Joshua got his Kanye West tattoo after the music reminded him of being on holiday with friends. But what started as a fond memory quickly became a source of regret. At first, Joshua brushed it off as a joke - until Kanye’s hate speech turned the ink from a silly mistake to something he was ashamed of, particularly as a dad of two who might soon be asking who ‘Yeezy’ is.
A chance conversation with a colleague led Joshua to discover our SECOND CHANCES project and to a fresh start. This is his story.
I never went out with a desire to get a Kanye tattoo, but me and my friends went on holiday and we loved his song ‘Blame Game.’ And then I was visiting someone in Hamburg and I went to the toilet and saw some lyrics from ‘Blame Game’ and I was like, 'I’m gonna get that tattooed'. I’d had a few too many beers.
And then for some reason, even though I was sober and had flown home, I still thought it was a good idea to get the tattoo. So I went and got it.
Publish Date in article
You’re removing it now, but did you initially love it?
No, it was too big. But even when they put the stencil on, at no point did I think 'I’m going to stop that because that’s too big' - even though I did think it was. It goes all the way down my arm. If it was smaller, I may have kept the tattoo or at least it would be easier to cover up. But it’s just too big and as soon as I saw it I thought, 'oh no.'
Why didn’t you say anything to the tattoo artist?
I don’t know. Maybe a concoction of anxiety and some alcohol I’d had in the morning. I went out with my friend and we had some espresso martinis before the appointment. Classy! Espresso martinis and Kanye West don’t really go together.
How has it been having the tattoo?
For the first few years it was a bit of a joke and a bit of a party piece. People would laugh about it.
And then with the anti-semitic stuff he started to say, I thought, 'oh, no. I can’t possibly have this on my arm.' What if my kids ask me what it is? And I tell them it’s Kanye West and they Google him and read what he’s said.
Yeah, the desire to get it removed grew the more wild and outrageous he got.
You mentioned that people used to joke about it. Have people’s reactions changed?
I just try to hide it as much as possible, which isn’t particularly easy when you’re wearing a t-shirt because it’s so low down on my arm. When people ask what tattoo I’ve got, I just cringe. With some people you get a bit of a look, and some people still just joke and say I’m an idiot.
It’s still kind of a bit of a joke, just because people think it’s very, very stupid - which it is - but no one’s been overtly offended by it, or at least haven’t said anything to me to suggest that. Hopefully.
"The more and more wild he got, the more and more I cringed - and then I had two children."
How did you hear about SECOND CHANCES and our ‘Yeezy Come, Yeezy Go’ campaign?
I was at work one day wearing a t-shirt and someone asked me about it, so I showed them. I said I was desperate to get it removed one day and about an hour later, he was scrolling on Twitter and went "have you seen this?” It was the advert from NAAMA. I thought, 'oh my God, it’s all coming together!'
I instantly reached out and filled in the form. Everyone joked about it but then you got back to me. I was very, very excited and the guy that showed me the advert has been following my progress, too.
Publish Date in article
And how have you been finding treatment?
Good! A few years ago, I had laser removal somewhere else and it was very, very painful. This is significantly nicer which I was very happy about because the first time I came to NAAMA, I was expecting that horrific pain again, but it was much better.
Everyone here is so nice. It’s just been an enjoyable experience and I’m very grateful to be having this done for free, so I bring in treats instead!
What would you have done if you hadn’t found NAAMA?
I did once ask about covering it up, but because it’s so thick and dark, they said I was going to have to get a black line rather than being able to cover it up.
To actually get it fully removed is peace of mind that I don’t have to explain to my children why I’ve got a Kanye West tattoo.
What are you most looking forward to as it clears?
Just not having that awkward conversation with people again, showing them my stupid tattoo and explaining my stupid tattoo. And going out and being able to wear a t-shirt in front of people.
After 2 sessions
Joshua's tattoo is dark with heavy block lettering.
After 4 sessions
The tattoo is fading well.
After 9 sessions
Removal continues to make excellent progress.
SECOND CHANCES is here to help
To nominate yourself or someone else for our SECOND CHANCES programme, complete the submission form with your tattoo story and what it would mean to you/your nominee to receive treatment with us.