For These With Darker Skin, Obtaining The Right Tattoo Artist Can Be A Struggle

Diverse skin tones call for distinct tattooing approaches. That can make items tough on tattoo artists and their customers alike.


Tattoos have long ceased to be the mark of a rebel. Nearly half of all millennials have a tattoo, according to a 2016 Harris poll. And even although tattoos have turn into a lot more widespread, several with darker skin struggle to uncover tattoo artists who know how to function on their skin varieties. As NPR’s Parth Shah reports, diverse skin tones call for a different tattooing strategy.

PARTH SHAH, BYLINE: Receiving a tattoo can be nerve wracking. But Osuna Afrik (ph) is no newbie.

OSHUN AFRIK: This is my 35th tattoo.

SHAH: Afrik lounges on the sofa at Pinz and Needlez Tattoo shop in Washington, D.C. While she sips her morning coffee, shop owner Christopher Mensah is busy sketching out Afrik’s 35th tattoo. Afrik has dark brown skin. For the tattoo to show up on her, Mensah says the design requirements to be huge and bold.

CHRISTOPHER MENSAH: Let’s say if somebody came in and got – and they wanted to get a tattoo of a heart with, you know, an initial in it the size of a dime, anything that is a dime size that you may possibly do on white skin you could have to do a quarter or half-a-dollar size on dark skin.

SHAH: Mensah says he’s heard a lot of myths about functioning on dark skin. Some clientele think there’s a special type of ink for dark skin – there isn’t. And it’s not just consumers with misconceptions. He says it really is other artists, as well.

MENSAH: The occasions that I was functioning in white tattoo shops, what I would hear a lot was dark skin is a lot more tough to tattoo. Nevertheless, from my experience, I just think it is softer.

SHAH: What do you imply by that.

MENSAH: When I say it is softer, we tend to keloid a lot more and scar.

SHAH: A keloid is a raised scar, and people with African ancestry are a lot much more likely to get keloids in response to a tattoo.

AFRIK: My keloids are really little, though, compared to some other men and women I’ve observed.

SHAH: Afrik says when she’s looking for a tattoo artist, she studies their portfolio and pays attention to who they’ve tattooed.

AFRIK: If you see only light-skinned individuals or – or white skin, I never want to – simply because I don’t know how they’re going to operate with my skin, so – I am a little darker.

TYLER BREWER: Tattooing dark skin opposed to light skin or any distinction in skin kind is a distinct world.

SHAH: That’s Tyler Brewer, who functions at Kensington Tattoo in Maryland. Brewer is white and says artists should find out how to tattoo all skin sorts. But he says he’s met folks who feel otherwise.

BREWER: I have seen artists fairly a lot give the blow-off to consumers since they had been different, different becoming a distinct color. I believe individuals rationalize their racism in tattooing and their lack of capacity.

SHAH: Back at Pinz and Needlez, artist Christopher Mensah is eagle-eyed and focused on Oshun Afrik’s left forearm. Mensah says the lack of info offered for dark-skinned people looking for tattoos is linked to the lack of people of colour working in the enterprise. He says there wasn’t a community for him when he started tattooing 20 years ago.

MENSAH: At the time, there weren’t many – well, I did not see any black tattoo artists.

SHAH: Afrik says the neighborhood is increasing. Most of her tattoos have been carried out by folks of color. Right after sitting for an hour in the hot seat with Mensah, tattoo number 35 is finished. It is a Sankofa bird, an Adinkra symbol that translates to go back and get it.

AFRIK: I am so excited to show it off, I’m not putting my jacket on. I am going to go – I am going to walk around the city with a tank top in November. I am (laughter).

SHAH: Not so quick, even though. Prior to she leaves the shop, Mensah bandages her forearm so it doesn’t get infected. She’ll have to wait a couple of hours prior to she can show off her new tattoo. Parth Shaw, NPR News.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Check out our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further details.

