Tattoos have so far mainly been a field dominated by men but as the 21st century progresses, so do female tattoo artists. Visiting international tattoo conventions, it’s clear that most of the elite still consist of males but year after year, talented women emerge. This is not a competition between the genders – it’s just great to see change and diversity in the field, and more choices for the clients. It’s the same in Estonia: as a rookie 6-7 years ago, I wasn’t aware of many female artists. Might have been lack of communication, might have been lack of social media presence, or the current ones might not have started their work yet. Maybe everyone hid themselves in bunkers like appropriate for proper introvert creatives. But nowadays I’m happy to see more and more woman-tattooers marketing themselves through social media and new faces emerging.
I have decided to make a post about four of my favourite Estonian female artists to show the reader how many different, amazing styles Estonian women have, as well as show off the small nuances of feminine aspects and elements. This is not in order of best to worst: they’re all my favourite, each with a unique personality and stylistics.
Maila Veske. IG: maila.lifeart
Maila has been tattooing for 6 years and only got on my radar about a year ago. I was so surprised, why had I not seen her work before? It’s fantastic! She works in Narva and is one of the only Estonian artists whose watercolour works I follow closely. I love her use of bright colour choices and large elements in her designs. It’s also amazing how she mixes the abstract with realism. At Street Mirror Expo in 2018, I got to meet her and watch a whole thigh piece being completed on the spot. The tempo is surreal and doesn’t alter the great quality. And her personality is adorable!
Karmely Sõrmus IG: psyhiskond
It might not seem entirely fair to choose an artist who I used to work in the same salon with, but I digress: Karmely’s style is recognisable from afar. Her story is made special by the fact that the first time she wrote to Mamas Pride, I didn’t think much of her art. Her portfolio was bland and one-sided. Half a year later, some girl with amazingly promising artwork contacted Kaili and got a place as an apprentice. Only months later did I realise it was the same person! Karmely properly outdid herself and put together a portfolio that kills. Now, 4 years later, she’s improving at a constant and fantastic tempo.
Kätlin Malm IG: katlinmalm_tattoo
Everyone that knows me is aware that I’m not generally into lifelike tattoos, but Kätlin Malm is on another level: her understanding of composition and placement of a great tattoo simply leaves me in awe. It seems that she and her husband Torsten Malm have built a proper dream salon where they consistently inspire each other. Both travel a lot within their field of work – they are frequent guest artists abroad and take part in conventions. Kätlin Malm’s latest award was 1st place for realism at Venice Tattoo Convention: she’ll be making waves in the future!
Mooni Treier IG: moonitreier
Perhaps you’ve noticed that I am in the process of getting my entire back tattooed by her so it probably makes sense for her to make the list. It’s ironic that I only “met” her when I was scrolling through the 2018 Street Mirror Expo photos on Delfi and found her back piece that took part. I fell in love and got in contact to visit: lil stupid me, thinking that everyone lived in Tallinn, got on a train to Tartu. Then I found out she had been tattooing for 10 years! There was no doubt – she was the one for my back project. The majority of artists in Estonia are focused on blackwork but only a few have experience with larger pieces. It was for that reason that I turned to Mooni. Her personality is sweet but confident and it’s always a blast to visit.
These are my personal favourites and the fact that I chose to write about them doesn’t mean that others are any worse. I’m a fan of larger tattoos and a prominent style.
In the future I will definitely write more similar posts (favourite new faces, male artists, internationals etc.) Do you have a specific group/type of tattoo artist that you’d like to see a list of?