Date of Award

Fall 2021

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Cliff Brown

Second Advisor

Rebecca Glauber

Third Advisor

David Finkelhor


Past literature has largely focused on the stigmatization of those with tattoos, but the experiences of tattoo artists themselves have largely been overlooked. It is important to focus on tattoo artists given their critical position as the subjects of stigma and their role in challenging it. Tattoo artists are privy to their own experiences with tattoo stigma, the stigma of working in a deviant occupation, and are frequent observers of the stigma others experience for similar reasons. To explore these topics and how the occupation itself is gendered, thirteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with tattoo artists in New Hampshire. From the interviews it was clear the experience with stigma for workers in deviant occupations can be understood through how their career is delegitimatized as a job, stereotypes that have a strong hold on the entire industry, and the few people within the occupation that perpetuate misunderstandings and a bad reputation. In regards to how the occupation is gendered, for women there is extra labor that must be done in regards to how they think about how their gender is portrayed. With the changing opinions and acceptance of tattoos, and viewing tattoo artists as the artists that they are, there is more to be explored on the subject of how stigma can be changed.