Two tattoo artists from the same city have quit over claims they sent inappropriate messages and videos to clients.
Andrew Balls and Brad Ward held their hands and apologised for their behaviour as they announced on Instagram they were leaving the industry. The pair were outed on the social media platform by a fellow Norwich tattooer, who claimed he had seen a ‘heart-breaking’ number of accounts from female victims, reports the Eastern Daily Press.
The artist claimed to have been sent 20 messages from women who claim they were mistreated. He added: ‘These poor people who were just booking a tattoo have had to endure so much.’ Over the weekend hundreds of women from across the country began sharing stories about other figures in the industry.
In a bid to help victims move on from their trauma a trusted global network of professionals have offered to cover up, finish and fix designs by predators in the scene free of charge. One woman who wished to remain anonymous claimed she was forced to block Mr Ward on social media three years ago because he sent her inappropriate videos after giving her a tattoo.
After allegations were made last Saturday, Mr Balls and Mr Ward announced they were leaving the industry on their Instagram accounts, which since appear to have been deleted.
Mr Ward wrote: ‘Some things have come out that I can no longer brush under the carpet and act like it never happened.
‘In the past I’ve been a really ****** person while being under the influence. I’m ashamed about my behaviour and am putting my hands up and publicly saying nobody should have to put up with such behaviour.
‘People deserve better. I’ve extended heartfelt apologies and know that it’s not enough but to all concerned and extended friends and family I’m sorry for the shame I’ve brought.
‘I only hope you can find a little space to forgive me as I embark on a journey to heal the damage done. I’ll be stepping away from tattooing for good.’
Meanwhile Mr Balls said: ‘I put aside other people’s feelings for the sake of my own pleasure and it’s totally out of order. I’ve disgraced friends, family and loved ones.
‘It was brought to my attention about how I’ve made people feel uncomfortable whilst getting tattooed and I was honestly never aware of this, but to say it’s untrue would be to dismiss it entirely which would be out of order too and people are allowed to tell their story. So for that I apologise also.
‘I’ve acted terribly and I’m being honest now out in public. My deepest apologies to all those concerned. I will not be returning to tattooing and hope that the industry is a better place for it.’
Metro.co.uk has contacted both artists and the shops they worked at for comment.
Both studios said their pair would no longer be working with them and said the alleged behaviour did not take place on premises.
Earlier this week Wigan based tattoo artist Gemma-May Farrimond told Metro.co.uk how she had been collating stories from hundreds of women claiming they had been targeted by tattoo artists who exploited their position.
She said artists had sexually abused customers, made derogatory remarks, and sent sexually explicit messages to clients. Some have tried to ply customers with alcohol and drugs and others have offered to do pieces for free in exchange for sex.
She told Metro.co.uk: ‘It’s very much been a boy’s club for quite a long time. People are afraid to break the silence, especially artists. They don’t want to ruin their career.
‘We don’t want people to be disheartened or afraid to be tattooed by guys. Don’t be afraid to ask around about experiences. By asking that you’re protecting yourself.’
The Tattooist Sexual Assault Survivor Support is a network seeking to help victims of the industry, spread awareness and dispel misconceptions about sexual abuse.
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