When picking an artist for your tattoo, there’s more to focus on than style. Ensuring your artist’s values align with your own is also an important factor.
Depending on the size of the piece you’re getting, you can potentially spend hours together one-on-one – imagine, you’re halfway through an all-day session when your artist suddenly makes a racist, homophobic or sexist comment – you still have several hours to spend together and have to put your money in their pocket.
Fortunately, with more women, LGBTQIA+, POC and non-binary artists becoming a part of the tattoo community, the industry is much more inclusive than ever before. However, as with other creative industries that are male-dominated, there’s still remnants of discrimination and prejudice.
The majority of artists nowadays use Instagram to showcase their work and make their values clear. Inclusive artists will often add the transgender and pride flags in their bio, list their pronouns and include statements like ‘all bodies and skin tones welcome’, as well as citing their studio as a safe and inclusive space for all.
Another sign of inclusivity is posting photos of their work on marginalised bodies. As well as ensuring they showcase their art on black and brown skin, make note of the body types photographed; have they posted images of any plus-sized, trans and disabled clients – or does their feed mainly consist of half-naked, straight-sized, white women?
Lastly, look at the tattoos themselves – have they tattooed any xenophobic or right-wing symbols? More often than not, these can be very easy to spot; however, they can sometimes be more obscure. The majority of reputable artists would point blank refuse to tattoo such symbols, but unfortunately that isn’t always the case. If you see any symbols on an artist’s social media that you are unsure about, make sure to do your research before booking.
Ensuring you work with inclusive artists is a way to help weed out prejudice from the industry; artists can only continue practising if they have clients. The more people that call for progression in the industry, the less room there is for artists with outdated views and discriminatory ideologies – making the tattoo community a safer space for artists and clients alike.
Inclusivity and diversity is extremely important to us at Sheffield Tattoo Festival. Last year, 58% of our attending artists identified as female, 12.5% were non-binary, 15% were POC and 18.5% were members of the LGBTQIA+ community. We pride ourselves on being a safe space for all and only work with artists who align with our values. We look forward to welcoming another diverse lineup of artists this September!