Sarah Fulford Talks Tattoos and Embracing Being Different

Sarah Fulford is a 34-year-old mom living in North Carolina with her fiancé and daughter. She sat down with us to talk about being different than other people, how her ink helps her connect with her patients, and her love for Star Wars and Stephen King.
Warning: This interview contains a mention of suicide.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Fulford
Hi Sarah! To start things off, tell me a bit about what you do for work! 
I am currently a Patient Care Coordinator for a pediatrics office. I help schedule appointments, assist doctors, communicate with patients, and so on. I have always worked in the medical field and try and break the standard of normal with my tattoos in that particular field.
You’re one of our first features to work in a more traditional field! I’d love to hear more about your experience as a tattooed woman at work. 
Ever since my father was having countless surgeries, I always wanted to be in the medical field to help people like him who can’t seem to help themselves. Being a tattooed woman in the medical field has its moments. It’s becoming more acceptable where I am located, but I also live in the ” Bible Belt,” where you get judged fairly often. It doesn’t phase me anymore. I love being myself, and I love being different and proving everyone wrong that just because we tattoo ourselves and express ourselves differently doesn’t mean we aren’t still smart, hard-working people.
It’s so true! Do you see the culture shifting for women who have tattoos and work in traditional jobs? 
It has definitely become more acceptable. It brings me closer to my patients that like to learn about my artwork and helps others, new and old, get to know me better!
Photo courtesy of Sarah Fulford
You said that you live in the Bible Belt – North Carolina, right? Have you always lived in that area?
Yeah, I’ve pretty much been here my entire life—more near the coast. Lots to do and it is so beautiful.
It looks really beautiful! What do you do in your spare time (when there’s not a pandemic, of course)? 
I like to read a lot of books, take photos, and spend as much time with my family.
You have an adorable little girl, and I love your whole vibe of being this badass witchy mama. I can imagine you probably stand out a bit from a lot of other moms – what’s it like to be the cool tattooed mom? 
Thank you! I love being different. I have always known that I was different and just molded into the goth girl I always wanted to be, but with a mini-me, haha! I love being covered in tattoos and being a mom, but it has its moments of staring and judging. But, I don’t have these pieces for them; they are for me. And I am still a smart, hardworking mother that just likes being colorful!
Photo courtesy of Sarah Fulford
Whenever someone has such a distinctive aesthetic, I’m always curious about how they got there. Tell me a little bit about your style evolution – were you always into a darker, edgier look? 
I have always loved that style. My dad played the drums when I was younger and raised me on rock and roll. So this is all his fault, haha. My mom has finally come to terms that I’m not going to stop adding more tattoos, and she actually gets excited every time I get a new one! I would say more so the horror, being obsessed with Stephen King, and music drove me to this edgy side. And I love it.
What’s your favorite Stephen King book? 
My favorite Stephen King novel will always be the Shining. The book itself was a lot creepier to read than the movie; Stephen King himself says he hates that adaptation of it!
Also, I love that your mom is now excited about your new tattoos! What was it like when you started getting inked? 
I definitely hid my tattoos well for a very long time with either makeup or clothing. My sister noticed them first, and the rest was history. My parents always knew it would happen and have been very accepting over the years.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Fulford
I imagine you as not just accepting, but taking your daughter to get her first tattoo when she’s like 15 or 16 and cheering her on. Does she ask for tattoos yet? 
My daughter calls my tattoos “boo-boos,” which is adorable. And I definitely will be that mom that cheers her on when she finally wants to get her own tattoo or piercing. Ultimately it will be her decision.
Star Wars is a huge part of my life. My father introduced me to it as a kid, and it stuck very hard to me, from the movies to comics, to novels. I am an encyclopedia of knowledge for that franchise! And yes, I had to name my kid after one amazing, badass General: Princess Leia.
What’s your favorite Star Wars film of the franchise? 
My favorite Star Wars film is Empire Strikes Back because it’s the most epic climax in cinematic history. No matter how old I am, Darth Vader telling Luke he is his father will always give me chills (man, I sound nerdy).
Maybe a little nerdy, but we love it! Let’s talk more about your tattoos now. When did you first get interested in tattoos, and what was your first piece? 
I got interested in tattoos because the group of friends I would hang out with was very much in the music scene. Or, as we call them, the Myspace days. My first tattoo is on my wrist. It was when I thought I had a religion to follow, but I do not follow it anymore, so it will soon be covered.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Fulford
What do you have planned for the cover-up? 
I plan on getting my father’s favorite flower: a blue hydrangea flower bush. He loves those flowers in the spring, and we grew up having them all around our house. I see them everywhere now.
Tell me about your favorite tattoo. 
My father playing his drums on my left forearm. It was the last photo I took of my dad before he passed away by suicide. I see his smile in the tattoo, and he’s always next to me every day.
I’m so sorry to hear about your dad – I imagine that has been really hard. It’s incredible how tattoos can memorialize and keep our loved ones close too. 
Thank you, He meant the world to me, and I was definitely a daddy’s girl.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Fulford
I saw a couple of different styles among your tattoos – some black and grey and some traditional/neo-traditional. What draws you to those styles? 
I had a plan for my body, and I wanted to add all types of tattoos on each body part. So we have neo-traditional on my Star Wars sleeve; my father’s memorial piece on my left arm is a portrait, so I’ll stick with that for the rest of that arm. My legs are traditional, and I’m planning a Japanese back suit!
Do you have a go-to artist? 
My go-to artist is actually my best friend ever. Her name is Tranell Turner. Her Instagram is @tattoosbytranell. She is amazing. She has done all of the tattoos on my legs, including my second favorite tattoo she just recently did: my Stephen King’s The Shining piece! It is amazing.
Photo courtesy of Sarah Fulford
What will your next piece be?
My next piece is finishing the wolf on my torso by my buddy Leif Hansen. He is all about traditional Japanese pieces and is an incredible artist.
I saw a post where you mentioned that your legs would soon be covered too. What’s in the works for those? 
All. Spooky. Legs. Clearly, my favorite season is Halloween, and I am planning to make them the spookiest legs ever! Going to add more witchy things, horror movies, etc. And I cannot wait!
I love it! Anything else you’d like to share that I haven’t asked about? 
I am stoked to be a part of a group that empowers women who love collecting art and being different. It’s nice to see a group not trying to sell a body but love and empower us tattooed women, and I truly commend this site for that.
We’re stoked to have you!! And, to close it out, what is the message that you’d like to share with the world?
May the force be with you!
Photo courtesy of Sarah Fulford
For more from Sarah, follow her on Instagram at @sarahghoulford!