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.
â€śI want to believe there are more of us [women], but so far, there are very, very few,â€ť African-American tattoo artist Imani K.Â Brown, 32, told theGrio.Â â€ťI know about two in Detroit. Thatâ€™s it.â€ť
Being a black tattoo professional has placed the artist in a strange caste. â€śPeople think weâ€™re on the darker side of life,â€ť said Brown, referring to misconceptions about her line of work. Â â€ťThat weâ€™re all rockstars and worship the devil.â€ť
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 canâ€™t get color, [they can only get] red, or theyâ€™re too dark for a tattoo.Â Usually, I just laugh and tell them to look at my portfolios.Â Itâ€™s easier to let people see things on similar skin, than to try and explain it. They see that weâ€™re specialists in black skin and they can decide for themselves from there.