By Dawn Cooke
In honor of women’s history month I have compiled a list of women in the history of tattooing. This is not a complete history by any means. There are hundreds of women throughout time who have contributed to the art form and trade of tattooing. Unfortunately a lot of them have gone unaccounted for. I have tried to find some of the lesser-known women to highlight here however some of the well-known artists have also been included. I have included women with at least 20 years under their belts. I was overwhelmed with the response to my idea to write this article.
Some of the women earlier on in history who paved the way for us included several sideshow performers. Betty Broadbent and lady Viola are among the most well known. In the 1930’s Mildred Hull was one of the few women tattoo artists working on the bowery in NY. The beloved Cindy Ray from Australia, tattooed into the year 2007. These ladies have set our roots and our history is being made as we speak. But here are 20 women, most of whom are tattooing still, who deserve recognition for their contributions! These women tattooed long before social media and Reality television. They may not be masters at social media but they are masters of their craft. Take the time too look into these great artists! (In no particular order.)
1.Madame Chinchilla http://triangletattoo.com
2.Loretta Lue http://leufamilyiron.com
3.Pat Fish http://www.luckyfish.com
By Deb Yarian
I’m past middle age now, so I was a child when TV was still fairly young and I still remember when television was broadcast only in B & W. I also remember when there were only 7 channels (and this was in NYC), the three major networks, three local networks and the public broadcast network. They came on early in the morning, ran programs and commercials throughout the day – but ended sometime after midnight, culminating with a picture of a waving American flag, the playing of the national anthem and then dead air and static, literally static- till they resumed broadcasting in the morning.
When the weekly TV guide came out, I would plot my viewing for the days ahead- first searching for my favorite shows, then looking for any specials or movies I wanted to watch and then i’d adjust my schedule for time conflicts.
This continued, to a degree through my teens, when other interests like REAL LIFE got in the way of my television viewing habits.
Fast forward thirty- years… I’ve changed- tv viewing has changed.
I still enjoy watching a few series that I have set to record. I still love watching movies and can do so on any of the many movie viewing options available – in color, high def etc, and so goes the evolution of my tv watching.
When I first became aware of tattoos, as a teenager in the 70s, and started tattooing, I was also acutely aware of the absence of tattoos and tattooing on TV.
Tattooing was still an underground art then and tattoos just did not fit in to everyday, mainstream American life… there was little, if any, mention or presence of them on TV or in the movies with the exception of a couple of movies: The Illustrated Man,1969 and Tattoo, 1981 as well as an occasional documentary or the very rare appearance of a tattooer on TV.
By Deb Yarian
By Dawn Cooke
I have been traveling on and off since the beginning of my career. I haven’t always been able to travel as much as some of my peers because I have other obligations that make travel less accessible to me. But whenever I can I try to visit places and often I go where I have friends. True friends in life and in tattooing are hard to come by but as I have learned once you find them they make life so much more enjoyable.
There are several reasons that I travel. I go for work, I go for pleasure, I go to network with others in tattooing and I go for inspiration. Nothing pays off more than being inspired by your peers. That’s why instagram is such a big hit! But instead of being glued to your phone get out there and meet all those great artists Face to face!
I recently went to Eagle River Alaska to visit my good friend Deb Yarian. It is a really beautiful place. Mountains, Fresh air, I really got the feeling that people there try to look out for one another. So different from here in metro Detroit where I am from. I have tried to bring a little of that brotherly love back here to Detroit with me. Being there just really made me look at the world a little differently. People there are somewhat isolated and it seems like it makes they so much kinder to one another.
By Deb Yarian
My recent, internationally distributed book (ha ha), “So You Want To Be A Tattoo Artist?”- Helpful hints on getting started in an exciting career as a tattoo artist, with little or no training or skill, caused quite a furor in the tattoo world.
Both seasoned and novice tattooers alike, voiced outrage and indignation at what started out as a joke between my oldest son and me and then evolved into a satirical corporate style handbook.
While I understand that people are protective about what they are infatuated with, involved in and devoted to, I was still surprised and amused at the anger expressed by my critics. Fortunately, there were far greater positive responses and most of my friends and peers, those whom I respect, got it and appreciate the humor.
