For a number of us, a tattoo is a means to share ourselves. It is a sign of our love for certain icons, people as well as things that we consider significant. Although there are an expanding number of Black tattoo musicians, there aren't nearly as many Black had tattoo studios.
The tattoos that people obtain are as nuanced as the skin they reside on-- and many people find the artist they go to as much a point of pride as the artwork itself. There's an obvious lack of Black artists at the forefront.
However that does not imply they do not exist. There are plenty of Black artists pioneering in the tattoo market by focusing on a range of artful strategies. Need a teeny tat? A sensible portrait? An illustration to honor your culture (as well as your complexion)?
Whether you're currently covered in ink or the idea of a needle sends chills down your spine-- you'll be persuaded to a new piece once you see these beautiful artists. We've detailed a couple of from New York to Miami as well as in between.
Black Owned Tattoo Shops Near DC
Since 1994, Fatty’s has established itself as the best tattoo and piercing shop in the Washington DC/Maryland/Virginia metro area. We are the region’s leader for custom tattooing, body piercing & high quality body jewelry and we have been voted “Best Tattoo Parlor” in the Washington City Paper’s Best of DC Readers Poll in 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Embassy Tattoo is located at 1762 Columbia Road NW in the vibrant, up-and-coming neighborhood of Adams-Morgan, in Washington, DC. We have a very talented crew that can accommodate any style of tattooing that you may want. Whether it be traditional, Japanese, realism, tribal, cover-ups, and everything in-between.
Black Owned Tattoo Shops In NYC
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Black Iris is the collaborative project of Anka Lavriv, John O'Hara, and Eve Steuer—three genre-defying artists who make strictly original work. Shop hours are by appointment only. Inside, there's no old-school flash, no binders, no feel-good Pinterest print-outs, and nothing that resembles Americana. The tattoos coming out of Black Iris tend to be illustrative and finely detailed, with plenty of black line work, natural forms, and occult imagery. Lavriv, O'Hara, and Steuer see each tattoo as a new opportunity of expression, and their work has stunning results. The clientele at Black Iris skews artsy, irreverent, and female. If you've got black nails and The Cure records, you'll feel right at home. Artists Black Iris Collective Johno Anka Leslie Karin Pickett Simon Kat Hannah Mailing List . Black Iris Tattoo, 56 Jewel Street, Brooklyn NY 11222 .
Black Owned Tattoo Shops in LA
There’s a common misconception that dark-skinned people cannot get quality, colored tattoos. James Spooner, an African American vegan tattoo artist who specializes in tattooing dark skin, disagrees. Having been in the industry for ten years, he’s seen firsthand how both clients and tattoo artists make the wrong choices for accommodating dark skin.
“Clients have to respect themselves enough to do research, and they have to look at portfolios,” he told me. “If you don’t see any Black skin on the tattooer’s portfolio, then that means one of two things: either they don’t tattoo Black people very often, or they haven’t done tattoos on Black people that they’re proud enough of to put in their portfolio.”
Spooner, 42 and a New York City native, began as a filmmaker. His globally-acclaimed documentary Afro-Punk (2003) explored race and identity in the predominately White punk scene. The film eventually led to what we now know as the annual Afropunk festival that takes place from Atlanta to Paris. Following his filmmaking career, Spooner transitioned to tattooing in Los Angeles.
Black Owned Tattoo Shops in Detroit
Detroit Inkspot is truly upcoming and innovative tattoo parlor. They never disappoint with their artwork.With male and female artists, they also work to keep you comfortable through the process, and have been Detroit area staples for more than a decade.
Even better, their Lady L is an artist who is a HUGE name in the scene, locally and nationally.
Black Owned Tattoo Studios in Atlanta
Atlanta's number one destination for tattoos and piercings. 100% Black-Owned & operated, we take pride in satisfying customers worldwide, while simultaneously becoming a pillar in our local communities.
Some of the Most Famous Black Tattoo Artists in 2021
Born in Sweden but finessed in Los Angeles, Miryam Lumpini is an artist to watch. Having established a style featuring bold color saturation with breathtaking natural inspiration, she's caught the eye of celebrity clients such as Jhené Aiko and Swae Lee.
