How Women Are Rethinking the Tattoo Parlor – The New York …

Ms. Dwyer said that 90 percent of Nice Tattoos clientele are women, and most of those who already have tattoos have never been inked by a woman before. It doesnt surprise me, she said. Ms. Dwyer, 34, has worked in the business since she was 22, often as a sole female employee.

Apprenticeships, integral to a tattooists career, can be harder for women to land. I feel like were not taken as seriously, and its just a boys club, Ms. Dwyer said. It still is.

Visitors to Nice Tattoos sun-filled space on Court Street will find little semblance of the archetypal tattoo parlor. Theres the front lounge flanked by two velvet couches, white walls hung with abstract artwork, exotic flower arrangements from Fox Fodder Farms and a mural by the artist Lorraine Nam showcasing portraits of those involved in the parlors opening all visible through wide storefront windows. Potential clients typically come by for a business card and may end up emailing for a consultation later; others discover the shop through Instagram or by word of mouth.

She found me through Lena Dunhams Instagram, Ms. Dwyer said, gesturing to Deanna DiCroce, who had arrived for her appointment (a butterfly tattoo) on a recent Saturday. Ms. Dunhams Girls co-star Jemima Kirke, a client who lives in the neighborhood, had recommended the shop.

Id been to a bunch of places in the East Village and didnt leave with the best vibes, Ms. DiCroce said. Its intimidating.

Margot Pascal, a leather goods designer, is another Nice Tattoo client. She has two tattoos from earlier experiences at mostly male parlors. At some other places I often felt judged because of my tattoo design, Ms. Pascal said. I ended up going with an artist who was a nice, shy guy. But the place, the vibe no love.

Whats more, because some tattoos may require disrobing, a woman can feel especially vulnerable with male artists. Even apart from the question of safety, some women prefer female artists for the same reason they choose female doctors, Ms. Mifflin said. The interaction is intimate.

Robert Boyle, a founder of Nice Tattoo, said that Nice wasnt intentionally positioned as an all-female tattoo parlor. After we started to understand the implication of providing an alternative space for female artists, it became a position we felt was culturally important, he said.

Once an anomaly, female-run shops have become more common in recent years. In 2009, Natalia Borgia founded Beaver Tattoo, a tattoo parlor in the Woodhaven neighborhood of Queens staffed by women. It was the subject of the 2011 short documentary Feminine Ink, in which the artists spoke of the advantages of working in such a studio notably, a lack of competition and a willingness to share trade techniques.

In the beginning, people coming in would ask for the guy and assume the girl behind the desk was a receptionist, Ms. Borgia said in an interview. Today, a roughly equal number of women and men make up Beavers clientele. I do see improvement in how women are seen in this industry, but I think we still have a long way to go, Ms. Borgia said.

Other like-minded businesses have opened. Last year, Welcome Home Studio, which welcomes female, trans, queer and gender-nonconforming individuals as its resident artists, set up shop in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. Looking ahead, Nices owners hope to make its experience more widely available, starting with a shop on the West Coast.

Its such a simple concept, Ms. Dwyer said. Its like hospitality. Ive bartended, Ive waitressed maybe that helps. I dont know, I just treat people the way Id want to be treated. Any place.

An earlier version of this article misidentified the location of Beaver Tattoo. It is in Woodhaven, Queens, not Woodside.

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How Women Are Rethinking the Tattoo Parlor – The New York …