Data + Design Project

Ladies: Think Your New Sparrow Tattoo is Rebellious? Yeah, it was in 1928.

Friday 08.02.2013 , Posted by

Vintage Women with Tattoos 1

Yeah, tattoos are pretty cool, but are they still rebellious? Unless you go full out and get a facial tat, there aren’t many designs that will shock the general public… maybe not even your grandma. That’s because even her generation was inking up, with a few badass women getting tattooed as early as the late 1800s. Seriously, check out Emma de Burgh! She traveled America and Europe showing off her exceptional Last Supper back piece.

See Also A Body of Modern Art: Painterly Tattoos

Many of the women featured here could be from our current era – sporting a few choice embellishments like the ever popular sparrow or a hidden butterfly. These brave and, yes rebellious, ladies chose to permanently decorate their bodies in times when it was seriously taboo – in these cases, between the late 1800s and the mid 60s.

Today we’re looking at far more creative tattoo work that that in the past – from tattoos that look like contemporary art, to those relying heavily on graphics, and some that simply remix imagery from the past – but all of the people sporting ink today owe a debt to the brave people who paved the way by adorning their bodies before everyone else.

Above: A naked lady riding a bird tattoo, 1928
Below: Who could that gentleman be? 1936
Vintage Women with Tattoos 2

A tattooed butterfly garter belt will never fall down when you’re doing the Charleston, 1930s
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Betty Broadbent, 1930s
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Emma de Burgh. The famous tattooed lady and her wicked Last Supper tattoo, 1897
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A horse and jockey tattoo, 1930s
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Pam Nash, a champion tattooed lady with a Japanese garden scene across her back, 1960s
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Maud Wagner, the first well-known female tattoo artist in the United States, 1907
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A classic swallow tattoo, 1965
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SSSSSnake tat, 1928
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Beehive and a new tat, 1964
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Benjamin Starr

Written by Benjamin Starr

Known in some circles as the most amazing man in the universe, he once saved an entire family of muskrats from a sinking, fire engulfed steamboat while recovering from two broken arms relating to a botched no-chute wingsuit landing in North Korea. When not impressing people with his humbling humility, he can be found freelance writing, finding shiny objects on the internet, enjoying the company of much-appreciated friends and living out his nomadic nature. He is Managing Editor of Visual News. Follow his movements on Twitter:

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  1. If the people back in 1928 could see what some of these women are getting for tattoos now, they would lose their minds.

  2. Hey Benjamin.. Great collection

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