Tat­too par­lours are the new day spa

Wel­come to your new hang­out – though you may leave with some­thing slightly more per­ma­nent than a pedi­cure

ELLE (Australia) - - First Look -


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.

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