This isn’t a boys’ club anymore |

We stand with Katie Sellergren. The tattoo world is no place for racism, sexism, misogyny…

Boys club

On Thursday 2 January, former tattoo artist Katie Sellergren revealed some truths about the misogyny and racism that still poisons the tattoo world. She outed one of the most famous tattooists in the world for who he really is – something that those within the tattoo world have known for years.

As part of his shop Elm Street Tattoo in Texas, Ink Master star Oliver Peck had organised a charity tattoo event, a female takeover that would raise money for women’s charities. Seeing the hypocrisy in this, Katie chose to speak out about her own story of rape. Katie was sexually assaulted by another prominent tattoo artist and his wife in 2009 – these people are friends of Oliver Peck’s.

Katie then went on to to share a shocking video on her Instagram page, you can watch it here. It shows the Ink Master star calling her a liar and a whore in a room full of white men. That room full of men also included the alleged rapist. The video was originally posted in 2014 on the Instagram profile of stelltattooart (this is The Stells, Richard and Jen, the married couple who Katie has said she was assaulted by). While on their page, we also found a number of disgusting, sexist and racist posts:

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This is not a joke. It is toxic.
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Spot the swastika.

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Katie also revealed that in the past Oliver threatened her. He told her he would ruin her career if she spoke out against Richard Stell. This is absolutely unacceptable. It silences a sexual assault survivor and puts all the power back in the hands of a rapist.

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Next up, tattooer Boneface revealed photos of Oliver Peck wearing blackface. Not once, but on numerous occasions. We were shocked, appalled and sickened. There is absolutely no justification for a white man to put on black face. A day after, Oliver did post an apology. It read: “I was 100% wrong to depict myself this way and I take full responsibility for my immature, misguided perspective, total lapse of judgement and insensitivity. I can only hope that… anyone I have offended can… find it in [their] hearts to accept my sincere apology.” It doesn’t sound too sincere to us, and where’s the apology for calling Katie a whore?

This news makes us both sad and angry, but also emboldened. When we first launched in 2012, we were told that that the tattoo world didn’t need a tattoo magazine for women. That there was no place for us. That we weren’t welcome. And now we see why. There are some male tattooists who have a boys’ club mentality that is very dangerous. They wanted to silence us. They knew they would get called out. When we posted about Katie’s story, here, numerous women got in touch with us about their own experiences of sexual assault, racism and the inappropriate scenes they have witnessed. How they have felt unsafe or unwelcome.

We want to provide a space for survivors’ voices to be heard. To change attitudes and break up the boys’ club so that everyone who wants to get tattooed can, without fear. We want women tattooers not to feel threatened or bullied.

We will be posting much more over the coming weeks and months, watch this space. In the meantime, we stand with you and applaud you Katie.

Email us if you need us, hello@thingsandink

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