To celebrate the past weekend of tattoos and talented ladies at the Rites of Passage Festival, we want to introduce you to the lady who mainstreamed tattoos in America: Maud Stevens Wagner.
Who was she?
Maud Stevens Wagner was a woman of the circus, born in 1877. Working as a contortionist and aerialist at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904, is where she met her future husband, Gus Wagner, the man who would give her her first tattoo that same year. Maud and her husband focused primarily on tattooing by hand - that is, to tattoo without the use of tattoo machines. Maud and Gus ended up travelling across the country, breaking the way for more mainstream tattoos.
In a time where tattoos on women were extremely rare, and women doing tattoos never heard of, Maud was a woman who was not afraid to stand up for what she believed in and express her creativity, regardless of what others thought.
Maud and Gus shared a daughter together, Lotteva, who also became a tattoo artist herself.
You can learn more about Maud and other fantastic women in Good Night Stories For Rebel Girls