Nine-year old tattoo artist

OK, I’m not sure that the tattooing baby counts, and I can’t remember how young the youngest Leu family member was… but I think that when Steve Bennett tells me that his nine year old daughter is the world’s youngest professional female tattoo artist, I think he may well be right. What do you think? She “works” at Studio 313 (inside The Tattoo Lady) in Hammond, Indiana.

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About Shannon Larratt

Shannon Larratt is the founder of BME (1994) and its former editor and publisher. After a four year hiatus between 2008 and 2012, Shannon is back adding his commentary to ModBlog. It should be noted that any comments in these entries are the opinion of Shannon Larratt and may or may not be shared by LLC or the other staff or members of BME. Entry text Copyright © Shannon Larratt. Reproduced under license by LLC. Pictures may be copyright to their respective owners. You can also find Shannon at Zentastic or on Facebook.

57 thoughts on “Nine-year old tattoo artist

  1. the second to last shot is of a different pair of gloves then the one she’s wearing…
    if she really did it then cool…

  2. She did the hole thing, if you look at that shot there are two sets of hands and one set is swimming in those gloves. She just switched gloves. That is very sweet.

  3. She did all of it. We were at first only going to do the kanji but then decided to add the word “daddy” to the top and sativa to the bottom. Alondg with 9 yrs under her name. The gloves she was wearing for the center piece were 5 1/2 sterile latex which she said were a little too tight. So after taking a short break we switched to my medium safe skin nitriles that i pierce with. For those of you who work in an industry where you have to wear gloves you know that when you wear gloves too small you get hand fatigue. She wanted bigger ones and I do not usually stock anything smaller then mediums but happened to have a few 5 1/2 steriles left over from a week that my girlfriend IAM: flour filled in for me. (Shes got really small hands).

    It was hard for me not to let her tattoo my entire leg. But it bieng the first time she used a tattoo machine though I should let her practice more on grapefruit and other objects before we continue.

    As far as what professional is see number 1 sub paragraph B. number 2 and 3.

    pro·fes·sion·al ( P ) Pronunciation Key (pr-fsh-nl)

    1. a. Of, relating to, engaged in, or suitable for a profession: lawyers, doctors, and other professional people.
    b. Conforming to the standards of a profession: professional behavior.
    2. Engaging in a given activity as a source of livelihood or as a career: a professional writer.
    3. Performed by persons receiving pay: professional football.
    4. Having or showing great skill; expert: a professional repair job

    1. b she is definatly conforming to the standards of a profession. Note she is in a shop not a kitchen like these “hackers” And the fact that she is abiding by Aseptic technique.

    2. She is seeking to make a career out of this. What do you think brought up the idea of her giving me a tattoo in the first place. Shit I am a piercer, my girlfriend a piercer, her mom and uncle, both piercers. If it where my choice she would also be a piercer but it was her choice and her saying that she wanted to be the youngest professional tattooist that inspired this.( I just informed her that she just might be the youngest “female” artist).

    3. I paid her. I do not work for free, so I would not expect her to either.

    Looks like the definition of a profesional to me.

    And there will be about 70 more pics of this being submitted. So keep checking on shannons updates.

    Steve Bennett
    Proud Father

  4. Awesome! I wish more people would let their kids persue their dreams. And to hear that the parents aren’t tattoo artists pushing her in this direction makes it even better.

  5. i think it’s amazing that you are letting her explore at such a young age. that she seems to have the knowledge to choose tattooing rather piercing, says much about you in my eyes. clearly you are raising your child in an open environment and i commend and applaud it. may many others parents do the same, by being open, exposing their kids to what is out there, and having an open dialogue with them.

    but with all that said, she is only 9, so understand and encourage the many changes of what she may want to do with her life. she may just have the opportunity to be a professional in more then one category.

    oh, and just have fun with her! i bet your leg will look amazing, and it will mean the world to you that your daughter did it.

    finally, i think it’s very cool that you are paying her. it develops a sense of what her talent is worth, which will help down the line.


  6. mad respect to you for letting her chase her future, instead of chasing away her future. Steve we need more parents out there that will allow there kids to do there thing, well as long as they are doing it in a productive manor and i see that you are helping that along grrreatly

  7. The more adult things (within reason) parents let their kids try (with guidance), the better. I’m so happy to see parents teaching their kids skills and playing with them in a learning manner that makes them feel good about themselves, rather than just shipping them off to school and ignoring them the rest of the time like 95% of the parents out there.

