A toilet roll, the most coveted item  early in the pandemic.
A toilet roll, the most coveted item early in the pandemic. / SUR, MCcoy

With Covid engraved on their skin

  • Nurses, masks, bats and memories of relatives who died, a new trend among those who love tattoos, as a reminder of what they have been through.

On his arm he has a tattoo of a bat carrying planet Earth in a cage, and on his foot a label with the Covid-19 symbol and a date: 7 March 2020. “That’s the day my wife became very ill,” says Sergio Pineda, the owner of a roast chicken business in Puerto de la Torre. Maribel García was one of the first cases in Malaga. “She was really bad, but she wasn’t admitted to hospital”. Maribel, a dental hygienist, had heard that people were on ventilators in hospital and she was very scared.

“We went through that together and wanted to record it for posterity,” says Sergio. He learned later that he and their daughter had had the virus but were asymptomatic.

Maribel also has another tattoo, of her face in a mask, another bat and the same date. “They are our Covid tattoos,” Sergio says.

His is very visible and has an impact. Customers often refer to it, with differing opinions. “Some ask how I could do this, with what we are still going

In memory of a grandmother who died.

In memory of a grandmother who died. / Irene Jorquera

through. It’s a reminder to myself of how bad things were, but it’s also a tribute to all the families who have suffered because of the coronavirus,” he explains.

Their creativity has not ended yet. Maribel has already been vaccinated because of her profession, and to close the circle the couple are planning to have another tattoo, maybe a syringe with a bottle of the vaccines, the brand and the date of each jab.

Their tattoos have been done by McCoy, founder of Tattoo Stone, the oldest studio in Malaga, which opened in 1994. He has been receiving numerous requests for something pandemic-related. Bats, Covid symbols, masks and phrases referring to survival and the year 2020 are among the most popular. One nurse has a tattoo of herself wearing a mask and in an old-style military uniform. “It’s because they have been on the front line,” McCoy explains.

Marked by the virus

“A lot of people who ask for these tattoos have experience of the virus, either because they have been very ill with it themselves or their relatives have, and they want a reminder of what they have been through and how they got over it,” says McCoy.

The world in a cage.

The world in a cage. / MCcoy

In many cases people choose motivating phrases, but some want a portrait of a family member who died from Covid. This is not just a local trend. The veteran tattoo artist says that in Madrid, where the incidence of the virus is especially high, it is more common than here.

Davilock Medina, who owns Trece Tattoo in Torremolinos, agrees that demand is high. He has recently done 15 Covid-related tattoos including plasters over a broken heart and the globe in a mask. He says many of his clients work in the medical profession.

Irene Jorquera, of Varekai Tattoo in Malaga, says many of her clients want motivating phrases, especially those who have been ill or whose relatives have had the illness. Couples sometimes ask for matching ones. She has also been asked to do several portraits of loved ones who have died from the virus.

It will be a long time before anybody can forget what has happened with the Covid pandemic in 2020 and 2021, but those who have recorded it with tattoo art on their skin will have a reminder that stays with them for the rest of their lives.