‘I don’t sit and wait on handouts’ - Artist does tattoos from his wheelchair

September 18, 2020
Daniel Burke
Daniel Burke
Burke doesn’t let his disability stop him.
Burke doesn’t let his disability stop him.
Burke applies a tattoo to a client.
Burke applies a tattoo to a client.

Thursday, November 28, 2013 is a day that Daniel 'Piggy' Burke will never forget. He was on his way home at about 9:30 p.m. when he was shot by gunmen, just metres away from his home in Arnett Gardens, St Andrew.

"They said it was mistaken identity. I got five shots which broke some of my ribs. One of the bullets hit mi in my spinal chord and paralysed me somewhat," the 28-year-old said.

Having purchased a tattoo starter kit before he was injured, Burke turned to the 'university of YouTube' for guidance on how to become a tattoo artist.

Burke always had an artistic inclination. "From mi a likkle youth mi love drawing still, but mi never take it serious then," he said. "Mi get shot up and den mi realise say mi maybe in the wheelchair for all mi life or for a long time. Mi just bypass dem ting deh and know say mi have to do something for myself because I don't usually sit and wait on handouts, so mi know mi have to be independent even if mi in the wheelchair." Despite developing an interest in being a tattoo artist, Burke told THE WEEKEND STAR that he questioned his decision while he was at the Sir John Golding Rehabilitation Centre in Mona, St Andrew.

"When mi deh a Mona Rehab (as the centre was formerly known) mi see a girl who get a tattoo in her back and it cripple har. Mi feel it to mi heart when mi see she a cry and mi start wonder if mi really waah venture in a da field deh, but afterwards mi start practise on myself," he said. Burke has since developed a good reputation as a skilled artist. He is one of the most sought-after tattoo artists in Arnett Gardens. Burke said that he does house calls in and around west and central Kingston, and he makes certain to wear his mask and sanitise very often.

Persons around Burke showered him with praises, even saying that he could easily be one of the most talented and creative tattoo artists in Jamaica.

Flashing another bright smile, Burke encourages other persons with disabilities not to feel sorry for themselves but continue to push towards their dreams.

"You just have to surround yourself with people who love you and will continue to push you. You also have to understand that is not all the time persons are going to do things for you because one day we can all wake up and don't have anyone around us. We just have to push ourselves beyond our limit," he said.

And his positive attitude is not limited to his work. Burke is able to move one of his legs, and is confident of being more mobile.

"I know I will walk again one day because even the doctors tell mi say the pain that I am feeling in my foot, I shouldn't even be feeling, so that give me hope. The days are coming when I will walk again and no matter how long it take, I will not give up," he said.

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