Filipa Vargas is a Portuguese tattoo artist who is also an outspoken feminist. Her original work invokes women’s complex experiences, emotions, and strengths. The hypnotising dot work designs explore themes such as femininity, confusion, pain, rebirth, and love. Very frequently her work also pays homage to the great figures of feminism; both artists, artistic representations of women, while subverting crafts that have been undervalued for years due to their association with women (such as embroidery) to tell another narrative of the female experience.
It was first in high school that Filipa fell in love with art history and started uncovering the beauty of the renaissance or Russian abstractionism. Later on, and not able to plan for the future, she started taking interest in tattoos, first out of curiosity, and then out of passion. Just like in high school, Filipa fell in love again. The rest is history, a lot of work, relationships, changes, and feminism.
The tattoo scene is extremely sexist, as any male-dominated scene. I don’t know if I have the solutions that will completely solve this, but we can always support women who are already in the scene. We can make the scene more open, more inviting for women…and ditch that attitude that the tattoo artist is always a bad boy.
We have to make the client feel comfortable since we’re going to be in close physical contact. There needs to be comfort and safety when you ask someone to take off a piece of clothing and stay still for hours, and not everyone has that sensitivity. Feminism is also this. It’s putting people at ease without forcing it and pushing it, and giving options to those who don’t find it easy to take off their clothes and being vulnerable.
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I discovered feminism through Facebook groups and in the beginning I discarded the idea but the more I read about it the more sense it made. It started echoing in my relationships, particularly in the abusive relationship I was in at the time, and in the things that had been making me uncomfortable for so long.
This is a big part of my feminism, showing people that they don’t have to be in toxic relationships, they don’t have to swallow their emotions, they don’t have to sexually satisfy anyone, and they can have all the body hair they want, that men are not in charge, society is not in charge. We are in charge of ourselves and we won’t settle for crumbs. We want the whole damn cake.