NPR transcripts are produced on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription approach developed with NPR. This text may possibly not be in its final form and might be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability might vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Arts &amp Life : NPR

An Artist Combined Game Of Thrones With Dr. Seuss And It’s Not Protected For Children

Oh, the areas Game of Thrones characters will go! Artist Alex Cohen, a student at Occidental College in Los Angeles, took Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, and a lot more out of Westeros and place them someplace no dragon can take them: a Dr. Seuss book.

Cohen, who previously gave GoT the Bob’s Burgers treatment, completely re-wrote and re-drew Seuss’s classic children’s book, Oh, the Locations You will Go! Rest assured, it’s just as grim as the Television show.

Alex Cohen

Alex Cohen

Yeah, this probably is not the cheeriest bedtime story. Flip through Cohen’s full Oh, the Locations It’ll Snow! below.

Oh The Place’s It’ll Snow – GoT/Dr. Seuss Crossover

To see much more of Cohen’s operate, pay a visit to his internet site.

I never ever fed my Neopets.



‘Artist & Empire’ at Tate Britain

A survey of art made in response to empire reflects national pride, as well as a legacy of lingering ambivalence

Queen Victoria commissioned the intimate portrait of the Indian artisan Bakshiram now observed in Artist &amp Empire, a key exhibition at Tate Britain that opened this week. The elderly potter returns the artist’s gaze with a weary stoicism from beneath an orange turban. He had lunched with the Queen at Windsor after demonstrating his craft at the Colonial and Indian Exhibition of 1886.


On this topic

IN Visual Arts

However, as with several performs in this ambitious, extensive show, time has altered its which means. Bakshiram and other artisans had been in truth on a supervised check out from the colonial jail in Agra exactly where they learnt their abilities. At a time when colonial subjects were liable to be portrayed as ethnographic or criminal sorts, Austrian artist Rudolf Swoboda invested him with a striking personal dignity.

Subtitled Facing Britain’s Imperial Past, this is billed as the first big-scale show of art created in response to the British empire given that the wonderful imperial exhibitions of the early 20th century. As successive colonies won independence soon after the late 1940s, numerous of these functions had been consigned to basements or military museums as sources of shame, anger, nostalgia or melancholy. Paul Gilroy writes in the catalogue foreword on Britain’s lingering ambivalence towards empire that its imperial previous was “long a matter of national pride and a supply of prestige as properly as a litany of exploitation, famine, cruelty and slaughter”. As a measure of this contentiousness, the show’s announcement last summer triggered, in parts of the British press, a reflex defence of empire.

Some 200 paintings, drawings, sculptures and artefacts span far more than 400 years, from the 16th century to the present. British artists are joined by ones from former colonies, with fresh consideration to girls and amateurs. Loans outnumber the Tate’s 25 functions but all are drawn from the UK. As the lead curator, Alison Smith, says: “Imperial collecting formed the bedrock of our collections.”

Sir Henry Tate’s gallery was itself founded in the 1890s on a fortune made in refining plantation sugar. It is now among national institutions rethinking their collections — some would say belatedly — in the light of challenges posed by decades of art and scholarship, significantly of it driven by intellectuals from former colonies. Edward Mentioned, Homi Bhabha, Stuart Hall and Gilroy are among these whose believed implicitly underpins this show.

Arranged by art-historical genres, the show moves from maps and “curiosities”, history painting, portraiture and costume to empire’s influence on the development of contemporary art. Rather than illustrating a historical narrative, Smith says, “we lead with the picture”. The initial “Mapping” section ranges from a 16th-century watercolour of Enniskillen Castle in England’s “first colony”, Ireland, to iconic oils of higher-imperial adventurism. 1 painting has Sir Francis Drake leaning proprietorially on a globe, flanked by fellow Elizabethan privateers Thomas Cavendish and Sir John Hawkins, a pioneer of Britain’s transatlantic slave trade.

In John Millais’ “The North-West Passage” (1874) a grizzled mariner resolves to beat foreign rivals to an Arctic trade route to Asia, as his daughter, delicate in pink and white, reads at his feet. Copiously reproduced in its day — and deployed to lobby for expedition funds — Millais’ defining image imbued the burden of empire with the heartfelt imperative of familial duty. One of Tate’s earliest bequests, the painting fell from view until it was cleaned for this show.

