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The tattoo world has changed significantly from its pristine days and a big part of this changed was brought by some of the best female tattoo artists.
In this article, we will look at the female tattoo artists who paved the way for the next generations. These tattoo artists were real game-changers who highlighted how female empowerment has grown in the field over many decades. Some of the best tattoo studios in London are still inspired by the stories of these strong and talented female tattoo artists to this day.
It goes without saying that women have contributed significantly to the invention and development of a wide variety of industries around the world. Unfortunately, we rarely learn about women who have stood out and overcame incredible odds.
1. Maud Wagner: First female tattoo artist in the United States
Maud Steven Wagner of Lyon County, Kansas, was the first female tattoo artist in the United States. Maud, who was born in 1877, grew up in a home with few possibilities and in extreme poverty. Maud made the decision to leave home as a teenager and join the circus.
When Maud first encountered Gus Wagner, a young man with numerous tattoos and a reputation as a gifted artist, she was so taken with the man's body art that she agreed to go on a date with him in exchange for tattooing lessons, but the two quickly fell in love.
After a while, Maud decided to leave the circus and began to develop in the field of art tattoos. Maud established herself as the first female tattoo artist to perfect the hand-poking technique that she used exclusively and to never use an electric tattoo machine.
Maud is credited with bringing tattoos to a larger audience in addition to being the country's first female tattoo artist. It is important to note that it was this tattoo artist who pioneered the spread of tattooing without the use of a specialized machine.
Naturally, this approach was not favored by many tattoo artists because of specialized machines which were more comfortable and easy to use, but it was Maud's special feature.
The Society is grateful for all the contributions made by Maud Steven Wagner. Many art tattoo studios are inspired by the styles of her work which are considered iconic to this day.
2. Jessie Knight: Pioneer Tattoo Artist in London
Jessie Knight, the first female tattoo artist in London, was the granddaughter of sailor Leonard Knight and was born in 1904.
Her father, who had traveled much as a sailor and had worked as both a circus performer and a tattoo artist in Britain, was the source of her lifelong passion for tattooing.
Her father belonged to the list of outstanding tattoo artists. When she was only 18, her father gave her the authority to run the family tattoo studio.
Her age and gender surprised many of her clients, but she persisted in pursuing her love. She was beginning her profession as she grew older.
Jessie Knight, a pioneer in the field, was the first and only female tattoo artist to practice professionally in Britain for more than 40 years.
Jessie used no stencils while working and advertised herself on her business cards as "The World-Famous Jessie Knight: Expert Freehand Lady Tattoo Artist."
After that, she became famous as a tattoo artist in London. The work which Jessie Knight did was of great value and pleasure to her. For this reason, it allowed Jessie Knight to remain the best tattoo artist for many years.
Setting the bar for the subsequent generation of female tattoo artists and creating a lasting legacy in the tattoo business, Jessie Knight was a true feminist icon.
She was the first female tattoo artist in London and despite all the difficulties and censure in society, she made history and achieved tremendous success. Many tattoo artists in London are still inspired by Jessie Knight's example these days.
3. Esther Evans: East Coast Female Tattoo Artist
One of the most skilled female tattoo artists of the 19th century was undoubtedly Esther Evans.
She started her work as a tattoo artist after studying the craft with her husband and also stylish tattoo artist, Sailor Eddie. Esther blossomed as a very accomplished artist and left a lasting legacy in her neighborhood and across the entire East Coast of the United States.
Evans was well-known for her outlandish, flamboyant, and colorful sense of style, which frequently attracted people's attention and won them over.
Esther worked as a tattoo artist at an art tattoo studio. She also operated two tattoos studious with her husband in Camden, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Unfortunately, Esther's achievements as an early female tattoo artist were substantially eclipsed by those of her husband, Sailor Eddie.
Esther Evans had a significant impact on American traditional tattooing. Today, however, it is gratifying to see women becoming more aware of Esther's contributions as a fearless tattoo artist female and businesswomen.
4. Dainty Dotty: Pioneer Female Tattoo Artist and Businesswoman
Dainty Dotty gained notoriety in the public eye in the 1930s as the "fat lady" in the Ringling Brothers' Circus.
Dainty Dotty met Owen Jensen, one of the city's well-known tattoo artists, while she was working as a circus performer in Detroit.
Dotty was inspired by the art tattoo style and this prompted her to become a tattoo artist female.
Soon after meeting, Dotty and Owen got married and became tattoo artists together.
The Jensen family relocated from Detroit to California together, where they operated a prosperous art tattoo studio in Long Beach's Pike amusement district.
Over time, the two also established a business selling supplies for tattoo artists, giving them the resources they need to produce stunning, long-lasting works of art.
With a weight of nearly 600 lbs., Dainty Dotty once held the record for being the "biggest" tattoo artist female in the world.
Her excessive weight worsened the burden on her heart, which led to a fatal heart attack in 1952.
Even though Dotty's passing was a great loss to society, she is now remembered for her contributions to body positivity, female empowerment, and in the female tattoo artist sphere.
Since the beginning of the twenty-first century to the present, a huge number of female tattoo artists have continued the tattoo tradition, modernized this once-forbidden activity, and made it into a meaningful art movement as well as a well-liked and beloved fad.
Many tattoo artists in London and around the world are inspired by the examples of these strong and incredibly talented women.
Despite all obstacles, female tattoo artists bravely continued to create art and create new trends in the world of tattoos.
The tattoo artists of our London tattoo studio continue what these great women started. They continue to create art and inspire other art tattoo studios.