If you’ve scrolled through the mental health/ illness tags on Instagram, you might have come across a collection of heart-shaped tattoos with sayings such as, “love yourself” and “you’ve got this”. Inspired by his own struggles, 24-year-old tattoo artist, Callum Glover, decided to create a flash-sheet of these uplifting sayings to help others create a permanent mark of encouragement for themselves. We had the chance to speak with Callum about his mental health journey and what lead him to create these tattoos. Read on to learn more.
When did you begin tattooing and what attracted you to this industry?
I first got into the industry just over four years ago as an apprentice tattoo artist. I spent two years learning what I could to prepare myself for when I’d become a fully fledged artist. I have been tattooing as a non-apprentice for just over two years. I was lucky to find this industry at a good age where I was young and hungry to prove myself, which I still am. I have always loved tattoos, but leading up to my apprenticeship, I never thought it was achievable. I saw tattoo artists as wizards. I couldn’t understand how I could ever be a part of that until I experienced my first convention and I decided then and there that I would find a way to be in this industry.
Earlier this year you began offering a flash sheet full of hearts with positive sayings inside of them, what inspired that?
I was inspired to speak up about mental health issues when I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety, which I had suffered from for years without knowing. It meant so much for me to help others get through the dark times, the same dark times I myself have been through. These tattoos came from one particularly dark point in my life, one where I was unable to do anything for days but hate myself and everything about my existence. I had not been at this point in so long. I thought I was in control before this and I thought I’d never pull myself out, but I did. With the help of a friend, I got myself back to what I considered normal for me. I realized I wouldn’t be able to escape it or control it like I thought, but I can always get through it with a little help. So I decided I’d provide some help for others in the form of these positive tattoos, that way I can give someone a permanent reminder.
What has the experience been like so far?
It’s been crazy, I get messages about them pretty much every day, I’ve lost count of the amount I have done. Each one positively affecting the mental health and life of their owner. For me, the best part about doing these tattoos is the after part of the tattoo, I’ve had clients cry because of the meaning behind these tattoos. I often get messages from clients on their bad days thanking me because their tattoo has got them through that day. It warms my heart to know I’m helping people be happy. I couldn’t ask for any more from my life. I never, ever expected that I would ever be able to affect so many people so directly, so personally, so positively on a daily basis, but here we are.
Do you currently have any tattoos that relate to your own mental health?
I myself have a tattoo on my ribs, that says “be proud to be who you are” I got this before I was ever diagnosed with depression, it had great meaning to me then but as things have gone in it’s become more and more important to me. It keeps me from doubting myself and helps me know my own worth.
We’re always inspired by people who can turn their struggle around to make something positive out of it. How can other people do the same? Do you have any advice for them?
I have some song lyrics that I always look back on, they say “if you want to see the change, you’ve got to be the change” this means a lot to me. So if you wanna help inspire people to be more positive, then you have to be the positivity you want to see in the world. Show people that you too struggle but they can get through it. Set an example for others to follow. Be the change.
If you happen to be near Rotherham in the UK, be sure to visit Callum at Holy Ghost Tattoo Collective. These tattoos will only cost you £30 which is around $39 US. You can also follow his work on Instagram.