Alberta tattoo artists pay tribute to laser removal expert who helped people move past trauma

A beloved figure in Alberta’s tattoo scene who was known for helping young people get a fresh start is being remembered at this year’s Edmonton’s Tattoo and Arts Festival.

Ben Alway, a local tattoo removal specialist, died in March. The tattoo shows this Friday will have artists coming together to pay tribute to him, remembering his generosity and vibrant personality.

Ben Alway Memorial Bad Tattoo Contest is the new name of the show’s “bad tattoo contest” where participants show off their worst tattoos.

Always used to sponsor the contest, offering free laser removal sessions for winners.

The competition comes with a sense of humor, but Alway was also known for giving free tattoo removal to people who needed to get rid of traumatic reminders of their past.

Always was the first place that social workers or outreach teams brought clients if they needed help with tattoos.

Some people are trying to make a change in their lives after leaving prison but struggle to find a job because of gang markings that they cannot cover, such as their faces or hands.

Mark Cherrington, an advocate with the Coalition for Justice and Human Rights, would seek Alway’s help when he worked with young women tattooed without their consent by pimps or abusive partners.

Always told CBC Edmonton AM He said that he wanted people to not be bound by tattoos, which are a visible barrier to change.

He stated that, while the process of removal is painful, it can be a part of healing.

“Ultimately, the way I see it is, if it’s something for me that might take very little time or I can do it, and it can perhaps change someone’s life in a profound way, why not?” He said.

“We are all responsible for the larger idea. This is not only about the person in question, but also the community that we wish to be a part of.”

Cherrington told CBC News on Wednesday that he hopes other removal specialists will keep helping people for free, but that Alway had an especially compassionate approach that can’t be replaced.

Cherrington commented that his personality “just really fitted well with vulnerable individuals”.

“Someone [else] “They may be willing and capable, but lack the nuances and personality needed to instantly gain the trust of the women and girls that I work with.”

Jen Mills has worked for Alway’s business, Second Skin Tattoo Removal, for many years. It was acquired by a larger chain, Removery, in 2021.

Mills told CBC News in a letter that his legacy lives on through those who have worked with him.

“The three members of Second Skin now Removery continue to keep his passion and integrity alive,” she said.

Ben was a pioneer of the laser tattooing industry, and we were very fortunate to have access to his brain for many years.

Ben Alway from Second Skin Tattoo Removal will erase negative tattoos free of charge to help youths who are trying to turn their lives around.

Steve Peace, the organizer of the Edmonton Tattoo and Arts Festival, told CBC’s Radio Active on Thursday that even though Alway was an expert at removing tattoos, he had a “tattoo positive” approach. He was a go-to guy for removal among Alberta’s tattoo community, helping them get rid of poorly done or dated work so they could replace it with something new.

But offering his work for free, Peace said, speaks to a bigger part of Alway’s character.

Ben would not have thought it was a big deal to suggest a quick session… [the client]It’s the entire world. It changes their lives,” he said.

Alberta tattoo artists and the community will use this year’s festival to honor someone who attended the show year after year.

The first day of this year’s convention “Tracksuit Day,” is encouraging exhibitors and attendees to show up in a tracksuit, reminiscent of Alway’s signature style at the event.

I think we’ll be hit by it [at the show]Peace spoke.

“He is a kind and friendly person, on top of his being a successful businessman. We’ll always remember the man, not just his business. One of our favorites to meet every year.”

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