Guests at this years Other Art Fair in London's artsy Bloomsbury Square had the opportunity to come away with more than just a wall hanging, the unique exhibitors included virtual reality designers, DJ's, printers – even LED light co-ordinators. To be an unusual stand at this event truly means producing pieces that are off-the-wall, or on the body if you're Bluestone Babe.
Rosa Perr, AKA Bluestone babe, has curated an impressive following on instagram for her feminine stick-and-poke designs and was selected to be among the 51 per cent female art crowd selling their pieces at the three day show.
Perr's designs range from small animals with halos to powerful messages of female rebellion – vaginas in the shape of the Virgin Mary, naked images of pregnant women as the Buddha and even slogans such as 'Girl Power'. The New York-based artist works from a studio, not a large parlour, marketing herself on social media and working independently with clients to think up her pieces.
We caught up with Bluestone Babe at The Other Art Fair to talk more:
What is it like being a tattoo artist in the ‘instagram era’?
I’m very grateful for it, as an Independent tattoo artist who doesn’t work in parlour and works out of a private studio, I don’t know if i’d be able to die doing this as my full-time job if it wasn’t for instagram which is so awesome.
Why did you choose more delicate designs?
It was actually my own personal preference, there’s so many huge tattoos that are beautiful… I wouldn't want to say they were in anyway bad, they are artistic and amazing. But personally I just prefer huge tattoos on my body, I like small pieces that compliment a body part rather than completely take it over, I think of them way more as permanent jewellery.
You’ve been labelled as a feminist tattoo artist – how do you feel about that label?
I totally identify as a feminist tattoo artist, I’m a feminist and a tattoo artist… the two inevitably go hand in hand. I think that the tattoo industry is a male dominated industry - as much industries are of course - so I think feminism was always going to be a huge part of my craft, and what defines my work. There’s tonnes of amazing female tattoo artists out there of course, I’m certainly by no means the first, i’m proud to be among some amazing talent in this industry.
What do you think female tattoo artists offer that male artists don't?
A tattoo is such an intimate experience and because I work out of a private studio, and because I really value my clients feeling really comfortable at all times, and I think thats where the femininity comes into my work - that maternal instinct kicks in, you want the client to have a really good experience, you want them to able to speak up if they have any problems, or they aren’t happy with what you’re doing. I’ll ask them a million times if they want to move the tattoo to a different place, or they want it smaller or bigger - I make sure they tell me that they love it. So many women come into [my studio] saying ‘I felt so pressured during my last tattoo to get it bigger’ or ‘I didn’t feel comfortable saying I wanted it in a different place’ or ‘I wanted the lines a little thinner’.
I also have a lot of designs that are about female empowerment, I think often society tells women all the reasons that we’re not good enough and to compare ourselves to other people, so I think through my work I hope I can make some women feel better and more empowered and better in their own skin
Do you think feminists are really starting to reclaim to the tattoo at the moment?
I mean yeah, a tattoo is traditionally this sign of masculine power right? I think there’s totally a movement happening. I get a lot of first-time clients who say that they never thought that my designs are so small and delicate that they feel that a tattoo can be a feminine thing. For women especially tattoos can be a way of reclaiming our bodies, a lot of women I know who have been victims of sexual assault or vasectomies will get a tattoo to help the healing process…which is really beautiful.
What has been your experience as far as sexism in the tattoo industry?
Not as a tattoo artist myself. I’ve had amazing clients, 90 per cent of my clients are women but the 10 per cent of men who come get tattoos from me are nothing but amazing, kind, caring. But as a tattoo client I have been in parlours and felt sexism for sure. There was a tattoo parlour that I went into and I wanted a piece before I was an artist, and they made me feel like I wasn’t the kind of person who should be getting a tattoo, and that It was this big group of huge guys who made me feel like the small tattoo that I wanted was silly. When I wanted to change something they wouldn’t let me and I don’t know if I would identify that as sexism necessarily but the whole experience was really uncomfortable.
Do you think tattoo art is relevant to the #metoo era?
I think with my tattoos, I’ve had way more clients wanting some of my stuff that has feminist or empowering messages. I think since the US election too things have changed - but I wouldn’t say its increased over the design tattoos either, people are still really wanting to get aesthetic beautiful tattoos - because they too are a way of empowerment and reclaiming your body.
So this is your first time in the UK at The Other Art Fair – have you had British fans reach out to you?
I’m very excited, its really cool to be here. I’m from New York City so its been fun just walking around and getting to know the vibe of the place a little bit. I’ve gotten a lot of messages on Instagram and emails from people who are like - “please I wanna get a tattoo while you’re here”, and even before that so many people were saying “oh please come to the UK, that’s what is so great about social media is you get that outreach.
For more information on Bluestone Babe and the Other Art Fair head to: www.theotherartfair.com
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