Gentle Men (2018)
While origins of tattooing are varied and diverse, historically North American tattooing in the 20th century has predominately been a straight male occupation. One where women, queer and transgender artists have had limited access and visibility.
Today there are a number of talented female, queer, non-binary and transgender artists working in the medium. This is a result of their hard work and undeniable talent, as well as discussions around toxic masculinity, gender stereotypes and queerness within the community.
These discussions are becoming more common, with representations
of gender being brought to the forefront; images of women being vulnerable, physically restrained, showing affection, or crying are romanticized in all forms of art. Popular culture has become comfortable reinforcing a link between femininity and emotions, and emotions with weakness. Conversely sentiments like ‘Be a man’, ‘Man up’, and the more aggressive ’Don’t be a pussy’ imply emotions are the antithesis of masculinity, that men shouldn’t be seen as emotional lest they be considered weak.
As a queer artist, my focus has been to challenge these beliefs by creating images exploring vulnerable masculinity and gender stereotypes. Tattooing as a medium and occupation has the unique potential to dispel normalized ideas of gender as well as create safe spaces for both artists and clients. Giving both individuals a place to express their own ideas around queerness and gender, transforming the way they see their own body, and in turn becoming a reflection of that to other people.