Select Your Store

It seems like you’re visiting Playful Promises from [country]. Please select which site to visit:

Interview with Safeword by Sophie

Interview with Safeword by Sophie

Q&A with Safeword by Sophie

We're in love with our new Bettie Page Lingerie Tattoo Print sets! But did you know that a female tattoo artist, Sophie Roach, designed the print?
Sophie is a tattoo artist based in London, who's work has strong themes of eroticism inspired by her career as a model in the fashion and fetish industry. She currently is a resident tattooist at Femme Fatale.
We spoke to her about tattooing and being a female tattoo artist!

What’s your favourite thing or subject to tattoo?


It varies month to month. The themes I never get bored of are women in bondage gear (usually some sort of Japanese rope work like Shibari), tigers and bodies with flower heads. I’m drawn to strong feminine art personally so anything that projects that energy I love. I also love tattooing manga panels, especially art by Ai yazawa. 

Do you think being a female tattoo artist comes with different advantages or disadvantages to male tattooists?


I’d say 7/10 female clients I have exclusively go to other women to get tattooed. It’s opening up an entire new clientele that wouldn’t ever consider getting tattooed otherwise. There’s a lot more variation in skin tones, bodies, and age that come through the doors of Femme Fatale and I can only assume (and I have been told by clients) that’s because the artists are all women or LGBTQ+ - most of us are both. It puts us in a unique position to educate new clients with proper etiquette from both sides which sets a standard in their head what to expect for the rest of their tattoo journey. 
There are still some setbacks that I experience personally, mostly due to the nature of my work. The biggest one is fetishisation. I think a lot of people see my work as a spring board to dump their sexual fantasies and conquests on me or make assumptions about my personal life. It happens with both clients and other artists and I’ve never really understood it - because to me, I think it’s pretty clear that I draw for the female gaze. I don’t draw gratuitous nudity or ever depict any form of pain in my subjects. 

Is the tattoo industry still dominated by men, or is there more diversity? 


It’s definitely more diverse than it was a decade ago. There are still elements of misogyny in pockets of the industry but on the whole tattooing is moving in the right direction and changing for the better. A lot of artists and customers won’t stand for bad practice and social media has massively changed how we navigate these issues. It’s a lot easier to hold artists and shop owners accountable for their actions/ questionable views/ predatory behaviour and make the industry on the whole a safer place so everyone can tattoo/get tattooed and have a good time. I know a lot of people don’t believe in cancel culture - but I do think it’s important to give everyone enough accessible information to make an informed decision before giving up their body autonomy. 
I think there should be more structure in place for literally everything. I know a lot of people will disagree with me but the industry needs to be regulated better. I think nearly every female artist I’ve ever spoken to (apart from a very lucky few) have had either an exploitative or abusive apprenticeship. There needs to be guidelines in place so artists don’t learn in a hostile working environment for starters. 

What should tattoo artists know to make their practice more inclusive? 


I feel like diversifying artists in shops is the most important, as I mentioned before - it opens an entire new customer base and in doing so, makes the industry a more compassionate, open minded place.
A big one for me is to not taking advantage of your clientele. Making anyone sit a session practically naked and taking over sexualised or objectifying photographs of them for a tattoo is not acceptable. 

What tattoos are most popular for your clients right now? 


I feel like I’m in a lucky position because I really only tattoo what I’m interested in personally. Tigers have been really popular because of the lunar new year and because I draw so many of them. With Nana having a resurgence thanks to TikTok I’m also doing a lot of panels from the manga by Ai yazawa so as a huge fan, it’s nice to get to talk about it with my clients. 
Shop the new tattoo collection here and view Safeword by Sophie's work here.