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The rise of the female tattooer?

8 October 2012

Author : reba

According to an article in the Guardian this weekend there is currently a mini-phenomenon happening within the demand for female tattooers. This apparently can be seen within the popularity of Saira Hunjan’s poetic and intricate tattoos, Angelique Houtkamp’s desirability, the want for Sarah Schor’s characterful faces and how Valerie Vargas and her prospective clients are not able to book appointments anywhere in the near future as she is so booked up.

The Guardian have described this success as being down to some kind of female equality within the tattoo business. Maybe this is true although this can imply that that equality didn’t exist in the first place. It is important to point out that tattooing is clearly living in a time of mass popularity and commercialization like has never been seen before. Is it obvious that female tattooers would see this rise in demand at a time like this? Or is it not relevant at all? There are more male tattooers than female but the gap isn’t shocking. Stating that women prefer to be tattooed by women seems like an apparent expression, but there is no doubt that these women tattooers customer bases are just as much split between male and female clientele. Unfortunately the article names Kat Von D as a reason behind this possible surge in demand, which not only seems like a lazy comparison but not a very apt one either.

The article tries to explore why these women are so popular, which in its own right seems contradictory. Maybe these female tattooers are doing as well as they are because they really are very good, which has nothing to do with the fact that they are women. Just as many male tattooers have endless waiting lists and collaborations expanding outside the tattoo world as do the artists named in the article. Does this piece of writing pander to the boring stereotypes of tattoos being un-womanly? Would the readers of the Guardian be shocked in reading that women tattoo? As tattooing for most of its time in the Western world has occurred outside of the mainstream, do the same gender values exist? Now that tattooing has arrived on the peripheries of the norm are these questions that now need to be answered? Maybe there is an argument that some these tattooers work is more feminine, but there are many male artists out there whose work is inextricably masculine.

Pop star Rihanna and actress Angelina Jolie have been used as examples of famous women with tattoos. These women have set fashions within tattooing. Young women in small towns and cities alike appear to be getting small script imbedded along their collar bones, stars behind their ears and badly designed pieces of tribal in between their thumbs and forefingers. Why these examples of these vaguely tattooed women have been used in this piece of writing seems utterly irrelevant to the main focus, this is supposed to be about the craftsmanship and talent of these female tattooers. Talking about famous women with tattoos achieves nothing, maybe it makes the reader think about how gorgeous these women are and how their trivial tattoos don’t interfere with this beauty. Which is ultimately downgrading in itself to these female tattooers talents, having to refer to something like that seems to defeat any point which was originally supposed to have been made.

The aim of this article may have not been to expose these ideas but it certainly brings them up. The Second Women’s Tattoo Convention happened yesterday in Leamington Spa which showcased 50 different artists work. The article ends by saying that if these artists are so good they don’t need any special treatment, which is true. This brings out the idea that it could actually be some of the female clientele who exploit these feminine qualities of the artist and their work. But is that the women getting tattooed by another woman’s fault or society’s recognition of it? Is a women having a tattoo still a painfully uncomfortable concept in our society, or is it that a woman can be successful in what seems to the outsider not only a mans game but one of no artistic merit. These women are not only transforming their own bodies but those of other women too, which is somehow still clearly considered shocking.

The aim of this article was clearly to talk about how many wonderfully talented female tattooers are about, but sadly it only points out stereotypes about peoples perceptions of beauty and tattooing.

If you really want to have good time, please have a look at the comments underneath the feature.

You can read it here

Image: woodcut by Alex Binnie of tattooer Saira Hunjan

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