CEBU CITY, Philippines— Mothers are always seen as homemakers. The one who tends to the children and keeps the house in check.
In today’s time, mothers have shown how they, too, can remain homemakers, while also pursuing something they are passionate about.
This mother from Cebu is not your ordinary mom; she’s a cool mom.
She’s one of Cebu’s best tattoo artists. Yes, a female tattoo artist, who has been dominating the tattoo industry for 12 years.
Meet Ann Savage, tattoo artist mompreneur of Cebu.
This tattooed mom and artist is waving flags for mothers out there to get up and do you while still being able to become the best mothers for their children.
Ann started her tattooing journey in a very unexpected way.
“I started in the cosmetics industry working for my mom, who owned a salon, and she had one tattoo artist working for her in a small space behind the washroom. Although his work intrigued me, I was too scared to check out what he was doing because I used to faint whenever I saw blood,” she said.
Days passed, and Jason Regidor, her mentor, asked her to be his apprentice.
“One day, he saw me drawing at the cashier’s table and asked me to tattoo the word “strength” in Japanese characters on his wrist. And then he asked me to promise that the moment the needle touches his skin, I shouldn’t stop tattooing. It was a strange but amazing moment,” she added.
From that moment on, she knew it was where she needed to be.
Tattooing led Ann to meet the person who did not just make her a full-fledged tattoo artist but the person she will be spending the rest of her life with, her husband and a tattoo artist, Joe Black.
“My family was not too happy about it, so Joe and I were left to fend for ourselves, which was challenging. For a few years, we slept where we worked, walked because we did not have money to ride the jeep, and so on. It was a real struggle, but over time and with God’s grace, we overcame all of that. And for the record, we have a wonderful relationship with my family now,” shared Ann.
Being a female tattoo artist is something only some can do or even dare to do back when Ann was still starting.
She is known for creating big pieces, which everyone thinks is such an impressive thing to do.
But even with her talent, Ann recalled she got a lot of backlash before, especially with her gender, since the tattoo industry was known to be dominated by male artists.
She recalled an instance where she was asked to judge during a tattoo competition, and her presence was not received well by one tattoo artist.
“I was always bullied for being female. During tattoo competitions, my presence as a judge was not acknowledged at all by this one tattoo artist who would welcome and shake hands with all the judges except me. He would literally pass over me. It was rude, to say the least, and I wanted to just leave and cry, but Joe was there to support me and tell me I deserved to be there,” she added.
With this incident, Ann, together with Joe, decided to start her tattoo convention here in Cebu called the “Savage Ink,” which is one of the biggest tattoo conventions not just in Cebu but in the entire Philippines.
She needed to make a name for herself with the help of her husband, and so she did.
With the amount of talent, skill, and experience Ann had over the years of tattooing, she can say that the female tattoo artists of today, like herself, is not anymore subjected to this kind of discrimination.
“The challenges I face today as a female tattoo artist don’t have anything to do with my gender since the industry is more welcoming and open now,” she added.
With everything that Ann went through as a tattoo artist, being a mother for her is still the most formidable act.
Ann and Joe have five kids, Rhiann, 14, Liam, 10, Nadiah, 8, Alex, 5, and Nailah, 3.
Ann had her fair share of unwelcoming judgments as a tattoo artist mom.
Some parents would see her in a different light just because she is covered with tattoos, and her job as a female tattoo artist is still a bit taboo for some.
“Other parents perceive me a certain way because of my tattoos and question my ability to mother my children. I’m not a stay-at-home mom since I have to be present at work to tattoo my clients, but I do my best to achieve work-life balance by intentionally making time for my family,” Ann said.
With her busy schedule, she makes sure that her children will always be her priority no matter what, even if she has to drag them all to the studio just for them to spend time together and for Ann to feel safe knowing her children are just with her.
“Sometimes, I bring my kids to the studio, and we travel together and have weekend dates. Recently, I’ve decreased the amount of time I spend tattooing just so I have more days with my kids. It can be challenging to say no to clients, but they understand that my top priority is my children. They will always come first,” she added.
As a mother and a tattoo artist, Ann wants her children always to be resilient. No matter what life throws at them, they must learn to fight their way up and try again.
“In reality, I won’t be there to help them at all times, especially when they start growing up and becoming their person. This might sound very harsh but that’s the sad truth about life. We will never know how long we can protect our kids or secure their future,” she said.
For Ann, being a mother is also securing her children for the future, and that one day, they, too will have to stand on their own two feet.
HER MESSAGE TO ALL MOTHERS:
“Never be ashamed of pursuing what you love doing even when society tells you to take a different path. When you know in your heart, you did nothing wrong and that you’ve climbed the highest mountain and swum in the deepest ocean just to be where you are now to provide for your family, be proud of yourself. Be your number 1 fan,” she said.
Ann Savage, 34, is a proud mom of five and a proud Cebuana tattoo artist.