Owner Joel Mitchell inking a client with an autism inspired tattoo. Credit – Kalendra Withanaarachchi.

A Salford tattoo artist has hosted a special inking event at his parlour to boost support for Autism Awareness Week.

Joel Mitchell, 36, owner of Old Empire Tattoo based in Little Hulton, unveiled a collection of autism inspired tattoos for customers to choose from for one day only.

He said: “A lot of the designs have been based on the Jigsaw Trust, some of the designs are custom that have been drawn specifically for this event, and some of them are designs that have been mass produced such as the ribbon.”

He added: “When you see something visual, it allows an opening point of discussion. Someone might see that tattoo and they might have a child with autism and then they can engage with each other.”

Credit – Klaudia Lemanska.

Credit – Kalendra Withanaarachchi.

What is Autism Awareness Week?

World Autism Awareness Week is running this year from 1 to 7 April. Across the UK, various activities and events are being taken place to raise money and awareness for the National Autistic Society. More information can be found here.

Jack Bates, 18, is living with autism and got his first tattoo at this event. He said:

“Today, I got a ‘different not less’ tattoo with jigsaw pieces featuring the colours of autism,”

He added: “I think the event is good because it spreads the message about autism, it gets it out there and it also gives business to the parlour”.

Credit – Kalendra Withanaarachchi.

Abigail Fitton, 20, was another participant at the event who also got a tattoo. She said:

“I think that getting to know people with autism is important. The spectrum goes from people who can just deal with things with a little bit of difficulty, whereas there are people who need more support and sometimes people don’t see that.”

Abigail getting inked by Joel. Credit – Kalendra Withanaarachchi.

The event itself has attracted a positive reaction on Facebook, with many people expressing a desire to get inked for Autism Awareness Week.

Caomihe Devlin, 25, apprentice at Old Empire Tattoo said: “We’ve definitely noticed that through Facebook Messenger, so many have expressed their interest, and these people are even not necessarily the clientele that Joel would normally have.”

Old Empire Tattoo has hosted similar events in the past for charities such as Macmillian Cancer.

Its next flash event will take place this Friday, where the parlour will be launching a collection of semi-colon tattoos to show awareness for suicide.

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