Skip to main content

In honor of Women's History Month, allow us to introduce you to the top 10 most influential female artists of all time. These tattooers are truly game changers and showcase the growth of female empowerment in the industry throughout multiple generations. Take a look at our list in the gallery below and let us know your thoughts on this story in the comments section.


Maud Wagner: The OG Artist

Maud Wagner, born in 1877, was America's first female artist, meeting her husband Gus Wagner at the 1904 World's Fair while traveling as a circus performer. Gus went on to teach Maud how to tattoo in the traditional hand poke style, despite the invention of the tattoo machine. The couple became some of the last artists to work in this style and they spent the rest of their lives traveling the country—working both as tattooers and tattoo attractions in the sideshow scene. Wagner died in 1961, leaving her and her husband's tattoo legacy to their daughter Lotteva.


Whang-od: The Traditional Timepiece

Born in 1917, Whang-od is the oldest working artist in the world. Whang-od began tattooing at the age of 15 and for nearly 90 years, has performed traditional Kalinga tattooing. This is a traditional tattoo style of the Butbut people and primarily tattoos Buscalan tourists in the Phillippines. 


Shanghai Kate Hellenbrand: The Industry Legend

Shanghai Kate Hellenbrand began her tattoo career in 1971 and one year later, she was invited by Norman "Sailor Jerry" Collins to be part of The Council of Seven at the first international tattoo convention in Hawaii. Collins went on to apprentice Hellenbrand, who later would work alongside industry legends such as Ed Hardy and Jack Rudy. Hellenbrand still tattoos to this day, inking clients at Shanghai Kate's Tattoo Parlor in Austin, Texas.


Hannah Aitchison: The Television Titan

Hannah Aitchinson is a world-renowned artist with over twenty years of industry experience. She's best known for starring on a number of tattoo reality shows, including LA Ink and Best Ink as a judge. Today, she tattoos out of Curiosity Shop with her husband Scott White. 


Rose Hardy: The Jane of All Trades

In 11 seasons of Ink Master, there has only been one woman guest judge. That woman is Rose Hardy. Hardy is a legendary tattoo artist originally from New Zealand and based in New York City. Hardy may specialize in neo-traditional tattoo, however, she can expertly apply tattoos in black-and-grey and color realism. She's truly a Jane of All Trades.


Kat Von D: The Game Changer

When it comes to tattoo artists not only succeeding in the industry but the mainstream world, Kat Von D has cornered both markets. Starring in Miami Ink and LA Ink Von D became the most recognizable artist on television. Then, Von D pursued a career as a makeup mogul and has developed one of the most successful beauty brands under the sun. Currently, she's the most followed tattoo artist on social media and has been on the cover of INKED 5 times.


Megan Massacre: The Rebel Child

Megan Massacre got her start tattooing in 2004 at just 18-years-old and went on to star on NY Ink. She later appeared on America's Worst Tattoos and Bondi Ink. Today, Massacre co-owns NYC's Grit and Glory and continues to ink high-profile celebrities such as Zayn Malik.  

Photo by @shootmepeter

Photo by @shootmepeter

Ryan Ashley Malarkey: The Ink Master Icon

In 2016, Ryan Ashley Malarkey became the first woman to win Paramount's Ink Master. Following her success on the reality competition, Malarkey starred alongside fellow competitors Kelly Doty and Nikki Simpson in Ink Master: Angels. Today, she operates a private studio in NYC and tattoos at conventions around the world.


Grace Neutral: The Offbeat Influencer

British tattooist Grace Neutral walks to the beat of her own drum, both as a body modification enthusiast and an artist. Neutral is a celebrated hand poke artist who's risen to mainstream acclaim after starring in Viceland's Needles and Pins, a documentary series that investigates tattoo culture around the world.


Miryam Lumpini: The Next Big Thing

When it comes to the future of tattooing, keep your eyes on Miryam Lumpini. This half Swedish, half Congolese artist is dominating the Los Angeles tattoo scene, having inked major stars such as Jhené Aiko, Swae Lee, and Skrillex. Not only are Lumpini's bright and bold tattoo designs here to stay, but she's also building a name for herself that will stand the tests of time.