I have been crazy about tattoos since I was about 12, and an avid tattoo collector for exactly half my life.
I’m also a self-avowed feminist and passionate believer in girl power (heck, those latter two words make up one of my biggest tattoos!)
Yet it took me until the age of almost 50 to realize something about myself and tattoos: I only want to be tattooed by women from this point on.
It’s not that I don’t love and appreciate the tattoos I’ve gotten from male artists. I treasure my art collection and truly don’t regret a single piece. I’ve gotten great quality, beautiful tattoos from both men and women over the years; it’s not that I think one particular gender is better at tattooing.
But tattoo is an investment of time, energy and money, and I prefer to use my resources to lift up women tattooers. The tattoo industry has long been a male dominated field and it has been historically difficult for women tattooers to get a foothold. If I can help a woman tattoo artist make her mark – literally – then I want to do that.
That’s the main reason – but there’s another reason why I plan to seek out only female artists from now on. Many traditional (aka male owned and operated) tattoo shops have a particular “male energy” that I may have been fine with in the past, but have come to realize that it’s not the vibe I want when getting tattooed moving forward.
I wouldn’t describe traditional tattoo shop energy as negative or toxic per se, but I can see how it could be perceived that way by some. It’s honestly the same male-dominant energy and vibe that is predominant at most tattoo shows and conventions, which is why many feminist tattooed women avoid these events.
In traditional tattoo shops, there is typically loud heavy music, male POV flash on the walls and male artists tattooing while an attractive, heavily tattooed “shop girl” works the front counter. This isn’t just a cliche – it’s a truism. And yes, I’m speaking in broad generalizations and I’m clearly aware of male-owned shops that are NOT like this. Again, I’m not judging, just observing that this is how the industry has historically been.
Walk into a woman-owned shop, however, and you may have a very different experience. The energy is more feminine or nonbinary, and just feels lighter somehow. The music is often less jarring and more peaceful, too, which can help you get into the right head space to be tattooed. Getting work done in a woman-owned and operated shop can feel more like a salon or spa experience – or even a magical one.
If you’re a woman and you’ve never gotten tattooed by a woman or in a woman-owned shop, you owe it to yourself to seek one out and experience the difference I’m describing.
I still admire and appreciate many male artists and enjoy visiting many male-owned and operated shops, but from here on out, my tattoo dollars are going to support women artists and women-owned tattoo shops. And if a woman artist or group of them ever create a women’s tattoo convention, you’d better believe I want to attend.
There are SO many fantastic women and non-binary artists out there – trust me when I say this will not limit me or my tattoo collection in the slightest! Check out 10 female tattoo artists who have changed the industry, Inked Magazine’s 50 best female tattoo artists or this list of 25 top female artists.
Have you been tattooed by both male and female artists, and did you find there was a significant difference in the energy or experience overall?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or over on my Tattoo Doula page on Facebook. And if you’re looking for a new artist or design, consider working with me to help you create the best tattoo experience possible!