What is Tattooed Tramps?

Tattooed Tramps is a community, a movement and a critical piece where I want to shine a light on the perception of women in our society through the lens of tattoos. The project started to take shape as I read multiple comments describing tattooed women as crazy, heavy drinkers, unreliable and so on. I read comments where women were considered less likely to get a partner if they had tattoos … as if that is the only reason women exist. Women are criticized for almost anything they do, makeup, nails, hair … tattoos are just one of many things.

The objectification of women suggests that they only exist to please others. The full identity of women is discarded and value is determined by their body alone.

Tattooed Tramps is on Instagram to create a sense of community, where viewers can submit their stories and experiences as tattooed women. This allows for quick and easy sharing of stories, as well as a platform to promote and advertise upcoming events and goals for the movement.

Click here to visit the instagram

The website serves as the main hub for the project, or an archive of sorts. You can access the written portion of Volume.1 of the Tattooed Tramps publication for free on the website. I would also like to use the website as a space to write specific posts that surround the subject of tattooed women in our society.

The publication is split into two parts, written content on the left and photography on the right. The content features interviews and quotes and opinion pieces relating to the subject. The ideal place to sell the publication would be at Artbook fairs or similar venues.

Click here to read through Volume.1

Future Goals

I can see Tattooed Tramps going into many different directions. One idea is a podcast. Regular photoshoots with different themes. Perhaps documentary-style storytelling. All I know is that I want to continue exploring the possibilities of Tattooed Tramps.

Why Tattooed Tramps?

Tattoos are a hobby of mine, and something I hope to practice in the future and be more involved with. As a woman, I experience objectification or criticism regularly. If not directly then through social media, comments and public discourse. I should wear makeup so I don’t look lazy, but not too much because then I’m a slut. “Your hair is so beautiful and blond don’t dye it blue!” “Tattoos ruin natural beauty”… Women do not exist to be pretty. Women can’t seem to win, no matter what they do they are criticized, and through my project, I hope to bring people to the understanding that women are individuals, allowed to do whatever they please to or with their bodies. A tattoo on your body will not change your value as a person.

I knew I wanted my grad project to be tattoo related. My initial research was looking into the stigma around tattoos, and if there was any stigma. The answer is yes, but I also noticed women were judged more than men for their tattoos. I narrowed my research to women and tattoos and came across some bizarre opinion pieces and incredibly sexist articles. A lot of it suggested that tattoos ruin a woman’s beauty, that they are an eyesore. Tattooed women were also labelled alcoholics, overly sexual and so on. 

I decided to interview some tattooed women about their experiences as well as reflect on my own. I mostly spoke to students at Emily Carr but also interviewed two tattoo artists, Sally (Bebop Ink) and Nikki (Liquid Amber) while in the early stages of my research. The interviews were used to help shape the project, but also as content gathering. With consent from the participants I have shared some of their quotes on instagram. A full interview with Becca Schile, a student at Emily Carr can also be read in Volume.1 of the Tattooed Tramps publication. 

Along with the interviews I wanted some visuals. This came in the form of photography. I scheduled a photoshoot on February 8th, 2020 and advertised it around the school some days prior. The goal was to show tattoos in a different light, and highlight the artistic aspect of tattoos while also celebrating women’s bodies. The response I received was incredible, I received a lot of messages from tattooed women wanting to participate. We only had space for about half of the women that reached out. However, this inspired us to plan future photoshoots with different themes and props. Each model was scheduled for about 20 minutes which turned out to be almost too short. More time with each model would have been better and something I will watch out for in the future. 

The publication was one of the biggest struggles I dealt with throughout the project. The stories I had received from the interview were powerful and deserved to be heard. The photos from the photoshoot also turned out incredible. Trying to puzzle the stories and images together without one overshadowing the other was difficult. My solution was to separate the images and the stories. They are a part of the same volume but the written portion is its own “booklet” on the left and a photograph “booklet” on the right. 

I am thankful for all the connections I made through this project and appreciate the trust of the participants, to share their stories and their tattoos. Tattooed Tramps will continue, with more volumes in the future, Instagram content and conversations. There is a lot of work to be done to break down the objectification of women.


Ólöf (pronounced O-luv) is born and raised in Kópavogur, Iceland and currently located in Vancouver, British Columbia where she will graduate with a Bachelors in Design from Emily Carr University of Art and Design (2020). Her latest design work focuses on social movements and female empowerment. Ólöf wants to continue focusing on societal issues in her career and use those skills to create positive change.