10 women artists who changed the tattoo industry

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In honor of Women’s History Month, allow us to bring you the top 10 most influential female artists of all time. These tattoo artists are a real game changer and show the growth of female empowerment in the industry over generations. Take a look at our list in the gallery below and let us know your thoughts on this story in the comments section.

Maud Wagner: the OG artist

Maud Wagner, born in 1877, was the first American woman artist. She met her husband Gus Wagner at the 1904 World’s Fair while traveling as a circus artist. Gus then taught Maud how to tattoo in the traditional helping hand style, despite the invention of the tattoo machine. The couple became one of the last artists to work in this style, and they spent the rest of their lives traveling the country, working both as tattoo artists and tattoo attractions on the stage of the show. Wagner died in 1961, leaving her husband and her tattooing legacy to their daughter Lotteva.

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Whang-od: the traditional timepiece

Born in 1917, Whang-od is the oldest working artist in the world. Whang-od started tattooing at the age of 15 and has been practicing traditional Kalinga tattooing for almost 90 years. This is a traditional tattoo style of the Butbut people and mainly tattoos from Buscalan tourists in the Philippines.

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Shanghai Kate Hellenbrand: the legend of the industry

Shanghai Kate Hellenbrand began her tattoo career in 1971 and a year later was invited by Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins to be part of the Council of Seven at the first international tattoo convention in Hawaii. Collins became an apprentice Hellenbrand, who would later work alongside industry legends such as Ed Hardy and Jack Rudy. Hellenbrand still tattoos to this day, inking clients at the Shanghai Kate tattoo parlor in Austin, Texas.

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Hannah Aitchison: the titan of television

Hannah Aitchinson is a world renowned artist with over twenty years of experience in the industry. She is best known for appearing in a number of tattoo reality shows including Ink and Better ink as a judge. Today she tattoos at Curiosity Shop with her husband Scott White.

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Rose Hardy: The Jane of All Trades

In 11 seasons of Ink master, there was only one female judge invited. This woman is Rose Hardy. Hardy is a legendary New Zealand tattoo artist based in New York City. Hardy may specialize in neo-traditional tattooing, however, she can expertly apply black and gray tattoos and color realism. She is truly a Jane of All Trades.

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Kat Von D: The Game Changer

When it comes to tattoo artists who are successful not only in the industry but in the mainstream world, Kat Von D has cornered both markets. Featured in Miami ink and Ink Von D has become the most recognizable artist on television. Then Von D pursued a career as a makeup mogul and developed one of the most successful beauty brands under the sun. Currently, she is the most followed tattoo artist on social media and has been on the cover of INKED 5 times.

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Megan Massacre: The Rebel Child

Megan Massacre started tattooing in 2004 at just 18 and continued to star in New York ink. She later appeared on America’s Worst Tattoos and Bondi ink. Today, Massacre is a co-owner of NYC’s Grit and Glory and continues to ink prominent celebrities such as Zayn Malik.

Photo by @shootmepeter

Photo by @shootmepeter

Ryan Ashley Malarkey: The Inkmaster Icon

In 2016, Ryan Ashley Malarkey became the first woman to win Paramount’s Ink master. Following her success in the reality show contest, Malarkey starred alongside fellow contestants Kelly Doty and Nikki Simpson in Master of Ink: Angels. Today, she operates a private studio in New York City and tattoos at conventions around the world.

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Grace Neutral: The quirky influencer

British tattoo artist Grace Neutral walks to the beat of her own drum, both as a body modification lover and as an artist. Neutral is a famous hand poke artist who is acclaimed by the general public after performing in Viceland’s Needles And Pins, a documentary series that investigates tattoo culture around the world.

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Miryam Lumpini: The Next Big Thing

As for the future of tattooing, keep an eye out for Miryam Lumpini. This half-Swedish, half-Congolese artist dominates the Los Angeles tattoo scene, having inked big stars such as Jhené Aiko, Swae Lee and Skrillex. Not only are Lumpini’s bright and bold tattoo designs here to stay, but she’s also building a name for herself that will stand the test of time.


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