Following sexual misconduct allegations against Hedley, the Canadian band have been dropped by the Junos and charity and promotional partners. Many fans have also been quick to distance themselves from the group — though that's harder to do when support is etched on their body in permanent ink.
Toronto-based tattoo artist and Speakeasy Tattoo owner Lizzie Renaud, however, is fering to cover-up Hedley-related tattoos free charge.
Renaud worked with the band on their "Gunnin'" video, forging a friendship with frontman Jacob Hoggard and even doing several tattoos for him, including text on his back and a set wings on his chest. As soon as she learned about the allegations against Hedley, though, she wanted to put her talents towards supporting the women sharing their stories.
"I immediately stood with survivors," Renaud tells Exclaim! "I am also a survivor sexual assault and engage in activism to reduce harm for women and QTPOC. Many people knew me as Jacob's friend, and I thought it was important to set an example and hold him publicly accountable."
She's received responses from a lot people "who feel a certain unique trauma to have trusted and branded themselves as the fan so loyal they've got the tattoo to show it" — but now that their support for the band has dissipated, can't afford the price a cover-up.
As a sign solidarity with survivors sexual assault, Renaud is willing to provide her services for free, and she's urging other artists to do the same.
So far, Renaud is in consultation with seven women and is waiting on responses from others. It's a lot unpaid work for one person, and she's received requests from women who are looking for similar services outside Toronto.
"Tattoo shops should all be considering sliding scale or pay-what-you-can cover-up work for survivors abuse," she said. "Tattooing needs to find its voice in what it's doing to eradicate abuse."
Renaud readily admits that she won't be "paying rent too easily" for the next little while, but she has received support from across the pond. UK-based tattoo artist Harriet Heath put out a similar fer to fans seeking Brand New-related cover-up work after sexual misconduct allegations against Jesse Lacey surfaced last year, and has been sharing budgeting tips to keep Renaud afloat.
New York artist Tamara Santibañez, meanwhile, recently helped Renaud brainstorm ideas for a potential client bill rights after a prominent tattoo artist was outed as a predator last year — eventually spawning the idea for initiatives like sliding-scale cover-up work.
It's people like Santibañez, Heath and the former Hedley fans she's connected with so far that are keeping Renaud determined to continue the fight against sexual violence — despite "how blindly rabid and horrible" some Hedley supporters have been to her on Twitter.
"My reaction was complicated over the past couple days," she said. "I feel like I want to rage-cry and punch something but I also just want to hug everyone and build up positive support."