Shanzey Afzal opened up a mobile tattoo shop to ink people who feel uncomfortable or unwelcome in a typical tattoo parlor.
“They’re healing and provide motivation and inspiration and can really honor a certain experience that you’ve gone through,” she explained. “Vulnerable demographics really deserve a space where they aren’t subjected to discrimination or any kind of abuse.”
As a woman getting tattooed by men, Afzal felt that her designs weren’t understood. Growing up in a Pakistani and Indian household, she got her start in body art as a henna artist. She says her entrance into the tattoo business was rocky because tattoos are forbidden in her conservative Muslim community.
“If I went back to Pakistan I would feel like a target,” she stated. “I got my first tattoo when I turned 18 and I was obsessed with them. I became a tattoo collector and very interested in the art of tattooing.”
Afzal said she uses tattoo art to heal from some of the traumatic experiences she’s experienced. She is now taking her talents cross-country for a Tattoo Tour, where she’ll be inking women and non-binary people at festivals.
“The response has been really positive,” she explained. “I do get some haters but it means you’re doing something right.”