Designs for a Cause: Tattoos Against Homophobia

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Designs for a cause: Tattoos Against Homophobia

Art and activism joined forces in Warsaw on August 20 for Tattoos Against Homophobia: a benefit to support the Polish NGO, Kampania Przeciw Homofobii (“Campaign Against Homophobia” in English).

Designs for a cause: Tattoos against homophobia benefit (Agata Kubis)

Designs for a cause: KPH benefit, Tattoos Against Homophobia, raising funds and awareness (photography by Agata Kubis)

Kampania Przeciw Homofobii, or KPH, was established in Warsaw in 2001 to promote equal opportunity and safety for LGBTQA+ in Poland. The organization has done extraordinary work in the past 16 years. Through their efforts, public acceptance of LGBTQA+ in Poland has risen by about 30%.

How the event worked

Nine prominent tattoo artists donated their time and talent to provide awesome new tattoos, with all proceeds going to KPH. The setup was simple. The artists prepared a collection of tattoo flash art that participants could choose from. Each design cost 200 PLN (a little over 55 USD or 40 GBP) and could only be used once. So it was first come, first served. People could also buy raffle tickets to win a free tattoo from Sick Rose Tattoo, who couldn’t make the event.

Designs for a cause: Tattoos Against Homophobia (Agata Kubis)

Designs for a cause: Pawel Bobrowicz at Tattoos against Homophobia (photography by Agata Kubis)

There was plenty to attract people not getting tattoos as well. The venue, Pogłos, was filled people enjoying music mixed by DJs like Aldona Relax and Avtomat, a ping-pong tournament, vegan food, as well drinks provided by Mijo Mate and Dobry Materiał, who supported the event along with VICE Polska magazine.

Designs for a cause: ping pong tournament (Agata Kubis)

Designs for a cause: ping pong tournament (photography by Agata Kubis)


What KPH achieved through Tattoos Against Homophobia

Tattoos Against Homophobia was a hit- KPH raised over 11,300 PLN from the event!

As necessary as this funding is, a larger goal was to raise awareness and ally support in Poland. The subtitle of the event, Ramię w ramię, roughly translates to “shoulder to shoulder” or “side by side”. This highlights the importance of collaboration. For NGOs like KPH to be successful, ally involvement is essential. “We want to engage the public more in our work and inform people about the straight allies movement,” explained Franciszka Sady, Project Coordinator of KPH.

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Designs for a cause: KPH resources (Agata Kubis)

Designs for a cause: KPH pins and pamphlets (photography by Agata Kubis)

It is clear from public response that Tattoos Against Homophobia was also a success in this respect.

The experience for volunteers and participants

The tattoo I chose was designed by Karolina Skrzyniarz, who has been tattooing at  Stara Baba Tattoo for the past two years. An artist all her life, she found that tattooing was a natural career path for her. As we chatted about her bold, comic-like style, we also had a chance to discuss how her art is tied to her volunteer work.

“I’m not an activist- not exactly,” said the artist who had just finished her 6th free tattoo in under 8 hours (and had another tattoo scheduled before work the following day), “but I do what I can. If I have a chance to use my art and do work that helps what I believe in, I will.”

Skrzyniarz also mentioned posters and materials she has created for similar projects. Events like this give her and other artists a chance to use their talents to promote causes they identify with or support.

Designs for a cause: Tattoo (Skrzyniarz)

Designs for a cause: my photo of Skrzyniarz documenting her work… and her photo of the final result

For me, the event was exhilarating. Sure, the artists posted their designs online before Sunday. But part of the thrill came from not knowing exactly which tattoo you’d get. Plus, the high of a new tattoo is seriously awesome. More importantly, it felt good to contribute something measurable, no matter how small, to LGBTQA+ rights.

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