BY SALONEE MISTRY
Zero and his business partners started Crucible Tattoo Co - Melbourne’s first queer owned and run tattoo studio - after identifying a need to create a tattoo parlour where all people can feel safe during the relatively intimate experience.
At the centre of the studio's business model is a pledge that anyone who walks through its doors feels safe, irrespective of their gender, sexuality or race.
Growing up in the country, Zero's earliest memory of tattoos were from biker communities frequenting the neighbourhood. Seeing their tattoos inspired him to join the industry.
Starting off as a body piercing artist, Zero visited several tattoo studios early on in his career and was amazed at the poor treatment handed out to those who were a part of the LGBTQIA community.
“Everyone was nice to the clients to their face, but would make fun of them based on their sexuality once they left,” Zero said.
“This did not make me feel safe or welcome and that is when I realised that a queer-friendly, welcoming and safe space had to be created.
“My business partners and I found a space on Gumtree, renovations lasted for about three months and we started the studio at the end of November 2015. There has been no looking back since,” Zero said
Brody has been at the studio since its inception, and shares similar experiences.
“I remember I went to an artist for an apprenticeship and he told me ‘I have two chicks at home, don’t need another one’, without even looking at my work,” Brody said.
“This was before I medically transitioned so I was still read as a woman, rather than as a trans person."
Zero and Brody both agree the industry is moving towards acceptance and inclusion, but there is still a long way to go.
“Queer spaces won’t change the world, but they are a safe haven for those in need,” Brody said.
Zero said the tattoo industry is largely masculine in nature and needs a culture shift.
"These spaces help a member from the community help another struggling one, through their own lived experiences since that is the only way to do it,” Zero said.
In light of March 31 being Trans Visibility Day, Zero also spoke on the importance of uniting to recognise the community.
“The undercurrent of Trans Visibility Day is important and helps create a ripple effect, building an understanding between those within the community and those on the outside as well.”