On Sunday, March 24, Relic Piercing & Tattoo raised money in support of the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre (ORCC) as part of the Still Not Asking for It (SNAFI) Annual Tattoo Flash Fundraiser. The organizers of SNAFI are a group of artists and advocates who have united in an effort to promote a safer standard of practice within the tattoo community. The global fundraiser raises money for various organizations focused on supporting survivors of sexual violence and working towards its prevention.

The first Still Not Asking for It® event was held at Allied Tattoo in Brooklyn, New York, in 2015. In 2016, an event was hosted in Brooklyn and one in Salt Lake City, Utah. In addition to these two cities, in 2017, SNAFI added events in Denver and LA. In 2018, SNAFI® became a global event. The team continues to work to expand their multinational reach each year.

When the co-owners of Relic Piercing & Tattoo, husband and wife Greg Fischer (Tattoo Artist) and Keri Bijoux (Piercer), opened its doors in August 2023 with Tattoo Artist Heather Bisaillion, part of their vision included collaborations with various local non-profit organizations as a meaningful way to give back to the community. During Sunday’s flash event, the team at Relic showed up creatively to show support for people coming to ORCC who have experienced sexual and/or gender-based violence. Even the studio’s name, ‘Relic,’ resonates with much of the work at the Centre as we enter our 50th year of service. Like the stories and journeys behind every tattoo, a relic stands the test of time. It’s a symbol of strength and resilience, which we strive to embody daily.

When asked why the SNAFI event resonates, Keri shared, “Unfortunately, the impact of gender-based violence resonates with all of us in a way, due to personal experience or people we know. Doing something nice in Ottawa is really important to us. We want to build the community and work with other organizations. And it’s definitely something that helps us connect with our clients, clients that maybe wouldn’t feel comfortable coming in or wouldn’t want a tattoo unless it was for something really meaningful.”

Some entering a studio participating in the SNAFI flash event may see body art as a way of reclaiming their body, whether it’s after trauma or a different lived experience. Empowerment through art can feel significant for many.

Artists Greg and Heather leaned into slightly different creative modes when conceptualizing the designs to offer specifically for SNAFI. Designs like “Paws Off” and “No Fear” might convey strength and resilience, but people can create their own meanings or interpretations. “Well, my partner Keri definitely helped me,” Greg recalled. “We wanted to go with something a little more positive and empowering. You could have more negative messages like anti-this or anti-that, but we’ve definitely wanted more positive stuff for people.”

So, how does someone who is on a healing journey from past sexual or gender-based violence prepare for something like a tattoo? The fact is, it’s likely going to be different for everyone. The Relic team agrees that getting a feel for any studio’s vibe is a good idea before you visit. Consider researching videos they may have posted, artist profiles, or their website’s ‘About us’ page.

Greg shared, “We put ourselves out there so people feel like they know us before meeting us. So, there’s that barrier that’s removed.” Some clients coming to Relic specifically ask for Heather if they feel more comfortable working with a woman due to the design’s location or simply because it’s their preference.

It’s also helpful when clients can communicate their boundaries. Heather points out whether they do or not, “I make it a point to tell my clients what I’m doing as we go through the session. For example, when I say I’m about to apply the design outline to their skin, they know I will be making contact with their skin.”

It’s about creating a safe and welcoming environment where clients feel empowered to express themselves.

ORCC is fortunate to have special people, teams, and organizations throughout the city who generously invest their time in raising funds to help sustain the work at our center. Community-driven collaborations help many people we serve to move forward in a new chapter of their lives with support.

Our team thanks the organizers of SNAFI for this incredible global event. We also extend our heartfelt appreciation to Keri, Greg, and Heather for making such an impact in our community and for being such a welcoming and talented crew. And to those who participated, you could have gotten your tattoo any other day, and we thank you for choosing Relic’s Flash Event. You decided to invest in yourself while contributing to a cause that means something to you.

RELIC is not just a body art studio; for some, it’s a studio that represents so much more.

Published On: March 28, 2024

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