Maud Wagner


Whether you are a tattoo lover or not, you can’t deny these art form marvel even the most creative mind. If you are a tattooed female, then you should be thanking Maud Wagner.


No one ever looks at tattoos as a feminist movement from the Victorian era, but artistically, they are a movement that gave women the courage to express their love for the arts by getting inked.


Maud Wagner, considered the first female American tattoo artist, gave women the confidence that having tattoos are not a “man thing” only and women can get inked, and still looks beautiful or more beautiful rocking it. Looking back, guess her guts and profession, as a well-traveled circus act, was part of it.


Maud eventually left the circus and worked as a traveling tattoo artist along side her husband, who was her mentor, and their daughter who also went on to become a tattoo artist. Despite the invention of the rotary tattoo machine, they continued with hand poke tattoos.


Long before Maud Wagner, women were tattooing their bodies; perhaps they didn’t call it a tattoo. But in North America, in the early 20th century, full, bold works on women were not a common thing. But Maud’s was full of personality, and told a story.


Maude lived a long life, 84 years, and the thought of things she’d seen and experienced in her travels and trail blazes. She also watched her profession change and evolve from techniques, to styles, tattoo materials and aftercare. And her legacy lived on in her daughter another 2 decades after Maud’s passing which witnessed even more changes to this industry.

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