Fierce and rebellious, Maud Wagner was the very first female tattoo artist in the early 20th century. In the early 1900s, she first made a living as an acrobat, aerialist and contortionist at the St. Louis World’s Fair.
While working at the fair, she met Gus Wagner, who was known as the “Tattooed Globetrotter” and is a renowned tattoo artist who was the last to only work by hand, rather than use a machine. He was the one who’s responsible for teaching her (then known as Maud Stevens) the now-trendy stick and poke method, which involves just a needle and a little ink. At the time, simple, streamlined designs were all the rage, so Wagner and Stevens’ craft was ideal.
She wore patriotic tattoos, tattoos of monkeys, butterflies, lions, horses, snakes, trees, women, and had her own name tattooed on her left arm. Because she was extensively tattooed by her husband, she also worked as a tattooed attraction garnering considerable fame for herself. Defying stereotypical gender standards, not to mention beauty ideals, Wagner is forever the ultimate rebel heart.