Unlike paper or canvas, there’s the permanence that comes with working on skin; the least forgiving surface of all. Even if you aren’t keen on tattoos, you have to admire the skill it takes to turn the human body into a living work of art using needles and ink. The rise from apprentice to professional is challenging for all who work in the tattoo industry, but Black tattoo artists experience a unique set of complications. Some find it difficult to land apprenticeships because of the color of their skin, while others encounter clients requesting racist designs.
As reported by Allure, “racism can look like many different things, from discriminatory hiring practices in tattoo shops to whitewashed images of clients on Instagram, and even the racist imagery and cultural appropriation seen in many common designs. Among tattoo artists of color, conversations surrounding these problematic practices and holding artists accountable are nothing new, but renewed, widespread interest in diversity and inclusion has brought these discussions to a wider audience, and led to much reflection and calls for change in the tattoo industry.”
There’s little to stop a Black person determined to succeed in any sphere, and Black tattoo artists are no exception. They travel across the country and around the world to hone their craft, and social media enables them to share their skills with millions of fans. We love to see it!
If you’re looking to get tattooed during your travels, here are some Black, US-based artists who deserve your attention and patronage.