Meet the tattooer transforming and being transformed by breast cancer survivor clients! Meet Lita Edwards, co-owner, tattoo artist, scar coverup specialist, at Metamorphosis Ink in Dunedin, FL. Aka Boobs And Tattoos™.
How you start tattooing/working with survivor clientele?
I started working with survivors and terminal clients about 4 years into my career. A 68-year-old woman named Alice, was referred to me to help her with breast scars that were so extreme, reconstruction was not an option. At that time, she had lived with them for 12 agonizing years, keeping herself hidden. I had no idea some women didn’t have breasts; my life had never been affected by breast cancer, nor anyone in my family. But when I saw her and her lack of self-confidence and beauty, I was determined to create something that would make her smile each day instead of crying. There were 3 things that were consistent with her brokenness that I witnessed change over the course of time and completion of her tattoo 1. She always wore a high-necked shirt 2. She cried every day when she got out of the shower 3. She had a boyfriend of two and a half years that had never seen her topless. Seeing those three things change dramatically for her, led me to believe this was exactly why I was brought into tattooing, and what I could do to set myself apart from other tattooists. I witnessed her buying lower cut tops, to accepting a modeling position for prosthetic bras, to her sharing the first-time having sex with her shirt off, and this altered the course of my career and my life, and I’ve chased it ever since. It gave me purpose. I found a way I could give back from the tattoo community, a community that is not always seen as important, necessary, or educated. It fed into good karma, and truly changed someone’s life, with art! It was different and it made a difference. It challenged me in so many ways, and still does today. I’ve told her story many times over the years, Alice was just the beginning, and it was all uphill from there if I was going to be a success at it.
In the beginning I focused on breast cancer survivors. I had to get good at working on scars and creating a 3D Areola/Nipples which is not an easy task when beginning with an altered canvas. It took years of practice and work to develop my artistry to where it is today, not to mention the education I had to learn about skin, scar tissue, breast cancer procedures etc... Not all scars are approached the same or even tattooed the same way. The challenge of figuring it out, making something disappear in imagery, making the eye balance when the two breasts do not, were all reasons that also kept my interest and pursuit of becoming the most well-known artist here for scar coverups. On that note, I thank every person, male or female, that contributed skin and trusted me with such an important tattoo and sharing a part of their journey in life with me. It’s the end chapter for most after years of going through sickness, surgeries even facing death, however some of my clients are facing death and choosing to die beautiful. I have had two terminal clients that I took to competitions and WON! When they leave knowing they have an award-winning tattoo, it creates a space for them to really feel alive and free from the trauma of it all. When they tell you I want to be buried topless so everyone can see how beautiful I am again….it changes your life, and sometimes leads you to therapy which leads me to my next point of it taking a strong mind to carry the emotions it brings. We spend hours talking, I get to know their families, I tattoo their friends who shared this journey with them. It’s a very personal involvement and that keeps me coming back again and again. I’ve learned so much about myself, life, death, tattooing, staying grounded and humble, and how I can even branch beyond the chair.
Gaining the trust of clients and doctors was not an easy task, especially 10 years ago before tattooing really became mainstream, but the wind blew and after years of determination, it led the opening of Metamorphosis Ink, co-owned with my wife Dawn @stickfigurecult, who helped make it all happen. She is the fun personality that balances it all and manages behind the scenes. Then there are my two protégés aka tattoo children, Ciara @ciara_meyer_tattoos and Kaiser @kuwagatattoos, who are picking up the torch behind me. One thing I know for sure, there are a lot of people who need/want our help, and not enough artists willing to work on the altered canvas of an emotional person.
What is the one go-to product you cannot live without?
As for the one go to product I cannot live without…that’s a hard one because so much is required for a tattoo procedure, but if I had to pick my most important is Cheyenne products. Their needles and machine are the best I’ve seen when it comes to working with damaged tissue, and quality. I’ve tried other brands and products, but I always come back to Cheyenne. Its not about having 20 different models, its about engineering a few to such a degree, that using them 8 hours a day for years, does not change how they put ink into the skin. Cheyenne is always my go to for linework, shading, coloring, and scar work.
What is the most rewarding/your favorite aspect about working with survivors?
The most rewarding thing about working with survivors is “Transforming Scars, Transforming Lives, One Drop of Ink at a Time”, and the atmosphere it has created that doesn’t exist in other studios. We are a studio dedicated to working with scar covers of any kind, which brings an amazing all-encompassing atmosphere for anyone to come into and experience that change for themselves on so many levels.
Today I can say life has delivered many people to me that needed help in their own journey of self-recovery. I work not only with breast cancer survivors but so many others found me that also needed a transformation. Cutters (old and new) started coming in next, which brings about mental health awareness and change. Transgender top and bottom surgeries, giving back and bringing awareness to the LGBTQ community. Surgical scars of all types, and scars that harbor bad memories and energy which brings forth a sacred healing aspect of tattooing. More recently, I’ve begun working with sex trafficking victims, covering their markings. My first was a minor. All of this has allowed me to now offer ongoing education for tattoo and PMU artists both in studio and conventions and will be going live worldwide with webinars kicking off in December of 2022. I’ve had more publicity than I ever dreamed of which has brought so much respect to the tattoo community. It has given me a true legacy to leave behind in a world where most are just striving to exist and/or survive, and it all began with Alice, my first breast cancer survivor and scar coverup. Thank you Alice, you will forever be remembered.
You can learn more about Lita Edward’s and see more of her work by visiting her website www.BoobsAndTattoos.com ™ or by viewing her portfolio on Instagram @ArtistLita.