    Everything I have seen suggests that tattooed and pierced people are often excellent parents, I think in part because many were “weird kids” that often had conflicts with their own parents because of their interests, and maybe vowed not to make the same mistake with their own kids?

  8. I think this is great! And as much as praising talent and intelligence-both of which she appears to have-shes also so pretty! Good job, great parenting. :D What does the kanji mean?

  9. I think the two of you should be very proud! She looks like she feels very accomplished doing it, and it looks pretty damn good!
    I agree with everyone re:the parenting. My parent’s first reaction when I got pierced was “you’ll get aids from a dirty needle” so I think it’s great that you’re really encouraging her to pursue her choices.
    And she’s super cute too! Nicely done!

  10. That’s the coolest thing I’ve seen in a long time, awesome job Sativa! Steve, keep up the good work man. Maybe she can tattoo me someday. and let me know when you’re gonna make a trip to the EC. much love.

  11. this is awesome steve. sativa is lucky to have a father that will help her achieve her dreams. i only wish i was lucky enough to have that sort of support. i give all the best wishes to sativa in her journey to becoming a great tattoo artist.

  12. This is really great. I hope she sticks to this dream but knowing kids she may change her mind a few times. I know I went from wanting to be an artist (8), to paleontologist (10), to archeologist (13), to lawyer (15), to medieval historian (18 and majored in it for a year of college), and back to artist which is what I’m doing now (24). Imagine the story she’ll have for her friends when she’s in highschool and they complain their parents won’t let them get a tattoo.

  13. Well good for you.
    Personally, I would want someone who was already passed the “inking” on grapefruit stage to tattoo me.

    Knowing people in “the business” I can’t think of ANYONE here in Phoenix that would take her on at their shop. For health and safety reasons LET ALONE insurance.

    I am glad that you are a proud papa and are encouraging her, but stop and think. Who would hire a child? Could she get licensed if and when Arizona goes to licensing shops and artists? Where would that leave her? An illegal artist with no where to ink.

  14. Catspit, she tattooed her father. She’s not even legally old enough to go out and apply for a job, and isn’t trying to find work. Lighten up and let a parent help their child explore their interests and develop new skills.

  15. YAY SATIVA!! :) I wish I could’ve been there for this… she’s the coolest kid I know. Those pics are awesome… I wanna see more.
    Steve – I miss ya… the tattoo looks awesome!


  16. Catspit! Think before you speak. You just sound stupid. What was the point you are trying to make? You say nobody will help her when the time comes that she is ready to work in a shop? Look at the statistics on this page, you are one voice out of many that has something negative to say here. The odds are in her favor that people will help her, also I believe her father is an owner of a shop. She will never be an outta work artist as long as she is good. Remember all the greats at everything started at a very young age, so agaion the odds are in her favor.

  17. I think the idea and the act itself is very sweet… but I really like that her name is Sativa, THAT is awesome.

  18. I always hear about how black tattoos can be hard to do (like tribal or kanji) for a beginner because it is easy to not get the ink in evenly or you can overwork it. It’s awesome she did such a great job with it! I’ve seen tattoos done by people twice her age who did not turn out half as good. Can’t wait to see more of her work in the future.

  19. that’s awesome that you’re letting her do that! I would be so excited if i were your kid!
    You’re an awesome dad :)

  20. Love the tattoo, love her name, but I really love that you paid her. She’s going to be a fantastic artist :)

    As for the “becoming a mod artist when you’re young” thing, my piercer started her official apprenticeship with her mom when she was 16. She’s now trained as a scarification & branding artist at 20. Last I knew, she was planning to work for a couple more years and then do her tattoo apprenticeship as well. Nothing wrong with starting young :)

  21. Wow, that’s freaking awesome! You go girl!
    I think that’s great to encourage his daughter, and let her experience it so young. I have always planned to teach my children at a young age, I bet you’re so proud of your daughter! That looks sooo good! Yay Sativa! (yes, that’s a beautiful name).

    That’s just amazing.

    xoxo. AXU.

  22. Thank you everyone who has left such posative comments. It has ment alot to Sativa and I. Sativa has really had a large confidence boost that is showing in the way she conducts herself as a result of everyone telling her how amazing she is. I would also like to thank everyone for saying how good of a father I am. This means more to me than I can put into words.

    AS far as the tattoo goes it is almost healed and I will be putting the healed pics up as soon as the rest of the scabbing is done. So far it is looking great and putting the one above it to shame. It is the first tattoo I ever did. (i am not a tattoo artist, just wanted to do one myself).

    She has a very bright future ahead of her and a great story to tell now that she is back in school. When the teacher ask her what she did for summer break she is blowing away the rest of her 4th grade class with her story. Shit I be the whole shcool.

