These ladies are slowly making their mark with more and more women-led tattoo shops being the norm in the Philippines.
It’s no secret that tattoos still appear taboo to some given their bad rep in the “real world,” but thanks to these pool of Filipina artists and the younger generation’s regard for art, the stigma is slowly fading away. In a typically male-dominated industry, what a time to be alive in an era where women have become the heart and soul of the centuries-old art form. National artist Apo Whang-Od, the oldest living “mambabatok” walked so these women could run and we’re here for it.
From a chemical engineering graduate to a tattooist who’s bringing back precolonial Filipino inking methods, here are 13 female tattoo artists dominating the field.
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Gigie Santiago of the all-female Crimson River Tattoo crew is known for her Kewpie doll illustrations. Her style is reminiscent of pin-up tattoos from the 50s and vintage comic books. When there are lots of bold lines and stipple shading, you know it’s a ✨gigiebear ✨ piece.
MISS BLACK VIMANA
If hyperrealism is your thing, you can very well be the muse of Filipina tattoo artist Miss Black Vimana. She specializes in crisp linework and precise shading. Some of her notable works are inspired by mythology like the biblically accurate Angel piece, huge Greek god arm tattoo and her love for animé. Miss Black Vimana is currently a part of Vimana Tattoo’s collective of artists.
Nat Ancheta is a Filipina tattoo artist that’s big on organic, flora and fauna-inspired designs. Before falling in love with ink, she was a painter with her medium of choice being watercolor and acrylics. Her best works are also inspired by actual paintings like the Nude Standing Before A Mirror tattoo, originally created by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in 1897. ATM, Nat is a part of Thompson Collective: the very first tattoo truck in the Philippines.
Ilona Fiddy is a Toronto-based Filipina artist known for her hand-poked tattoos. As her bio reads, Ilona describes her aesthetic as an “exploration & reclamation of Filipino tattooing traditions” and creates them with good intention. Her designs are unique and reimagines the precolonial traditions of our ancestors.
Kara Gonzales of Crimson River Tattoo has been inking since 2016. Her designs are minimal and mostly organic with some pops of color. Kara also wishes to have a “Santan club,” where she tattoos the flowers on anyone who’s up for it. “I think most Filipino children have ‘santan memories’ so it’s always fun to remember those while inking them, too.” A few years ago, Kara was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety and now. She’s a staunch advocate for mental health and tattooing helped her in the healing process.
If you’re into vintage botanical illustrations, Annie Concepcion of Crimson River Tattoo is the artist for you. Her background in painting allows her to make delicate objects appear larger than life. She’s also collaborated with Tattumundo for a limited edition collection of temporary tattoos in the past and even inked her design on Heart Evangelista.
Wiji Lacsamana, who’s an artist both at Crimson River Tattoo and Tattoo Nebula Art, is known for her depictions of the female form as magical creatures. Aside from inking her designs, Wiji is also an author who writes Reiki stories and even made a deck of oracle cards in collaboration with Chinggay Labrador.
We can’t wrap our heads around the fact that this tattoo made by Drew Cortez was actually done free hand. A full-time tattoo artist and mom at Crimson River Tattoo, Drew is known for her intricate line work. Her illustrations are sweet but can sting you. Aside from tattooing, she also designs clothes when she has the time.
From a chemical engineering graduate to tattoo artist, Kishan of Siningtinta and Crimson River’s style is a love letter to the universe and divine femininity. She shared in a past interview that she got her very first tattoo at 17, then made the decision to transition on the same year and never looked back. At the moment, she also accepts private appointments at a small studio space at the foot of Mt. Makiling in Los Baños where you can also opt for yoga classes.
ELOISE OF SININGTINTA
Eloise is Siningtinta’s “mamma.” Nature is her muse, with her designs beautifully blossoming on her clients’ skin. Eloise’s work ranges from blackworks to tiny tattoos and often collaborates with her fellow female tattoo artists. She’s currently a student and leads Siningtinta’s studio space.
Bianca Duran is a Filipina tattoo artist at Siningtinta. Her style reminds us of the first edition of Alice in Wonderland in 1865, breathing life into what people would see as mundane with her dark ink illustrations. Bianca is also a licensed interior designer, graphic designer and creates tuft rugs.
Minnie Calleja of Good Hand Tattoo has a certain style that reminds us of a sailor’s tattoo. Except this time around, it’s painted in the female gaze. Back in 2020, she designed flash tattoos dedicated to our female farmers in a “pay-what-you-can” event where the proceeds went to the anti-feudal struggle and benefitted our agricultural front liners.
If you love the magical world of Studio Ghibli, then you’ll love the works of Filipina tattoo artist Ally Pokes. Her hand-poked style matches well with the certain allure of other worlds. Some people fear that it’s a lot more painful than the average method of inking, but it’s more controlled than opting for a machine. Ally is currently a part of Prickly Pear Handpoke Studio.
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