Student freelancers turn hobbies into profits

Photo by Riley Hanna

By Riley Hanna

For many college students, making extra money is overwhelming alongside trying to juggle classes, a social life and extracurriculars. For many, getting an actual hourly job just doesn’t work with their already crammed schedules. Some Lewis & Clark students have gotten creative in their money making endeavors, and have used their talents to do “freelance” work.

Eleanor Trombla ’21 is a freelance stick-and-poke tattoo artist. She started doing stick-and-pokes her freshman year of high school, after a friend gave her one and she decided to try out the art form for herself. She practiced tattooing herself in more discreet places, where she could conceal them from her parents, then eventually moved to tattooing her arm and wrist when she turned 18. After some practice, she began tattooing others.

“People really like to be tattooed by stick-and-poke, because it’s different from a normal gun, and it’s a fun way to put your art on someone in an easy way,” Trombla said via email.

However, she faces multiple challenges as a freelance stick-and-poke artist. First, because she is by no means a licensed tattoo artist, there a certain level of risk in getting a tattoo done unprofessionally. Second, she fears receiving backlash from professional tattoo artists who claim her work is disrespectful to the industry. Yet, these challenges do not keep her from pursuing her goals.

“I think it’s important for tattoos to be available for everyone, not just those who can afford them, so stick-and-pokes help me do that.”

Additionally, while she will still be providing stick-and-pokes, she is in the process of moving on to using a tattoo gun, and will soon be offering tattoos via gun.

Trombla has tattooed approximately 10 people at LC, and countless others off campus and in her high school years. She has a 10 dollar minimum and normally charges what the other person thinks is a fair price, but has tattooed close friends for free and gladly accepts non-monetary payment, such as food or beverages.

Another LC student who does freelance work is Rose Mayer ’21. She has given people piercings since her freshman year of high school, and her journey has been rough. When she first started piercing, she gave herself numerous botched piercings, which resulted in multiple ear infections.

Throughout time and practice, she has become more trusting of her ability and has started piercing others. However, she refuses to give piercings she has not given herself as she wants to be fully confident and would feel awful if it went horribly wrong.

She charges between 10 and 15 dollars depending on the piercing, and asks those she pierces to provide their own jewelry. She views piercing as more of a hobby than a job, and views making money off piercing as an added perk. Doing freelance work has kept her hobby alive despite the time constraints of being a college student.

“I don’t have to go through any of the hoops of becoming a professional; that’s a lot of time commitment I simply don’t have and quite frankly have the desire to do,” Mayer said. “It’s not something I want to commit my life to, it’s just a fun hobby.”

She has also experienced drawbacks in doing freelance work. As a freelance piercer, she is much less equipped than professional piercers, and doesn’t have access to top-of-the-line sterilization equipment and the most sanitary environment. Despite this, she does what she can with the tools she has, and has been successful so far.

Mayer estimates that she has pierced under 10 LC students, many of these students being friends. Recently, she has started advertising her piercing services over Instagram, yet doesn’t want her services to become too popular. She stressed that while she is confident in her work, she believes that if students have the means they should go to a professional.

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