This Calgary-based artist is making moves in the industry by crafting illustrative realism tattoos. Anderson is quickly gaining international attention for his stunningly colorful flair, and is currently one of the most coveted artists in Canada.
Poch is one of the best realism tattooers of this generation, hands (and anything else you want inked) down. He began his career at a street shop in NYC but has developed his expertise working in California.
"What defines me is my ability to be something more," he says, "I measure my wealth and success, not by money, but by my ambition and determination to be greater than yesterday."
While he's known for appearing on reality shows Ink Master, Black Ink Crew, and How Far is Tattoo Far, Kevin Laroy has proven through his impressive artistic abilities that he's more than just a reality TV tattooer. Take away the television narrative and you're looking at tons of talent. To aspiring black artists, Laroy says, "If they don't hear you knocking, kick the fucking door down."
Another cast member of Black Ink Crew and How Far is Tattoo Far, Melody has created a brand as a bohemian Jane-of-all-trades. On social media, she's not one to hide her political ideology, showing support for public figures such as Colin Kaepernick and Jussie Smollett.
In 2016, artist Anthony Michaels made history as the first non-white tattooer to take home the title of Ink Master. And based on his impressive skill set as a realism and black-and-grey artist, we can clearly see how he impressed the judges in season 7.
Doreen Garner is a Brooklyn-based artist using her work to support black communities. She recently started a tattoo project for Black History Month called "The Black Panther Project," in which 28 people get permanent designs to support black pride.
"The representation and support of black artists in the tattoo industry is an absolute necessity. As pioneers of body modification and tribal practice, it is essentially our birth rite as black people to carry out our traditions globally, especially in America where we have been stripped of our identity. It's time for our contribution to the culture of tattooing to be celebrated with equal enthusiasm as those who have appropriated it."
If you watched the last season of Ink Master, you'll definitely remember finalist Teej Poole. Teej is a highly skilled black-and-grey artist who made it all the way to the final two in season 11. His name is highly respected throughout the industry at large and he's maintained a presence in the tattoo world for many years.
When asked for advice, he says, "It's not what they call you, it's what you answer to that defines you."
In New York City, micro- and fine-line tattooing are some of the most sought after styles. And if you're looking for a great artist to execute a piece in these styles, look no further than Anthony Christian. His skills shine on all skin tones and he's not afraid to modify his designs to fit the current trends.
"I think the representation of black artists is important in the industry because we've always been outcasts," he says. "From music to sports and many more occupations, you just don't see many of us. It's time for people to start seeing black artists' talents as well, so we can take our art further in our own communities."
Throughout his career in the tattoo industry, Craig Foster has made a huge impact in the new school style. He took his name to mainstream acclaim by appearing on seasons 3 and 6 of Ink Master, securing a spot in the final four of the latter.
"When I began my career in the spring of 1995, there weren't many black tattoo artists that I knew of," he recalls. "There was a very small group, under 10. I got my share of strange looks when people scheduled their appointment with no knowledge of my race. To move past that, I did my best to give them a great tattoo and experience. Those looks don't come these days, but my goal is still the same—great artwork and great experiences. That's what makes a tattoo 'timeless.' "
A specialist in the style of black-and-grey, Darnell Waine creates beautiful designs that tie back to his heritage. From Egyptian deities to big-n'-bold afroed pin-ups, Waine proves black is beautiful with every work he crafts.
Last, and anything but least, Katrina Jackson is not only a talented artist but a trailblazing businesswoman. She's the first black woman to open a tattoo shop in Beverly Hills and has since stoked her shop with a plethora of talented artists of color. She's an example of what is possible and how many artists of color today are making power moves in the industry.
"Black tattoo artists used to be looked down upon in this industry," she says, "but that's changing and it's partly my responsibility to keep that progression going. A lot of urban tattoo artists have settled for tattooing in their houses because it's harder to get into legitimate shops. I want to show what we can do when all the T's are crossed, I's are dotted and we come together to grow."
What do you think about these talented tattooers? Let us know your thoughts, opinions, and questions on this story in the comments section on Facebook.