The honest truth is 90% of white tattooers do not take the time or the effort to figure out how to tattoo dark skin.
~ Brandon Bond, All or Nothing Tattoo | Atlanta, GA
Hi friends old and new!
Happy #TATTUESday. Today is a special one where I’ll get a bit active for you. ;-D
As I state, time and time again here, a lot of advice and tattoo tips shared are for melanin skin, especially. So today, I am giving you additional tips to finding your artist for melanin skin.
✨Finding YOUR Artist, For Melanin Skin
When researching your artist, be sure to cover these things ~
- ask questions, have you ever done work on dark skin? what colors would you use on me? what are your recommendations for a good tattoo, based on my idea?, etc. Don’t be shy … let those questions roll!
- portfolios, (this again haha) look at them and specifically look for work on dark skin; both fresh & healed tattoos
- professional black tattoo shops/ studios/ artists, well that’s self-explanatory ^^ But in case you’re not sure where to start, look for black OWNED shops, scour Google with keywords like “black female tattoo artist” and of course, word of mouth reigns tried and true! Like any other skill set, we all vary with styles and execution so after locating a few potential PoC artists, you’ll still need to go through the traditional steps to finding your tattoo artist (I HIGHLY encourage consultations, yea?!)
The fact is that all skin is NOT created equal. Melanin skin comes in all shades from the brightest to the darkest. And truthfully, most artists who can successfully tattoo on brown skin can adapt that style for ANY other skin tone, making art AH-MAZING!
Brandon Bond, from All or Nothing Tattoo talks about this concept in the full length tattoo documentary, Color Outside the Lines. (Watch the whole damn thang, but if you need a marker, skip ahead to 31:26 for Bond’s talk ^^)
The truth is that most of the time, black artists see a tattoo on dark skin and can instantly tell if it was done by a white artist … without FAIL! Why?! Tow reasons – white artists approach a piece on dark skin with the same execution or the artist is intimidated by working on dark skin and won’t confidently execute the piece.
Let’s not mince words. It IS totally f#%cking different tattooing black skin than it is white skin. And that’s why you see so many f&#cked up tattoos on black skin.
~ Brandon Bond
✨Critiquing Maki’s Tattoo
All of that shared, I decided to use my good friend, Maki’s tattoo as an example of why you should take your tattoo artist search seriously. ^^
Disclaimer: NOTHING shared here is an attack on Maki, her brand, her tattoo artist, or white tattooers in general. This is also NOT to say that all white tattooers are bad on dark skin (that’s just plain STUPID! >.<) It is SIMPLY a good example to help you on your way to making informed body art decisions. SO please get out of your feelings before you even step into them. ^^
I first saw Maki’s piece on Facebook, while updating my fan page. After seeing the piece I was mad as sh~ …
And to be clear NOT because I didn’t do the tattoo, but because I knew it could have been executed much better. I instantly thought “this was probably a white artist” (I know … horrible of me, right?! >.< ) and decided to trace the pic back to her IG account to look at the artist’s work.
My George I was right! Hey now~
OMG! I totally fell in love with Chad’s work when I saw it. It’s beautiful, clean, imaginative, fresh and some more. I am especially in love with his realism. Case in point … the lion piece in the photo above is HEAVEN! And the finished piece is even more magical … my GAWD!
BUT … he was missing something in all of his portfolios. You guessed it ~ dark skin tattoos. 😀
Everybody’s different. And you have to kinda tailor your approach to the person that you’re tattooing.
~Russ Abbot, Ink & Dagger Tattoo | Atlanta, GA
So that shared, in my expert opinion (← I always wanted to say that hahaha) I don’t think Maki’s piece was executed to Chad’s full potential. In fact, it feels like he wasn’t as confident going into this piece. That or he just didn’t care … the world may never know.
Compared to the rest of his work, here is a critique of where I feel this piece failed ~
- banners are inconsistent
- lifework becomes lazy& inconstant
✨Tattoo Redraw, For Melanin Skin
If I’m gonna tattoo dark skin, the first thing I’m gonna do is adjust the composition. Right of the bat.
Regardless of her actual tattoo, I’d already started taking liberties to correct some of the issues outlined above. Besides necessary adjustments, I didn’t change the design or add my personal ornamental flair.
Why?! Because sometimes customers want what they want with very little creative liberties. It’s our job as artists to appease that (within reason). I am not saying this is the case, but I treated this redraw as if Maki was my client and she gave strict instruction.
Hint: I’m not very good with customers who are extremely precise but need to work on this. So I get my practice in where I can and how I’d like. Then I’ll be ready ? *don’t judge me* LOL
Important changes that were made are ~
- gave more depth to the spearhead
- made the piece symmetrical
- corrected the banner flow
- changed to a more legible custom hand style
Here’s a video of my redrawing the redrawing (tattoo inception at it’s best haha)
Please don’t forget to subscribe ^^
So tell me, what are some of your thoughts or experiences with finding a tattoo artist for dark skin?
Let’s Keep in Touch