There is unfortunately still quite a bit of subtle (and not-so-subtle) racism in the tattoo industry. It’s often believed that customers with darker skin are harder to tattoo, but that’s certainly not the case. Especially as body modification is such an important part of all cultures and histories, not just white ones.
Black ink is also not the only ink that has to be used on dark skin, contrary to what many believe. Darker skin can still feature bright and colourful pieces. you just have to know what you’re doing with that tattoo machine.
More tattoo artists should push themselves to learn how to tattoo different skin types, including darker skin, as the subculture of tattooing isn’t so “sub” anymore. It can be disheartening for black or tanned customers walking into a tattoo shop when all they see is flash painted on white paper, and portfolios filled with white skin, or only very dark tattoos on darker skin.
(June 2020) With the world finally rallying beside our black brothers and sisters it’s more important than ever to support black businesses, including tattoo artists.
Feel free to leave more links to black tattoo artists below!
Rob Kelly is the owner of BLACKOUT Tattoo in Hong Kong. Rob has been tattooing since 2005, and has lived in Hong Kong since 1994. BLACKOUT Tattoo was founded in 2010 and features brilliant permanent artists as well as travelling guest artists.
Rob tattoos in many styles including American traditional, Neo traditional, black work, Japanese, Chinese, black and grey, line work, realism, tribal, and more.
Rob has a book of flash you can choose from, or you can book a consultation with him and collaborate on something completely original for yourself.
The shop abides by all health regulations, including using new ink and needles, so no need to worry about infections.
Rob has incredible attention to detail and will make sure you leave the shop happy and with a badass tattoo! Check out his website and set up a consultation http://www.blackout-tattoo.com
Along with being adorable little snuffle faces, pugs also used to be treated like royalty. Emperors of China used to keep them as pets and pampered them to the extreme; sometimes giving them their own pug sized palaces and guards.
Pugs are thought to have originated in China and their lineage is said to go back to before 400 BCE, being related to a similar breed called lo-sze. Before Emperors started keeping pugs, Buddhist monks kept them as pets in their monasteries.
The name pug actually comes from a kind of monkey called marmoset, which were nicknamed pugs. The two share similar facial features, and both are very cute!
Pugs make excellent companions due to their fun loving personalities. They’re great for a cuddle (if you can put up with snoring) and they won’t say no to a romp in the park either!
Frida Kahlo was a painter born in Mexico in 1907. She mainly painted self portraits, but many were heavily stylized, and some based on current pop culture.
Her art explored questions of gender, identity, class, race, and postcolonialism in Mexican society.
Frida’s art has been called surrealist, and magic realist. Her paintings are praised today by feminists for their depictions of the female experience and form.
Frida became an artist during recovery after she was injured in an accident when she was eighteen.
She became interested in politics in 1927, and joined the Mexican Communist Party where she met her husband. The two divorced in 1939 but did re marry.
Frida traveled Mexico and the United States, and was given a solo exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York in 1938, which was a massive success. This was quickly followed by another exhibition in Paris the following year.
Frida had her first solo exhibition in Mexico in 1953.
She died the following year at the age of 47 due to bronchopneumonia.
Though she was relatively well known in certain circles during her lifetime, her work wasn’t appreciated the way it is now until the 1990’s, when her paintings became icons for feminists, Chicanos, and the LGBTQ community.
Spirited Away is Hayao Miyazaki’s most popular film to date. It is an Academy Award winner, and Japan’s highest grossing film of all time. It came out in 2001 and is still one of the most popular Japanese films out there.
The film was created without a script. The artwork came first, and it was drawn, directed, and written by Miyazaki himself.
The lead character, Chihiro, was actually based on one of Miyazaki’s friends’ daughters. She was supposed to be a relatable character and as average as possible. This was to show that ordinary people, particularly young women, could be heroes too.
A common occurrence in Miyazaki films are the quiet scenes of inaction. These are often some of the most beautiful scenes in his films. In Spirited Away, these scenes include driving, various nature scenes, and characters staring off into the distance.
Spirited Away has many memorable characters that make for fantastic tattoos. Some of the most popular characters for tattoos are no face, Chihiro, Haku, Yubaba, and the cute little soot sprites!
These tattoos are often done in blackwork, neo traditional, dotwork, and watercolor.
The werewolf myth dates back thousands of years, in numerous cultures; but it became most popular between the 16th and 19th centuries. These stories grew so popular that it seemed almost every town in Europe had its own werewolf tale. Books such as Discours de la Lycanthropie published in 1599, described werewolves as “men so denatured, that they have made bastards of their first origin, leaving this divine form, and transforming themselves into such an impure, cruel and savage beast.”
Another term for werewolf is lycan. Lycanthropy, then, is the change of man or woman into the form of a wolf, either through magical means, so as to enable him or her to gratify the taste for human flesh, or through judgment of the gods in punishment for some great offence, as put by Sabine Baring-Gould in his 1865 book The Book of Werewolves.
When sideshows were a popular part of circus life, people with hypertrichosis were often branded as werewolves.
Popular werewolf movies include An American Werewolf in London 1981, The Wolf Man 1941, The Curse of the Werewolf 1961, and The Wolfman 2010.
As a tattoo, werewolves are often done in black and grey style, realism, neo traditional, and American traditional.
Anubis is the ancient Egyptian god/guardian of the dead. The name Anubis actually comes from the Greek, but the earliest Egyptian names for him include Anpu, or Inpu. Both have the same root word which means “royal child”, and “inp” which means “to decay”.
He is generally depicted as a black, jackal-dog-man hybrid, with the body of a man and head of a jackal/dog. The colour black was chosen for its symbolism of both decaying bodies, and the soil along the Nile river.
Anubis is first seen as the son of Ra and Hesat, before he is brought into the story of Osiris, and said to be his son.
Anubis is the earliest god depicted on tomb walls, usually presiding over the mummification process, or weighing of the soul. This is the process in which a persons soul is weighed against the feather of truth.
Anubis is both judge and guide of the dead. Making him an authoritative figure, as well as a protector. This makes him one of the most important gods in Egyptian history.
Later in history he was partially adopted into Greek mythology, associating him with Hermes.
As a tattoo, Anubis is often done in blackwork, black and grey, neo traditional, water colour, and realism styles.
The geisha, or, “person of accomplishment” date back to 1751 in the mid-Tokugawa period in Japan. Geisha’s were originally men, but eventually became women.
Geisha’s were trained artists skilled in tea ceremony, flower arranging, and as singers, dancers, storytellers, servers, and conversationalists. These women were all literate and were familiar with poetry and tales of warriors in order to entertain their patrons. Geisha’s were not prostitutes, but worked in the pleasure districts, also called “the floating world” and while not they were not sex workers, some did become concubines or mistresses for men who would buy their contracts from their masters.
Geisha’s are known for their musical prowess, particularly with an instrument called samisen, which today is also used in kabuki plays and has an inherently “Japanese” sound. As for appearance, while working a geisha would wear a kimono tied from the back, which is another difference between a geisha and a prostitute as a prostitute would have her kimono tied in the front. A thick white foundation of makeup is applied to the face, neck, and upper chest, with a line around the hairline creating a mask like appearance. Other makeup includes black around the eyes and eyebrows with bright red lips.
Geisha’s still exist today, though due in part to the rigorous training in order to become one, are much less frequent. Today, geisha’s mainly entertain politicians at parties.
As a tattoo a geisha will generally be done in Japanese traditional style, neo Japanese, American traditional, neo traditional, black and grey, or realism.
Geisha’s are an important part of Japanese history and make a fantastic design!