The tattoo world is already a notoriously competitive field, but also one dominated by white, cis-gender men. As a non-binary femme based in the midwest, Metz-Caporusso’s success is a sign that perhaps times are changing for the better and that the next generation of artists intends to be more inclusive than their predecessors.
“Tattooing is mainly taught through apprenticeships, it’s difficult to break into,” she explained to In The Know. “I think typically people will choose other folks who are most like them … I’ve heard many reasons from ‘the field is too saturated with artists’ to ‘your art just isn’t what tattoos look like’ — but ultimately that’s just plain untrue. There will always be room for anyone who wants to tattoo.”
It was when Metz-Caporusso met her partner, Tony, at a party in 2011 that she finally had the opportunity to become an apprentice. Together, the two now work at Lucky Monkey Tattoo Parlor in Ann Arbor, Mich.
“It was an apprenticeship and a romance all rolled into one,” she said.
Since then, tattooing has always been extremely personal for Metz-Caporusso. She’s expanded her portfolio and boasts over 15,000 followers on Instagram. But her plan was never to stop challenging societal norms once she became a professional tattoo artist.
On Oct. 23, 2020, Metz-Caporusso posted the first photo of her now-iconic “flower rolls” concept design, in which she incorporated the natural folds of a body in with the design of a floral tattoo.
“I want these concept designs to challenge how we view fat folks [and] how we view ourselves,” she captioned the Instagram. “Fatness is not a failure.”
Metz-Caporusso told In The Know that her “roll flowers” were a “deliberate response” to the lack of visibility for fat people with tattoos, which she noticed were not frequently shared on tattoo pages or in magazines.
“There were absolutely no designs that catered specifically to fat folks, and as a fat person, I decided to take it upon myself to change that,” she said.
She also explained to Michigan Radio in an interview that the idea came from her “literally [sitting] myself down and [looking] at fat bodies, my own included, and [thinking], what can I do to highlight these rolls?”
Metz-Caporusso’s personal touch in her tattooing comes through in these designs as well: Every roll flower is tailored specifically for the individual’s body.
Since sharing her tattoos on Instagram, Metz-Caporusso’s account has been flooded with support, awe and potential future clients.
“I have had an overwhelming amount of love in response to this project,” she said. “It feels amazing to bring joy to folks with my art. It’s the whole reason I’m an artist in the first place.”
“I’ve wanted a back tattoo for so long but never knew how to ‘work with the rolls,'” a person commented on Metz-Caporusso’s Instagram. “This is AMAZING.”
“These feel revolutionary,” another added.
While flattered by all the love, Metz-Caporusso’s hope is that soon, tattoos like her roll flowers won’t feel so “revolutionary.”
“My hope for the future of tattoo designs is to celebrate the diversity of bodies and not try to hide our differences but highlight them,” she said. “I’m excited to keep pushing the envelope.”
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