Meet Maud Wagner: The Incredible Woman Whose Journey Made Tattoos An Art Form

Date January 25, 2019 15:03

In 2002, the word ‘tattoo’ became the number one search item on the internet, a fact that proclaimed a new age for body art in the world. However, did you know that the history of tattoos goes back over 6000 years ago?

Well, after they became mainstream, tattoos became a pop culture reality as people of all ages and genders jumped on board to make a statement, look beautiful or simply, be considered ‘cool'.

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The first U.S. female tattooist: Maud Wagner

While most people love tattoos, very few know the amazing story of America’s first female tattooist, Maud Wagner, the woman who literally made tattoos an art form.


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Maud Wagner, who was born Maud Stevens was an arts performer from Kansas who toured with the carnival as a competent aerialist, acrobat, and contortionist. Well, while she made a modest livelihood as a performer, her luck would soon change when she met Gus Wagner, “The Tattooed Globetrotter.”


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In an incredible story that would later come to define her legacy, it is said that Wagner taught Stevens his incredible tattooing skills including the hand-poked method of modification that required attention to detail.


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Gradually, their close partnership led to the decoration of Stevens’ body in blackwork designs that were full of monkeys, lions, butterflies, and even had her own name on her left arm; designs that added even more spectacle to her performances.

With time, the tattoo lovers got married as they became a powerhouse for hand-made tattoos in an age where tattoo machines were all-the-rave among their contemporaries. Maud Wagner went ahead to tattoo her fellow circus performers and even took her own clients to make herself the first known female tattooist in the United States.

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Maud Wagner left a great legacy behind

While she passed away in 1961, Maud left behind a rich legacy as the forerunner of women in the tattoo industry and her daughter Lovetta carried on the mantle to become a renowned artist herself.

To most people, her legendary work is still praised and most feel that without her, tattoos might never have become as popular as they are today.

Even more so, tattoo lovers still marvel at the magnificent designs on her body which way ahead of her time.

Her influence is so rich that even a single search on the history of women in tattoos brings up her name alongside the majestic words, the ‘first known female tattoo artist’.

Truly, Wagner’s legacy is unequaled and her influence is bound to continue impacting the lives of millions all over the world.

After reading her story, what do you think of her achievements? Is her body transformation appealing?

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