From groundbreaking tattooists to today’s rising stars, meet America’s amazing female ink artists.
Kadriya Truvillion knows that she breaks a lot of old stereotypes about the tattoo industry. Not only is she a thin Black girl working in an industry full of bearded white guys, but she’s also gay, a bit of a video game nerd and completely uninterested in the “tough” image that comes with tattoo culture. In short, she’s not who people expect to see when they walk in the door of Purple Panther Tattoos in Los Angeles.
“Being the only Black female in my shop, I thought it was going to be more of an issue than it is,” Truvillion said. “To be honest, it’s not that big of an issue, and it’s something that I can step up and conquer with no problem. Tattooing big dudes can be intimidating at first, but once you start talking to them and the jitters calm down, everyone ends up being pretty nice.”
Truvillion is a part of a new breed of tattooers who grew up drawing their favorite cartoon characters (for her, it was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and never worried about preserving the underground subculture the art form has long outgrown. But that’s not to say the young tattooer isn’t appreciative of the history and traditions of the trade—she just doesn’t need a subculture based around raucous parties at best and racism and sexism at worst.
Conversely, it’s the history of women in her field that really means the most for Truvillion. Although she only started tattooing in 2016, she knows what so many went through just to force open the door for people like her. And now she wants to do her best to earn their respect.
“There are so many really, really talented women who came before me, and then here I am just trying to get my sweat—so to speak—in,” Truvillion said. “There’s still so much that I have to learn, and it can be pretty daunting sometimes, but I love it. There have been moments where I’ve felt overwhelmed or outclassed, but I just keep my head down and keep doing what I’m doing. I feel like I’m getting better every day.”