7 tattoo artists whose work goes beyond skin deep

7 tattoo artists whose work goes beyond skin deep

If you're gonna get a tattoo, make it mean something

Whether or not you're into getting inked, you'd have to have been under a rock to not have noticed that the tattoo scene has blown up in recent years, with a new wave of artists, styles, and trends that challenge traditional stereotypes.

Here are seven woke tattoo artists you need to get to know...


1. Patrick Bates, Brighton, UK

Based in the UK but with guest spots in tattoo studios around the world, Patrick has gained a huge Instagram following for his small, hand-poked slogan tattoos that often serve as affirmations and statements around mental health ('Be kind', 'Self love'). If a tattoo is a step too far for you, you can buy T-shirts from his online store featuring some of his most-tattooed lines like 'I am good enough' and 'You are beautiful'.



2. Femme Fatale, London, UK

The clue's in the name: this all-female studio is run by model, presenter and tattoo artist Grace Neutral, celebrating women and with a host of tattooists that between them cover most styles. Their work doesn't stop there: they recently hosted a studio event with proceeds going to a charity that supports transgender and gender variant children and their families.



 3. MKNZ, Seattle, USA

Flying the flag for body positivity and queer identities, tattoo artist MKNZ operates out of Valentine's Tattoo in Seattle and has gained a following for their free formed, hand-poked pastel designs. Their work explores themes around mental health, feminism, sex positivity, and are often gloriously NSFW.



4. Anji Marth, Spokane, USA

Actively challenging the lack of representation for people with darker skin tones in the tattoo world, Anji started offering free tattoo colour tests to POC in her Washington studio so that anyone can see how different tones might look on their skin. She's a trailblazer, as this practice has since been adopted by many other studios in the USA.



5. Sean Williams, Los Angeles, USA

It's hard to pinpoint just one theme that Sean has based his work around in recent years, but this year has seen him turn his hand to environmental concerns, with plastic pollution, climate change and animal related designs featuring the slogan 'leave me alone' and a recent stint of work offering all proceeds to wildlife charities.



 6. Rachel Howe, Los Angeles, USA

Artist Rachel describes her  work as 'multi-dimensional, joining healing and the arts'. Having opened her first shop this year and her tattoos drawing from the iconography of astrology and tarot, she says, 'Whether through energy work, a hand-poked tattoo, or a t-shirt, the aim is always to lift up those around me, to raise the level of communication and self-awareness, and to enable personal healing and growth to occur. If you can't make it to LA for a tattoo, you can buy a book of Rachel's artwork here: http://smallspells.com/new-products/tattoo-flash-book



7. Mathew Sawyer, London, UK

Artist Mathew worked in the mediums of music, paper and clothing before beginning to tattoo his art on people. With designs ranging from the ironic to the silly and the downright meta, there's recurring themes around mental health and identity, but with an added dose of humour. He's doing a guest spot in Zurich in the New Year, too!