It’s been a tough journey for Cobourg artist Nickola Koukla. Growing up, she was bullied and “didn’t really fit in anywhere.” That is part of the reason why she has combined her love of art with the need to help those physically scarred from self-inflicted wounds.
Koukla started her own tattoo business, Koukla Ink, where she offers this service for free. She says “people are having trouble moving past the trauma and there is a lot of negative stigma to self-harm scars which I don’t think is fair.”
A recent study by the Canadian Institute for Health Information has shown that in Canada, there were more than 26,000 emergency department visits due to self-inflicted injuries. More than 39 per cent ended up being admitted.
People from all over the world reach out to Koukla. One of her recent clients, Cayla Snetsinger, struggled with anxiety, depression and bullying and had nowhere to turn.
So she resorted to self-inflicted pain, leaving her with scars. Life after that was hard she says. “Every time I saw them, I wanted to cover them up. If I was at work, I felt ashamed, someone would see them and give me a sideways glance.”
When she reached out to Koukla, she asked if she could turn her dark reminders into something beautiful. Now, Snetsinger is no longer ashamed to show [her] arm. “I am proud to show my arm,” she said.
The demand for cover-up tattoos is so high, Koukla says. “Trying to keep up has been a challenge and we have such a long list now, we are starting to reach out for help.”
She started a GoFundMe page called “Project New Moon” in hopes of helping more people. But for now, it’s all about trying to make a difference, one tattoo at a time.
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