By Deb Yarian
In my last installment of Lessons from Inksmith and Roger’s week 1, I explain that I had the pleasure of sending my second son, Nick, having just finished up an apprenticeship at our family shop in Alaska, to the world famous Inksmith and Roger’s Tattoo in Jacksonville, Florida for what many would consider a chance of a lifetime and a great opportunity for a brand new tattooer.
As a young tattooer I didn’t have a formal apprenticeship. Like many of my contemporaries, I went to work too early, as the means for another’s source of income. Through fortunate circumstances though, I formed a lifelong friendship with Eric Inksmith, and was blessed to have Paul Rogers, as a dear friend and mentor.
So it was with great pleasure, and some nostalgia that I sent my second son, Nick to Inksmith and Rogers in Jacksonville, FL for a month long visit and learning experience after he finished his apprenticeship with me, his father and brother at our family shop in Alaska.
I couldn’t help but to think, what a great opportunity for any young tattooer and it made me wish I was a 20 year old new tattooer again!
I spoke to Crash about somehow chronicling Nick’s experience there and I spoke to my son about that prospect. The conversation went like this- (more…)
By Brynne Palmer
I have been so fortunate to meet some amazing people in the tattoo industry, and one of them I really look up to is Debra. She’s been tattooing for longer than I’ve been alive, and her accomplishments in her work and family life are truly impressive. Her demeanor is so sweet and comforting, when she tattooed me at the last SFO convention I felt like we were just old friends having a lunch date! When she told me she would like to contribute to our blog, I was so excited to get more of a glimpse into her life and family, and how she seamlessly balances the two. Deb, thank you for sharing with us; and for doing all you do as a tattooer, wife, mother and grandmother! (more…)
Dawn Cooke: What was your first tattoo?
Debra Yarian: I wish I could remember the name. It was a name on an older Mexican man’s hands, at a flea market in Phoenix, Arizona. We were on our way back to California and he had a step van there that he had converted into a tattoo shop. At the time people would set up on the weekend and tattoo at this flea market. I mean, Peter’s Tattoos – who was Peter Poulos, a legitimate shop – would set up at the flea market too… (more…)
Chad Koeplinger: What about stylistically? The way that you tattoo is pretty fucking unique looking, I think. You can tell it’s one of your tattoos. You have a certain look to them. I know the magazine does like to talk a little bit about technique so we can get into that. But first things first, is there or was there someone’s tattooing that you saw that was maybe the light bulb that clicked for the way you’ve developed your style? Was there some influence with anyone, or was it just kind of something that happened and you went that way?
Jeff Gogué: So you started the Worldwide Tattoo Conference. Can you explain what that is?
Alex de Pase: When I thought about the Worldwide Tattoo Conference, I thought about what’s really needed in the tattoo industry. There are many kinds of conventions but I would like to something where you could exchange experiences and exchange knowledge with the best tattoo artists in my opinion. I think when you tell your story people can understand much more than they can by just watching you work. That’s why I thought about the Worldwide Tattoo Conference being different from the normal seminars. I wanted to bring the artists together and have the audience listen to them. In this way you can exchange more ideas and you can have more input. When I saw the feedback of the people who went to Chicago or Rome it made me very proud and very happy. My hair stood up like this because these people really kept what I had in mind before I started the Worldwide Tattoo Conference… (more…)
By Molly Skobba
I have not known Brynne Palmer for a long time, but I feel like I’ve known her for years already. I attribute that to her sweet and open personality. Her sunny disposition immediately puts you at ease and any intimidation seems to melt away. Brynne has been tattooing for almost eight years. She started out at Tattoo Mania in L.A. and currently works at Gold Rush in Costa Mesa, California… (more…)
I have been making contact with other female tattoo artists. And before you groan, like, “Oh geez… Not another feminist rant… boo!” Give this a chance because I think you might be at the very least slightly impressed or inspired by more than one of these women, I sure am! Please bare in mind the truth that there was a time when it was far more rare to see a woman tattoo artist who could lay down a solid tattoo. These days we are luckier than those who came before us and paved the way. Plus, there have always been terrible male artists also, but they never got that much attention anyway. So the focus seems to have been harder on the ladies. Attitudes toward the sexes are ever-changing…