If you’ve ever had the incredible desire to have Linda Belcher, Sister Mary Clarence, and/or Fran Fine drawn on your body in a way that is permanent, first of all: a million high-fives, but also: you really oughta be looking in the direction of Sydney tattooist and powerful babe Lauren Winzer.
Aside from having the ability to create some absolutely darling body decor, Lauren is really someone who is changing the tattoo scene — from parlour to punter — pushing for greater acceptance not only from the perspective of tattooed folk who feel shunned by rigid society, but from the perspective of customers who commonly feel intimidated in a traditional boy’s club tattoo shop. Basically — she’s sticking to her guns, pushing forward, and inviting you along for the ride.
We spent some time with her to suss the new direction of the industry, youthful freedoms, and her artistic and personal style thanks to Nike’s new Sport Pack Collection.
How does it feel to tattoo someone? What’s going through your head?
Such a good question! First, I’m planning the order I’m going to do every line and colour of the tattoo in, then I’m getting to know my client and making sure they’re comfortable. It’s pretty surreal to be honest… sometimes I find myself thinking, “Holy shit, this is going to be with you forever.” I get a lot of first timers so I’m always flattered that they’ve waited and chosen me. I get nervous every single time I tattoo someone, especially if it’s my first time meeting them, because there’s no room for error.
What styles of art/imagery do you most like to do?
I love doing animation, pop culture references and pets the most because they bring so much happiness to people. I also love recreating fine artworks — it’s such a challenge and a bit of an insight into how even the most simple looking artwork takes so much time and effort!
Is there anything you won’t do?
Anything offensive. I don’t want to spread that anywhere.
I don’t know heaps about the tattooing scene, but I’ve seen loads of women rising up in this industry lately – is this a new thing?
Definitely in the last 2-3 years, more females are coming forward with their own style. I think tattooing is now open to so many more styles… it’s made it possible for not only customers to get a wider range of tattoos but also the tattooist being able to offer up more, too.
What do you think female tattooists can provide to a customer?
A different perspective! We can take an image and interpret it differently, or just use our own experiences to come up with new designs or ways of expressing them and executing them.
I know loads of women are kind of worried about a big dude tattooing them — is this part of the reason you opened your own studio, to provide a space where people felt safe and not intimidated?
I think that’s still something that can be intimidating, but to be honest, I work with some big looking dudes and they are just as sweet and welcoming as anyone. It’s not only me making a certain demographic comfortable. I also try to lead by example so everyone I work with – male, female, big or small – will give you the same comfort and experience. Everyone should be able to come in and not be told their idea is ‘dumb’.
You’re definitely a leader in pushing boundaries and limits within your industry — do you see yourself as a leader?
I definitely see myself as pushing boundaries and doing things in ways that aren’t traditionally seen as the right way to do it. But even though I was doing what I wanted, I knew I was going to cop it. My main thing, in every aspect, is just to show people that you should do what’s honest to you, even if it’s not the norm or accepted at the time. It can be hard, but now the imagery I was ridiculed for is the normal!
Do you feel like there are still boundaries for you in the industry or is that a thing of the past?
I don’t see any boundaries personally anymore. And even when I did find them artistically, if I didn’t believe in them I’d just ignore them or figure out a way around them using traditional tattooing techniques.
And what kind of goals do you have for yourself at the moment?
I really want to push my own personal art. I have so many painting ideas in my head and I’m just trying to learn how I can execute them bit by bit, so I can show people what I’m keeping inside my brain!
Which parts of your city’s scene would you change? And are you doing stuff to urge these changes?
Discrimination towards people with ‘different’ appearances. I think we should be treated equally unless we have done something to suggest otherwise. People don’t realise it’s actually really expensive to get tattoos [laughs]. If I get the opportunity, I try to educate people in the nicest way I can. I have written a couple of emails here and there trying to explain how bad it can make an individual feel.
How would you describe your style – as in the way you dress. Is it reflective of your artistic output?
Depends on the day [laughs]. It definitely is — I collect clothes from all eras, vintage and new. I’m big on accessories and coordinating things — I didn’t even realise I did it so much until people started pointing it out. Dressing for me is fun and I like expressing myself and showing people a part of my personality through what I wear.
The Nike Sport Pack Collection is built for women who push their cities, but it looks cool worked into everyday wear – how does it fit within your wardrobe? Which pieces are your favourites?
I love it all so much because it’s functional, practical and looks sick! For me, with work and doing outdoor activities, I love that it’s easy to move in and stylish. I hate wearing boring clothes because they make me feel boring — so all the tights with the big prints and bombers are my go to fav’s. I also love the camo print dress, it’s probably my fav of all because even thought it’s long, it’s still really casual and so comfortable!
I read that you grew up near the Royal National Park and had a childhood of jumping into watering holes in the bush. Me too! How do you think this humble free-spiritedness shaped you as an adult?
Yes! I am so grateful I grew up out of the city, it has made me just go with the flow so naturally. I don’t get stressed over little things and it definitely just made me ballsy from a young age. I was growing up doing all sorts of crazy things and not thinking twice about it. I find that my friend group is such a community too, and I think that’s something that has always been big with growing up somewhere like that, you know?
Totally. Are you still tearing around on bikes and hiking through the bush?
Sure am! My husband, my friends and I are always trying to see new nature — taking hikes and going camping. It’s so good for you! Getting off the grid and into nature instantly makes you so happy. It’s such a good way to relax when you’re busy keeping up in the city.
Tattooing takes a lot of concentration and energy — what do you do to make sure you can focus and stay clear?
Make time for myself to be alone. I love doing yoga and clearing my mind with that, and I’m really into having long baths. I take a movie in there and shut the door and just zone out. It’s the best — highly recommend!
How important is it to you and your confidence to leave the screen and go IRL?
So important! If I don’t go and be social I start finding it more awkward. I’m conversational and comfortable at work, but once I’m out of the shop I’m actually so shy. So, if I don’t make the effort to go out and meet my friends or try new things, I just find it harder and harder. Plus, I don’t have anything to talk about if I’m not having any experiences. And I don’t want to talk about people on the internet!
If you had to get rid of all your tattoos and keep just one, which would it be and why?
Oh my god, another great question. I think it would be the one that my mum did. It looks a bit crap (sorry mum!) but having her do that for me showed me that she accepted my job and everything about me, which made me feel really proud.
And what’s the best tattoo you’ve ever done? Your best achievement as an artist?
I think technically it was a pop art one I did today, but then again it changes every few days, which is good because it shows that I’m still growing. My best achievement as an artist so far is one of the first paintings I ever did — I did a Walton Ford repaint, and just learned as I went and actually finished it (even though I thought it looked like shit pretty much the whole way through). I was just proud that I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and learned something new. Now I just need to keep doing that.
Photography: Daniel Goode
Fashion: Sarah Starkey @ The Artist Group
Make-up: Gillian Campbell @ The Artist Group
Hair: Sacha Lorge
Photo assistant: Nick Ryall
Fashion assistant: Harriet Crawford
Production: Oyster in Partnership with Nike