That’s one of the questions that many of you have been asking, and I had the amazing opportunity to talk with a group of tattoo artists about that very subject. I was able to talk to tattoo artist Dr. Kevin Scharf, of the St. Louis-based Artist for Change, about tattoos for black people. For those of you who are not familiar with my work, I recently started my new tattoo studio Artistic Tattoo Collective, so I figured it was about time someone explained my thoughts on that. It has been a real challenge to interview, because they were all extremely busy with their daily jobs.
When I started teaching, I noticed how often I saw black students with black tattoos, so I decided to take some interest in it, and to interview some of the people who were doing them. As a self-tattoo artist, I would love to meet these people and tell them that I appreciate them being self-tattoo artists, and that I have been a tattooist my entire life, and that’s why I am able to see a difference between being a self-tattoo artist and a tattoo artist, because there are subtle differences when you are in the same profession.
As it turns out, some of these folks actually do have tattoos, and even if you don’t know they do, you certainly know they do. I’ve seen some self-tattoo artists with tattoos, and at the same time, I’ve seen some black students without tattoos. I’ve also seen some black students without any tattoos who look exactly like the self-tattoo artist because they have an affinity for their skin color. It was actually pretty interesting for me, because I noticed that there was only one Black person out of the eight who had no tattoos, and I was like, “Wow, that’s cool that one person is black. But they all look pretty similar anyway, so who cares?” I would have liked to see a Black/White or Latino/white split, but it happens to be the norm.
The interesting thing about black people without tattoos is that it happens a variety of ways depending upon how you define tattooing. You might have a Black woman without tattoos tattoo on her cheek, or you might have a Black woman without tattoos tattooing her leg. The truth of the matter is that most black men and women can easily get tattoos without having to go through the arduous process of dyeing or putting on a skin graft to add extra pigment or texture to
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