One of the oldest and most prevalent cultural practices across the globe, tattooing has become increasingly popular in the African-American community. Yet while this group has demonstrated a growing affinity for receiving tattoos, the number of licensed black artists practicing the profession is much smaller by comparison. Add gender to the mix, and the number dwindles even further.
“I want to believe there are more of us [women], but so far, there are very, very few,” African-American tattoo artist Imani K.Â Brown, 32, told theGrio.Â ”I know about two in Detroit. That’s it.”
Being a black tattoo professional has placed the artist in a strange caste. “People think we’re on the darker side of life,” said Brown, referring to misconceptions about her line of work. Â ”That we’re all rockstars and worship the devil.”
Check out an excerpt of her interview with TheGrio below:
Some people believe tattooing a black person is either really difficult, or impossible. Have you heard this before within your industry?
Imani Brown: Of course! Mostly from white artists though. People get told that they can’t get color, [they can only get] red, or they’re too dark for a tattoo.Â Usually, I just laugh and tell them to look at my portfolios.Â It’s easier to let people see things on similar skin, than to try and explain it. They see that we’re specialists in black skin and they can decide for themselves from there.