    This is just an Idea but:
    Next lined up for her is we are going to get her ordained so she can marry a really close couple to the family. It is going to be a suspension wedding. I wonder if the COBM will ordain a nine year old? If not the church of universal life will. What an amazing childhood she is going to have. I wish I could have had this childhood. It does make me proud though that I have been fufilling my promise to give her a much better childhood than I had.

    Steve Bennett very proud father.

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  24. If she’s got the talent for it and enjoys doing that then by all means let her learn and gain experience from it! I see no problem with children being interested in what their parents do or have a similar interest in. If what she wants to make out of her life will make her happy, then she should persue what she wants to do. Besides her tattooing you and gaining experience, you’ll always have something of her to remember by.

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  26. Wow! that is so cool…..i hope you grow up to be a really good artist…i envy you!!

  27. What a way to gain experience! She did very well and I wish you both the best of luck in your journey.

  28. Is she any good? Does she have a permanent tattoo on here own body or plan on having one in the next few years?

  29. somehow, it just doesnt seem right. Its like this, yes in many of fields many a greats start at a very young age. but in this, i find many problems with this. Ok example, Does a family doctor bring in his or her child to examine patients maybe a dentist will bring in their grandson or daughter to pull a wisdom tooth? no they do not. There is so much more from a technical standpoint as well as from a health and enviromental training that is needed. just my opinion, but i think its a bad situation leading up to a disaster for if not the next person, but someone will bewearing a less than compitent tattoo in the very near future.

  30. 41. you give the example of a child being allowed to work on OTHER people, outside the family. Irrelevant in this case as it is ONLY the father being affected by this, there is no third party.

    A better example would be letting the child of a doctor diagnose the parent who might have a cold or whatever it is, or to examine the parent’s mouth.

    A child isn’t capable of pulling a tooth, their hands wouldn’t be strong enough. They can, however, trace and colour inside lines.

    If there was a third party, then yes, it could quite possibly be the wrong thing to do.

    I think of it more like a child learning to sew with her mother on the sewing machine, or helping tighten screws on an engine. A sewing machine is infinitely more dangerous to small hands than a tattoo machine.

  31. I am sorry but allowing a 9 year old to do my tattoos no thank you! I have a perfesional thank you. lol.

  32. I live in Lansing and go to this shop all the time–seeing this makes me want to stop by :]

  33. If she can tattoo at nine, wouldn’t she be the next KAT VON D, soon? I mean like the beautiful women from Miami ink?

  34. Steve is a nice guy and his daughter is a sweetheart, but to set the record straight, she is not a professional tattoo artist. She did one and only one tattoo, on her father, while visiting him, she lives on the west coast, we are in the midwest. I would never allow a child to tattoo on customers in my studio. I am the owner of The Tattoo Lady, where Steve Bennett use to pierce from as Studio 313

  35. Sativa? is that a mary jane name? great for her if she did do it, but the switch in glove thing AND the hands look alot bigger in purple(which is strange?)creates a small doubt.but im in no way saying that its not true.


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  38. The earlier she gets started the better she’ll be, and earlier she can start making money at it! ;)

    that’s pretty awesome.
    If I were a tattoo artist, I would get my 9 year old to tattoo something one! why not!? It’d have meaning!

  39. that’s cool, you’re letting her do what makes her happy instead of detouring her toward med school or some shit. there’s more to life than money.

  40. It is so wonderful to see a father letting his daughter do what she truly wants to do. What a great job you are doing of supporting her! The world needs more fathers like you. More power to both of you.

  41. Our daughter Zia age 7 is starting to tattoo also … she has done 2 so far (one on mom one on dad) we own a tattoo shop in Missouri and daddy tattoos … she has won art awards when she was in public school and is SUPER creative and artistic … she is all about learning and of course making money! We are suprised to see others out there like is and it’s way cool… seeing the video of Lilly today from Suffer City gave her even more confidence… it’s way cool!


  42. I think it’s cool. I think she is too young to be doing it on a person yet…but if its family and they are ok who is to say her dad is wrong. We certainly have no right to declare it. my son is a 15 year year old high school senior. He is traveling to china next summer as a student ambassador. There are those that say he is too young, he is not mature enough, oh my gawd its too dangerous. he wants to do this who am i to deny the opportunity. This girl wants this in hger life now. her dad is right to encourage gher dreams. being nine she may change them someday but the experience and the support and the encouragement will last a lifetime. shame on the naysayers and applause to those who understand.

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