Women In Tattooing Spotlight – Sjeli

John Dietrich

Sjeli Dale: Artist at Lucky Dog Tattoo

Toronto, Ontario is home to many talented female tattoo artists. Located just north of Kensington Market, you’ll find Lucky Dog Tattoo, where Sjeli Dale works. Sjeli has only been a tattoo artist for 3 years, but she has plenty of experience in the arts. Before she started tattooing, she was training at OCAD University.

She enjoys designing custom tattoos, especially anything floral or nature-related. She loves all kinds of styles – black and grey, color, 3D designs – as long as the design makes her clients happy.

When she’s not using her passion on tattooing, she’s spending time as a fur mama to two cats and a bunny. We wanted to know what Sjeli’s experience has been like as a woman in the tattoo industry.

Q: As woman in the tattoo industry, have you found that you, or any of your female clients, have been ‘slut-shamed’ or received negatively because of the fact that they are a woman with a tattoo?

I wouldn’t say that I have been “slut-shamed” per se, but I have definitely received some negative attention as a result of having tattoos. An example is being in the dating world: when you’re first starting to know a guy, and he knows you have tattoos or that you’re a tattoo artist, the question always comes up fairly early on, ‘how many tattoos do you have?’, ‘When you gonna show me all your tattoos?’ And it was kind of asking in a sexually driven, ‘coming on too strong’ kind of way.

Q: Do you think that there is a general stigma around women having tattoos in the modern day world?

I don’t know if there’s a stigma around women having tattoos so much anymore. It’s definitely progressed a lot in the last 5-10 years, and will continue to progress hopefully. In a city like Toronto, where there are a lot of people who are tattooed, and there is a large tattoo culture, I think it’s fairly common for women to be tattooed, and I don’t think that many people who are used to this city even think twice about tattoos or who’s wearing them. This in not the case in small towns; it’s not as common for anyone to be tattooed, and the people that are are mostly men. So I feel that there probably is more stigma in smaller towns about women who are tattooed. I’m from Northern Ontario, and, when I visit home, I get stared at quite a bit, and I wouldn’t consider myself to be heavily tattooed.

Q: What has your experience been in becoming successful in a what has traditionally been a male-dominated field?

Although stigma around women tattooing and being tattooed is not as great as it used to be, this industry is still dominated by males. Every shop that I’ve worked in has been owned and operated by a male. As far as clients go, every now and then I’ll get a client who is unsure about whether I can do the tattoo because I’m a woman, although it’s never become a problem after they see some of my work.

Another thing worth mentioning is the placement of tattoos. Some places on the body are impossible to work on without being in a very close and awkward position with the client. Sometimes hands brush up against our bodies; it’s part of the job. But, sometimes the client will say something awkward or sexual about it, and that’s super uncomfortable.

Sjeli may not have decades of tattooing experience, but that doesn’t take away from her incredible talent and passion for the art. Check out more of her work on her Instagram, @heartandsjel_ink.

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Check out some of Sjeli’s Awesome Work

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