Just like most industries around the world, the tattoo industry has been dominated by men for years.
This is the case due to a multitude of reasons – generally, a perception of male dominance – patriarchy, the association of tattoos with deviance, masculinity, and just more males taking up being a tattoo artist.
It turns out, women have an equally long and rich history with the tattoo industry. From the 2500-year-old tattoos found on mummified female bodies to new age female tattoo artists who bleed talent – it’s clear that this divide is not going to stay, and women are ready to take over the tattoo world!
At the same time, I do understand, being a beginner, it is normal for many budding artists to find it slightly challenging to fit in. But we can assure you, with time, you will find your place!
I cannot wait for you to get started with your ink journey – I have outlined a few pointers women should consider while exploring a career in this field, and how they should go about it.
Follow your dreams
If you’re new to the world of tattooing or haven’t had the inclination towards this as a career, this question may be popping in your mind.
Firstly, you need to understand that the demand for people who want to get tattoos has skyrocketed in the last few years. From being dominated by muscular males who wanted to get inked, almost every demographic has opened up to tattoos. The point is, that the market has broadened, and so have the opportunities. And within this vast market, you will indeed find your niche and blend in!
If you’re also someone who’s always been interested in design, illustrations, and arts – this might be a great career option for you. I’ve seen all kinds of women become tattoo artists, all the way from architects to sculptors and animators. Women of all ages and backgrounds have come forward to be a part of the profession.
The wrong stereotype propagated with tattoos is that of metalheads or goths, but that is rarely the case now. It will be relatively easy for you to find your peer group within the tattoo community if you explore enough.
Let’s get you started
A very valid question for anyone who wants to start in this profession is where to start. Lately, we’ve seen a trend of small, informal tattoo schools spring up who teaches you the art for a small fixed cost. More often than not, these schools will train you with the basics of how it is done – design, machines, maintenance, and more advanced topics like a business.
But, no theory will match up to real-life experience – which is why we highly recommend that you seek an apprenticeship somewhere to learn the tricks of the trade and get your hands dirty. An apprenticeship will generally be unpaid but will deliver incredible value and understanding.
Start with just visiting your desired tattoo studios and see whether they’re open to exploring such an opportunity. Be extremely selective in choosing your mentor – as that can be critical to your success as an artist. If possible, choose a woman to be your mentor or go with a place that has women artists. We’ve seen that studios with the same gender are more likely to be inclusive workplaces, and your environment will be far better.
Your goal initially has to be simple – learn, learn, and learn some more. Pick up all the skills you possibly can and up your game at this time. This apprenticeship can eventually translate into a full-time opportunity, or you can even open up your studio, who knows?
And you will fit in
You might be giving yourself a hard time thinking about how you will fit into a field that, to date, remains dominated by males. Well – we got your back. The good news is that the industry has transformed rapidly over the last few decades to see far more women join the ranks of well known and well-paid artists and have shattered the ceilings. This is much unlike some other industries where women still have a hard time making their mark.
Moreover, it also helps if you’re interested in tech and possess the knowledge on how to work on tattoo shop software since most studios are adopting the use of technology to make their lives easier.
However, if you are unable to find the above, don’t give up. The industry is full of examples of people like you who stood above their male counterparts and shattered stereotypes with their courage, grit, and determination. Don’t think you’re alone in driving this change. Embrace it, and take it on a challenge.
Artists like Van Don of LA Ink are now celebrities, not just because of their art, but because of the above reasons. They chose to take the lead in a time when most women couldn’t dare to – and that has made all the difference!