The tattoo industry has always had its struggles for newcomers and apprentices. In the early nineties it was an even more difficult challenge for female artists to make a break into tattooing, as many male artists refused to apprentice women. Suzen Fukken Tattoozen, aka SFT, began her apprenticeship in the troublesome days of early 1991. Since that time, she has been one of the pioneering forces making strides for women to have a place in the industry and to feel empowered both as an artist and as a client. Suzen has worked tirelessly to create an environment not only where women can feel comfortable being tattooed without harassment, but also where women are able to work as tattoo artists without bullying and ridicule from fellow artists.
Suzen has always viewed the art form of tattooing as a source for personal strength and personal transformation. Starting her apprenticeship in Detroit, she honed her craft through a rough period where industry standards for new artists were low. Her larger than life personality, an eye for both fashion and beauty, and her detailed art, garnered a large following among her friends and later the local Detroit music scene. During Michigan’s early days of lax standards for licensing tattoo artists, Suzen became instrumental in helping the State of Michigan’s Department of Health adopt regimented statutes for tattoo artists to follow in order to create a safe and clean environment for both artist and client. What began as an initial explanation of her already clean and sterile practices soon became the standard for all local artists to follow.
Moving to Oregon in 2012, Suzen took to using her tattoo art again to help change lives. Beginning in local shops at first and working to cement a solid client base, she later founded her own tattoo studio, The Whiteaker Tattoo Collective in 2013, a space where artists worked cooperatively; sharing the studio and clientele together. In 2012, she began working with the A-team Mothers in their cause to raise awareness for Autism. Suzen dove in using her gift for tattooing joining Ink for Autism, a tattoo fundraising event for Autism awareness; which has become an annual event with several shops working together all over Lane County. Suzen has been a driving force in recruiting more and more shops and charity donations to assist the awareness event.
2013 marked the creation of Suzen’s genuine passion project; Transformation Ink. A project specifically designed to use her art in tattooing to transform lives and empower women. Victims of sex trafficking who are freed from their captors often carry permanent scars or tattoos known as Brands. Pimps place these brands by force and using non-sterile methods, as a form of ownership on trafficked victims. Frequently they include in the brand their e-mail or cell phone numbers for contact info. The process of receiving the brand is often painful and part of a brainwashing technique pimps use to force a feeling of captivity and enslavement on their victims. Many victims feel they can’t escape when their captors e-mail is permanently marked on them. Women who are freed from sex-trafficking, who aren’t helped by a program like this, can carry these scars and horrific memories through the rest of their lives. Suzen takes these Brands and covers them over completely with fresh and beautiful tattoo art, taking the focus away from the forced mark and creating a restored sense of empowerment and beauty. These works of restorative art are funded solely through donations. The client is never charged for this service. Clients can feel that they’ve put this past behind them as the brand they once wore is now transformed into a work of beauty. A life forever changed, empowered, and set free from a recurring and painful reminder.
In addition to having many magazines feature Suzen’s tattoo artwork, she has received multiple community awards and recognition for her efforts including:
• An archived and available interview with Suzen from the Oregon Folklife Network which was recorded live with an audience at the Whiteaker Market. A live talk about being a small business owner in the Whiteaker Neighborhood, creating a positive impact by going above and beyond for the local community both in the City of Eugene and in the Whiteaker neighborhood, along with open forum questions and answers with Suzen. The entire event was sponsored by The National Endowments for the Arts.
• She received the Pebble Award for making a positive ripple in the local community.
• She received a Founders award from the Evergreen Tattoo Invitational, one of the most Prestigious Tattoo Expos in the world, for being one of the founding artists to be invited to exhibit every year since the expo’s foundation. A rare award with few members being invited back repeatedly.
• She was featured on the cover of the Eugene Weekly as a recognized Archetype of the Community. She also had a complete write up in the same issue covering her experience as a tattoo artist and a contributor to the Whiteaker Community and Neighborhood Events.
• She’s also received awards from The Lane County Fair for Photography and Video donations.
• Recognition by The Women’s Festival of the Pacific Northwest.
• The A-Team for Autism Awareness contributions.
Suzen’s life has been dedicated to making her art form a way to transform peoples’ lives.
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