On entering Stuart Randell's tattoo parlour in Fremantle, visitors are greeted with the seemingly unusual. A sticker on the back of the desk computer reads: 'Jesus loves me with or without my tattoos.'
- Catholic News Service
An array of tattoo design books, many with religious images, sit on the front counter beside a large Bible. The radio playing in the background, transmits the sounds of Christian radio station Sonshine FM.
Then there's Randell himself, adorned with five earrings and tattoos covering both arms, with a friendly smile and a firm handshake. Welcome to Sacred Tattoos. Randell has worked as a tattoo artist for about 20 years, starting with a partner before establishing his own business in 2009.
It was at that time that Randell, who was raised Catholic but later drifted away from the church, experienced a conversion and began to seek God again. It started when he began attending worship services at a local Christian church. But thanks largely to the warmth of Jesuit Father Stephen Astil of Immaculate Conception Parish in nearby East Fremantle, Stuart soon returned to the Catholic Church.
'Father Stephen had just started there and he came across the street and introduced himself,' Randell recalled. 'So then I started going back to the Catholic Church after many years.'
Four years later, Randell is an active parishioner at Immaculate Conception, taking on a regular role at Sunday Masses. 'God's given me a job on Sundays,' he said. 'I collect the money, and it's really humbling.'
But Randell's day job is his real passion. The tattoo of the Sacred Tattoos logo on the side of his head proves that his passion is more than skin deep. As for the shop's name, Randell said he settled on Sacred Tattoos because, 'God told me to.'
Photo: Stuart Randell poses in front of his Sacred Tattoos parlor in Fremantle, Western Australia. Randell's unusual service offers designs centered on religious themes