Tattoos are common today. They are a way of remembering our past and how we remind ourselves of our values, triumphs and sometimes our mistakes.
Ink was once associated with the abdomen of society – but now tattoos adorn bodies across the spectrum of society. Despite this, some parts of the industry have not quite caught up with this newfound customer base.
Tattoo sites and those who work inside may still feel unapproachable and unwelcome to some. While it may be intimidating for the heaviest and bravest among the hetero-society to try to disagree with a cocky and overbearing artist, it can be a whole different level for those who are overtly queer.
“Tattoo shops can be scary places … I’m definitely aware of a bad treatment given to queer clientele,” said Alice Worley of Civic’s Freestyle Tattoo.
“For the most part, this was made clear to these individuals by general feelings of something else; whether the tattoo artist just would not talk to them, or would not look them in the eye, just generally be awkward and clearly uncomfortable by tattooing a queer person. But sometimes slander and denial of service would be thrown out. “
Although today we see more than just the ‘symbolic female artist’ in salons around Canberra, there is still a long history of sexism.
“My mentor gave me a shot at an apprenticeship because he thought women work harder than men, simple and straightforward,” Alice recalled. “While it was a great opportunity, it was not exactly a great environment for a naive 18-year-old.”
While still a male-dominated industry, Canberra’s scene continues to make progress with a stronger representation of female artists and the emergence of a studio made entirely of women, Sisters Inked.
Sisters Inked was founded by sisters Keshna and Mikaela Angelidis earlier this year and aims to be a safe, friendly and welcoming place for everyone – but especially for those who may be afraid to walk into a more ‘traditional’ tattoo parlor.
“It can be very scary to get into these spaces,” Keshna said. “And in many ways, there’s a lot of vulnerability involved in getting tattooed, which makes things worse for queer people.”
“I think it’s important to specifically and consciously design spaces that are safe and accommodating for queer and gender differences people so that no one feels excluded from wearing art on the body or is uncomfortable in the process.”
If you are looking for an inclusive tattoo parlor, Alice says one of the best things to look for is diversity.
“Diversity can be seen in the artists ‘gender, the artists’ sexuality or even any evidence of their involvement in and support for the queer community,” she says.
While Alice had a challenging start in the industry, Keshna had the opposite beginning.
“My personal experience as a woman in the tattoo industry has honestly been wonderful. I worked in hospitality before tattooing and it was a much more toxic environment. I can only speak for myself, but I have personally been treated with respect and kindness. ”
Both women are – not surprisingly – eager advocates of seeing more female and queer artists come into the fold, but warn against coming up with plenty of gravel.
“You never get an apprenticeship without proving your artistic skills, so put together the most impressive portfolio you can produce. Points will always be awarded for a strong drawing style and proof of sketching pieces to prove you have not tracked down others. work, ”says Alice.
“I want to give anyone who wants to start tattooing the same advice: keep working on your artwork, create a portfolio and be prepared to work hard,” Keshna adds.
For all aspiring artists out there, Alice says it’s important to find a store run by an artist.
“[Artists are] more likely to worry about the quality of work than the profit. Money-driven, non-tattoo owners are much more likely to push you too hard and get you to start tattooing full time before you are ready. ”
Alice and Keshna’s best tips for getting a custom design you love at a tattoo parlor
- Find an artist whose style you love – you will have to trust them and their process.
- Tell them what you want (unicorn, rose, rainbow, etc.). You can include a reference image.
- Tell them where you want it.
- Tell them the rough size.
- Keep it short.
- Give them free advice to make something perfect – they will produce something beautiful just as much as you want something beautiful for the rest of your life.
Feature Image: Pexels