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Conversations with Lauren McMinn

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren McMinn.

Alright, thank you for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us how you got started?
I’ve been getting tattooed since I was eighteen, and I’ve been drawing and making art my entire life. Being a tattooer always appealed to me, but the shop environment and general tattoo scene of older generations were not something I saw as safe for me. One day I went to get a tattoo by a friend who was tattooing out of their home, and I was introduced to the queer DIY tattoo scene, which is committed to creating a newer and safer space for anyone to learn this trade. I then started teaching myself how to tattoo and eventually opened Who Knows. I want this studio to be a beacon for everyone who has felt nervous about walking into a shop. I want to continue to be an example of how anyone can tattoo – you don’t need an apprenticeship. I wouldn’t be here without the trust of my friends and clients, who have been a constant source of support and encouragement. I’m excited about the future of tattooing as a consent-focused space where anyone can decide to transform and reclaim their body.

Can you talk to us about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
There will always be people who say that tattooing is not a trade. You can “pick up” and do. Sadly, the tattoo industry has harbored a culture of gatekeeping and oppression for a long time. It hasn’t been an easy road, and I’m sure many established tattooers look down on those who haven’t gotten an apprenticeship. I never envisioned that this was what I would be doing right out of college – I even changed my major at one point partially because I didn’t believe I could ever make it professionally as an artist. I’m so thankful that my clients trust me to facilitate such a magical and transformative practice, and I couldn’t see myself as happy and fulfilled doing anything else with my life.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I mainly specialize in blackwork with the occasional color piece. I feel like I’m still discovering what my style of tattooing is, but the great thing about tattooing is that your style is something that can always change over time. I’m interested in the growing movement of ignorant style tattooing, constantly pushing the boundaries of what has been the ‘norm’ for tattoo styles. In the past few years, people worldwide have been expanding what tattoos mean and what they can be, and the industry has grown with this continued movement. I’m humbled to be a business owner because I watched my mother work hard to start her own business, and she continues to be an example of a strong and successful woman in my life. I’m inspired by many people in this industry who accomplished so much in the face of older traditional tattooers who told them they would never make it this far.

What matters most to you?
What matters most is that my clients feel safe, respected, and in control of the process while getting a tattoo. A tattooer’s responsibility is to facilitate a safe environment and dialogue that invites their client to feel confident and comfortable enough to advocate for their needs, as the tattoo industry hasn’t always been a safe place for everyone to do so. I want my practice to invite conversations regarding these things so that I can continue to learn and grow. My shop mates and the relationships I’ve cultivated with them are also deeply important. I’ve undergone a fair amount of hardships since opening this business, and I truly would not be here today without the support and encouragement of my friends and coworkers – Frank, Gus, Karah, and Oli.

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Image Credits
James Shipma

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