CONFESSIONS OF A FEMALE TATTOO ARTIST
We caught up with our favourite female and LGBTQ+ business owner, Sarah, of Pretty In Ink in Suffolk, to pick her brains about what it's like to run a female-focussed space, and what her experiences have been in the often intimidating world of tattoo shops...
Q: Why do you think tattoo studios can be traditionally intimidating?
A: Most tattooists are very friendly, kind people, but there’s always a worry about turning up somewhere new, especially when you’re usually met by a rather heavily tattooed and pierced individual.
You don’t want to feel that they’re looking down on your design.
A lot of tattoo studios can be dark, gothic or sterile, with a lot of people milling about, so can be very intimidating going in. I was incredibly nervous getting my first one, and can still feel a little anxious going somewhere new.
Q: Why is it important for women to have a female-run tattoo studio?
A: It’s so important for anyone to feel they have a safe space, and I just think you can achieve that more at a female run studio. Whether you just don’t want to be surrounded by toxic masculinity, as a man or woman, or you’re after a brighter, more chatty environment, it’s good to feel you can relax, especially as you may be feeling a little vulnerable anyway.
Q: What has your experience been like as a woman working in the tattoo industry?
A: My experience has been varied… On one hand, I have made fantastic friends, two of my closest are both female tattoo artists, and as tattooing is still a hugely male dominated industry, we have really found it amazing to be able to build each other up, and have formed a huge bond over the profession.
There are also the downsides, where there is an element of toxic masculinity (not in all studios I must stress) where keeping up with the “banter” is often hard work, but mandatory. This is one of the reasons I went out on my own.
Q: How did you decide to bite the bullet and start your own business?
A: I have always been dedicated to providing the best service for all my customers, and the next step was to create an even more relaxing, inclusive and welcoming environment, where I strive to make everyone who comes in as comfortable as possible!
It was a natural step from renting a chair, and when the perfect space became available, I jumped at the chance! Being able to be your own boss is liberating, and I love it! It has its challenges, especially in this climate, but being able to set the vibe of your space, and work to the beat of your own drum is awesome.
Q: Tell us about the aesthetic of your studio…
A: Its colourful, quirky and stylish, but also bright, relaxing and comfortable!
Among the funky pictures and leopard print, there’s an aesthetic that really speaks to people, and there’s a lot to distract you, which is great when you are being tattooed.
It’s feminine, but not so much that it repels my male customers. (A guy won’t care that there’s a bright pink Chesterfield in the corner) but the colours and pictures seem to relax people, and Giles the large ceramic leopard is always a talking point!
Q: Tell us why your studio chooses to support Outreach Youth?
A: I am an active member in the LGBTQ+ community, and it hugely supports me and my business, and I wanted to try and give something back. They do amazing work within the area, and being a smaller charity I love that I can support them where I can.
The charity events have always been hugely popular, and I know the donations made by everyone will make a massive difference.
It’s so important to try and support charities where you can, and I really love the collaboration we have made.
Q: What’s the tattoo you’re asked to do the most? What’s the worst tattoo you’ve ever been asked to do (or any other funny anecdote our readers might like)?
A: I genuinely love my job, and every tattoo that comes through my door means something special to someone, and it’s humbling that people trust me with their designs.
A lot of my customers come to me for my fun, colourful, quirky tattoo designs, and I live for anything geeky or Disney, but I really am happy to follow all the trends, and I try to work accordingly.
That said … I have tattooed two W’s, one on each but cheek, so when my customer bent over, it reads… Well, you know!
Check out the original and fantastical designs that were born in our collab with Pretty In Ink HERE! 💖