Tattoo parlours are the new day spa
Welcome to your new hangout – though you may leave with something slightly more permanent than a pedicure
IT’S LITTLE WONDER THAT WHEN DIOR’S
Maria Grazia Chiuri and makeup artist Peter Philips faux-tattooed tender words by poet André Breton onto models for SS18 couture (one translated to: “In the beginning it is not a matter of understanding, but of loving”), it was a celebrated fashion statement rather than a radical act – around one in four Australian women have been inked (moreso than men), and most of those have more than one tattoo.
Female tattoo artists are also on the rise. In 2010, around one in six were female, and while there’s no current hard stats, Kitty Hellessey from Melbourne’s Rites Of Passage tattoo festival (ritesofpassagefestival.com), estimates female artists – both local and international – make up about a quarter of the event. That hasn’t always translated to tattoo parlours though, which can conjure imagery of sterile (and not just in the Ohs-friendly way) environments, or blokey set-ups helmed by a predominantly male staff. But women are stepping up in the space.
In the US’S Brooklyn, Nice Tattoo Parlor (nicetattooparlor.com) is female-owned with all female tattooists, and counts Lena Dunham and Jemima Kirke as clients. With a cushioned day bed in the window, copper and low-slung leather chairs, and adornments that seem plucked from the “new arrivals” section of
Anthropologie’s website, it seems more like a cool café you’d go for a catch-up with a friend, rather than a place for pre-needle jitters.
“Getting tattooed can be a very intimidating process, from the moment you walk in the door, to the very first stab of the needle,” says one of Nice’s owners, Jes Dwyer. “I want to make sure everyone, not just women, has a relaxing, comfortable experience. As a woman I can empathise with my clients. I’ve been scared to walk into a shop, I’ve been poked fun at for my ideas and I’ve had sexually inappropriate things said to me during appointments. [That’s] led me to create the complete opposite.”
Closer to home, Brisbane’s The Painted Lady Tattoo Studio( the painted lady tattoo studio.com) is a boutique, female-friendly space where the artists are all female and the walls bright pink with ornate mirrors, boasting an Instagram feed filled with designs that read “GRL PWR” and “cats forever, boys whatever”. It follows that its clients are about 80 per cent female, and men are of course welcome, despite owner Clare Miles observing that “[they] are already over-catered for in what the majority of tattoo studios offer.”
As well as regular tattoo work, the studio offers vegan tattooing (regular tattoo ink can include bone char, glycerine and gelatin from animals), hypnosis for those with high anxiety or a low pain threshold, and nipple and areola re-pigmentation, popular among women who’ve had breast reconstructions or undergone mastectomies.
Clare says female tattoo artists tend to have a “softer touch” and can be particularly empathetic to women’s hygiene, comfort and body shape and size – especially considering getting a tattoo often involves disrobing.
The studio sees a lot of first-timers, which she puts down to the welcoming atmosphere, and the fact they consider no tattoo too small. “And we don’t have soft porn pictures on our walls! We want grandmothers to feel welcome too.” Now that’s something nanna could approve of.