Although the function and meaning of tattoos has changed throughout time, they have always existed as a cultural marker. In a modern western context, tattooing represents a reclamation of one’s body and a sense of autonomy. It’s a field of expression that is much more accessible now because of social media such as Instagram. But female and gender queer artists remain underrepresented in the dominant discourse about tattoos.
This list acts a directory, and hopefully the start of a more prominent female and genderqueer presence in tattoo culture. Try and get through it without making an appointment of your own!
1. Cate Webb (@catewebb)
Cate Webb is one of my all time favorite tattoo artists, and I’m not alone in feeling the love. With almost 30k Instagram followers and an ever-growing wait list, her gorgeously intricate animal tattoos are simply exquisite. She can even make a worm look badass! Webb also owns Black Cat Tattoo, which opened its doors only months ago in Victoria, BC.
2. Manuela Soto (@soto.gang)
Manuela Soto is the pinnacle of badass. Her kawaii, rap-inspired tattoos and tees have created an undeniable niche. Soto’s famous Sailor Moon-esque eyes are some of most recognizable in the game. Her “Sad Girl” tattoo is the next on my ever-growing list! Check out her products here.
3. Tamara Santibanez (@tamarasantibanez)
Tamara Santibanez’s greyscale tattoos merge Chicano and fetish imagery. Santibanez has digressed on the gender implications of social coding in tattooing, and the intersection of culture and race. Along with her visual art, she is the founding editor of Discipline Press and a regular contributor to a plethora of online publications. Check out her website and work here.
4. Lauren Winzer (@laurenwinzer)
Let me start off by saying that I have had the extreme pleasure of getting tattooed by Lauren Winzer. She is one fucking chill woman who can tattoo at the speed of light! Winzer gained international fame by inking up the one and only Miley Cyrus. She is one of the most groundbreaking figures in female tattooing. Her specialty in feminine subjects and pastels creates a counterculture to the hyper-masculinity associated with tattoo culture.
5. Sylvia Placenta (@silviaplacenta)
During one of my many long Instagram stalking stints, I came across Silvia’s work. Her barbed wire and sinewy skulls appear both bold and delicate on the skin. If you find yourself in Italy and ready for a morbid black and white tattoo, Silvia Placenta boasts an impressive hand-poked catalog.
6. Shannon Perry (@shannoneperry)
Shannon Perry owns Valentine’s Tattoo Co. in Seattle, which consistently fosters artists that work against the grain. Perry’s playfulness creates a portfolio that features everything from a Bjork portrait to Nina Simone. Her Instagram also features her constantly growing collection of personal tattoos, making her one of the single biggest catalyst’s and collaborators in current tattooing.
7. Katie So (@ghostmeadow)
A feline fanatic tattoo artist had to make it onto this list! While Katie So has much more than just little kitties in her repertoire, her range of fat cats to skulls are some of the best. Her selfies with her feline friend also make her Instagram account an interesting follow. Get on the list quick! She is slated to be a very sought-after artist for a long time.
8. Annelise Kinney (@sweetleas)
The Diving Swallow is a female and gender queer tattoo studio based in Oakland. It boasts an amazing cohort of artists, including Annelise Kinney. Her botanical work elicits a haunting quality. She captures the ephemeral beauty of flora, in a stunningly permanent matter. Her books are closed for the rest of 2016. But, see if you can score a spot for the new year!
9. Tati Compton (@taticompton)
Where do I begin with Tati Compton? I can’t explain how many of her Instagrams I have DM’d to friends, exclaiming that they must follow her! As a queen of hand-poked tattoos, she focuses on witchy/goth sex-positive images of the female body. Her precision, and the style of stick ‘n’ poke, lends itself to gorgeous rib cage and wrist pieces.
Mo Johnson is a twenty-one-year-old women’s studies major at The George Washington University. Her writings on sex, relationships, and what it means to be a millennial woman can be found on her blog. Follow her on Instagram.
More from BUST
This Woman Is Posting Her Beautiful Post-Surgery Tattoo On Social Media — Here’s Why
This Iranian Actress’s Feminist Tattoo Is Bringing Out All The Trolls
17 Images Of Beautiful Botanical Tattoos