Lara Gilmour admits she probably shouldn’t have started getting tattoos as young as 15, but she just wanted to be colourful.
‘’There was no defining moment in my life that made me want to do it. I just wanted to be as bright as I could be,’’ the 23-year-old said.
And now she makes a living out of adding ink to the skin of other like minded souls.
Lara’s body art has no rhyme or reason – she is influences by bands, artists and Walt Disney to name a few.
‘’One of my favourite tattoos is my rabbit … and I have a big portrait of my dog who passed away on my thigh.
‘’I got it four days later.
‘’It was very hard to get that one done. Everything just bubbled to his surface when I got his done, it’s the most meaningful one for sure.’’
But most of Lara’s work has no real meaning at all, including her latest edition which is a gometric seahorse.
She’s happy to leave her designs in the hands of like-minded colleagues and give them ‘’free rein’’ to have as much fun as she does.
Lara – who is very heavily tattooed for a young woman and has a bold design on the side of her shaved head – says she doesn’t notice people’s reactions.
But she has her boyfriend would give a different answer.
‘’I’m really oblivious to this sort of stuff, I don’t notice people looking at me when I’m walking down the street.
‘’My boyfriend would say people stop and stare at me.’’
As a professional artist, Lara has some views about tattoo placement.
‘’Necks, hands and faces have always been the last places you get … they’re the places that heavily tattooed people have, tattoo artists, they are not something you should just walk in and get because you feel like it,’’ she says. ‘’It’s a right of passage to get those places tattooed and I think anyone that really respect the tattoo culture really understands that.’’
Lara has some advice for people thinking about getting their first tattoo.
‘’Don’t ask all your friends for their opinions, that’s the worst thing you can do. ‘’And don’t do your hands or your neck.’’
Lara’s is one of 12 Illawarra women who were happy to share their personal stories of body art. Her photos and video form part of an Illawarra Mercury series called ‘’More than Skin Deep’’.
It’s the brain child of Mercury photographer Sylvia Liber.
‘’A person’s appearance can be misleading,’’ Sylvia says ‘’I agree that it displays a small part, but overall it’s an inaccurate way of measuring someone's personality.’’
‘’I wanted to hear what was behind the incredible tattoos,’’ she said.
‘’I wanted people, our readers, instead of making a judgement based on appearance, to listen to these people first.’’