“Trophies of Empire” charts the channels by which colonial objects discovered their way to Britain, from gifts to plunder. Reclassified, they formed the nucleus of today’s museums, collecting being a robust theme all through. George Stubbs’s “A Cheetah and a Stag with Two Indian Attendants” (c1764) dominates, along with a portrait of the 18th-century naturalist Sir Joseph Banks flaunting Maori regalia. There is palatial loot from Benin and Mysore but also nature studies by miniature painters such as Shaikh Zain ud-Din employed by East India Company and other patrons.

History paintings that posed as documentary to rally the British populace behind imperial adventures are grouped in “Imperial Heroics”. A style for depicting the orderly exchange of land through treaties offers way to heroic final stands that created martyrs of the defeated, from George William Joy’s “The Death of General Gordon, Khartoum” (1893) to Allan Stewart’s “To the Memory of Brave Men” (1897) on the initial Matabele war. The vengeful backlash triggered by the Indian rebellion of 1857 is exemplified by Edward Armitage’s “Retribution” (1858), in which Britannia slays a tiger that has ravaged a pale woman and child.

Yet even though several artists were complicit in imperial policy, some had been far more questioning. Elizabeth Butler’s oil painting “The Remnants of an Army” (1879) portrays an injured cavalryman fleeing battle. After seen as a lament for a heroic defeat in the second Afghan war, fresh research favours reading the painting as an indictment of a foolish campaign.

The diligent visitor will discover an immense quantity from this history of empire in 200 art objects. Yet are the grand imperialist paintings matched by visuals of equal energy? Marvellous centrepieces range from Asafo flag collages by Fante artists and Yoruba sculptures of British royals — whether or not homage or caricature — to Thomas Ona Odulate’s touching wooden sculptures of Europeans from the 1920s and 1930s. Andrew Gilbert’s installation “British Infantry Advance on Jerusalem” (2015) satirically inverts the ethnographic tableaux in military museums, full with teacups, regimental fetishes and sawdust. Yet such irony, and the captions’ subtleties, danger being overshadowed by what was, after all, powerful visual propaganda.

What does emerge strongly, specifically via mutual portraiture and the development of modernisms, is the two-way site visitors of empire, and the cultural hybridity it fostered, from dress to styles of art. Despite Gilroy’s contention that “the inability to come to terms with these disputed legacies . . . has contributed to a deep and abiding ignorance”, a basic expertise of the economic workings of empire is assumed. There is little sign of the commodities at its heart, the tea, sugar and tobacco that became portion of British identity, nor of enslaved Africans — other than Nicholas Pocock’s ink drawing of captives at gunpoint and William Blake’s manacled peon awaiting liberation by the Royal Navy at the feet of a divine Nelson. An unfortunate absence is JMW Turner’s “The Slave Ship” (1840), depicting slavers on the Zong jettisoning sick captives like ballast to claim the insurance coverage. That masterpiece is in US hands.

Offered such visual lacunae, the sinister brutality of Donald Locke’s “Trophies of Empire” (1972-74) comes as a salutary shock. Its phallic, bullet-like ceramics, some linked by leg irons (the shapes also allude to sugar cones), are arranged as in a museum cabinet. An inspiration for a generation of British artists in the 1980s, Locke’s installation was acquired by the Tate only this year. The Aboriginal artist Judy Watson’s etching “Our bones in your collections” (1995) is yet another effective response to ethnography.

These last rooms are a reminder of a legacy of dispute, not only more than the restitution of art and human remains but the redefinition of British art. The belated acquisition of artists such as Aubrey Williams (1926-1990), who moved to England from British Guiana in 1952 however, until lately, was not noticed as British adequate for the Tate, tells its own story.

‘Artist &amp Empire’, Tate Britain, London, until April ten.

Slideshow photographs: Leeds Museums and Galleries Cotton Pebble London Collection Royal Collection Trust National Museums Liverpool Manchester Art Gallery The British Museum, London British Library Tate

Copyright The Monetary Times Restricted 2015. You may share utilizing our write-up tools.
Please don’t reduce articles from and redistribute by email or post to the net.

Section: Arts