Now that TLC is giving equal time to the “Miami Ink” and “LA Ink” crowds (essentially, a male shop vs. a female shop) I’m beginning to wonder if people have preferences for one gender artist over the other.
For a long time, the number of female tattoo artists was vanishingly small compared to that of males. That was
understandable, because tattoo parlors themselves tended to have mostly male clientele and the “ambience” reflected that. But as more and more women (other than biker babes and circus performers) began to get inked, it stood to reason that women would also brave the rigors of tattoo-artist apprenticeships and take up the needle themselves.
I can’t really tell if styles differ by gender or whether one group tends to pick one style more or less than the other. Two of my tattoos were done by men, and the third and its revival and extension were done by women. All the artists were equally good, as far as I can tell. The two women artists were noticeably younger than I am, which seems to be more or less the case everywhere–another indication of how recently women were able to break into the profession in larger numbers.
If you’re getting a tattoo in a private spot, perhaps a same-gender artist would make you feel more at ease, but that’s not necessarily so. After all, piercers have been doing intimate work for ages, gender notwithstanding. If you’re having custom artwork designed, perhaps a same-gender artist would find it easier to express your point of view, but again, that’s not necessarily the case.
In the end, I think tattoo parlors are one place where people really are created equal–except that some are better artists than others, and that’s got nothing to do with gender and everything to do with talent.