Getting Tattooed by a Female Artist Was the Feminist Bonding Moment of My Dreams

Choosing a tattoo artist is as intense a decision as choosing a hairstylist or a shrink: It's a person to whom you spill your guts, with whom you share such intimate moments that odds are they'll have an impact on your life forever. In the case of a tattoo artist, that lifelong impression is guaranteed in ink.

I started getting tattooed the week after I turned 18. I don't have a ton of tattoos (six in total), but with each one I get, I learn more about not only my taste in body art but also what I want out of the tattoo experience itself. After all, every time you look back on a tattoo, you remember the situation you were in at the time and what that represented. The artist-client relationship is important.

Two years ago, I started accumulating a little collection of delicate black-and-gray pieces on my left arm that all have to do with plants and herbs—I have a little sprig of lavender from celebrity tattooist Jon Boy, some basil from a cool shop in Brooklyn called Fleur Noire. But when I decided it was time to add an arugula leaf to the mix (it's my favorite lettuce), I was dead set on changing one important detail about every tattoo experience I'd had before: I wanted to work with a female artist.

Tattooing was almost an entirely male-dominated industry until the 21st century, when high-profile female artists like Kat Von D started bringing more visibility to the mere idea of women tattooing. Exact stats on how many women there are in the tattoo field are hard to find, but as more and more women are getting tattoos (40% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 have at least one), the chasmic gender gap is closing all the time.

Still, most of the best-known artists, from industry vets to Instagram-famous tattooers, are men. So, wanting to help support the growing community of women tattoo artists—and to see if the experience of getting tattooed by a woman would be any different—I resolved that my next tattoo would be a ladies-only event. And boy, oh boy (or gal oh gal, as it were) am I glad I did.

From Our Partners