Tattoos are usually symbols of self-hood that we emblazon on our skin for all to see.
But there’s a new breed of secret ink that allows the wearer to express themselves while their bodyart remains hidden in plain sight from their friends, family and colleagues.
It’s not UV ink. They aren’t tucked away in hard-to-find places on the body either. They can be found on forearms or calves or backs or butts, should you choose.
They are tiny skin-coloured dot tattoos and they conceal a secret message from, in this woman’s case, disapproving in-laws, by feigning to look just like naturally-occurring freckles.
The star-gazer and budding astronomer, who goes by Rosehips89 on Reddit, had the idea of getting the Orion constellation inked on her arm, but disguised as freckles for her first ever tattoo.
The woman, who remained anonymous so as not to give the game away, told UNILAD:
The colours were chosen to match existing freckles, and Rigel [a star in the constellation] incorporates an existing mole. I love stargazing and it’s something secret – just for me.
She explained why she decided to get Orion (hint: it’s nothing to do with Men In Black), saying:
The constellations that we see today have been in the sky through millions of years and span across all of human history. Cavemen, the Celts, the Romans…they all have experienced the timelessness of Orion.
To be able to partake in this age old tradition of picking out constellations and telling people their myths and stories brings me joy.
I tried showing a friend where Orion was, but I realised that I was asking her to find a series of dots in a blanket of dots. I found it funny that I couldn’t look at the night sky without seeing Orion, and yet to her it was a chaotic random arrangement of stars.
So, why get the constellation hidden in fake freckles, when so many people have geometric constellation tattoos inked on them?
Gradually, the idea came that if I had Orion in the form of tattoos freckles, few people would recognise it for what it was unless they were also into astronomy or if I “revealed” it to them.
It would also serve as a tool to show people in the future what to look for. I can’t decide on an image I won’t hate after 5 years, but freckles blend in and I honestly forget I have it sometimes.
The tattoo artist, Kimi Karr Thomas of Miss Rie’s Tattoo Studio in Newport, Wales was delighted by the response to her client’s ink on Reddit.
It quickly went viral after received 14,174 points and 91 per cent upvotes at the time of writing.
I dont post 'selfies' on here often but i wanted to share how awesome this top is! Its super high quality and the print is crisp. The 'oddity' tee is one of my faves from this cute little business in CA. Go have a nose and buy some cool shit @californiamcd – – Sticker by @oliver_pj_boots (whats left of it ?) – – #illustration #art #instaart #darkart #darkartists #screenprint #skull #skulls #ink #tattoo #tattoodesign #tattooartist #tattooapprentice #alternative #altclothing #girlswithtattoos #girlswithpiercings #independent #independentbusiness #supportthelittleshops
Kimi told UNILAD:
This is actually the first secret mole tattoo I’ve done and even come across. It’s a very unique and creative way to express yourself and I love that about it.
As far as I’m aware it’s not quite a trend yet but based on the feedback on Reddit it could become one!
Although her style is more traditional, Kimi said she loved doing this simple secret design for her client.
Thomas is used to drawing more intricate designs, since she was trained by Miss Rie, a finalist on E4‘s Tattoo Artist Of The Year herself.
You can watch Miss Rie take on a complex neo-trad colour portrait in the clip below:
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Kimi continued to tell UNILAD why some customers chose subtle ink art:
It was definitely a fun one to do, its the clients little secret and if she chooses to she can share it with people. A lot of customers get tattoos that are hidden for many reasons, whether its because of dress codes within their job or simply because it’s for them only, this is just another way of doing it.
Tattoo trends are always interesting as it’s constantly changing. It’s up to the customer what they would like, as long as I have creative freedom and the customer is happy with the end result, I’m happy.
After Rosehips89 shared her ink on Reddit, others came forward with their secret sleeves of constellations:
You can guarantee these secret freckle tattoo designs will fly under the radar until you chose to reveal their existence.
Some might even say there’s a mole in the tattoo community.
A former emo kid who talks too much about 8Chan meme culture, the Kardashian Klan, and how her smartphone is probably killing her. Francesca is a Cardiff University Journalism Masters grad who has done words for BBC, ELLE, The Debrief, DAZED, an art magazine you’ve never heard of and a feminist zine which never went to print.