Beauty

8 Black Tattoo Artists To Follow On Instagram For Ink Inspiration

Plus, common misconceptions about tattooing melanated skin.

Getting inked — whether it’s your first time or not — is a pretty significant experience. From deciding on the design and color (here’s a good primer on the year’s top tattoo trends should you need a little inspo) to figuring out where to go to making sure you know how to properly care for it, some people do *a lot* of research before committing to even the tiniest of tattoos. For people with darker skin tones, it’s not uncommon to come across misinformation (and even some downright myths) that exist about tattoos and melanated skin.

According to Genesis Valenzuela, a tattoo artist based in New York City, some common misconceptions include the belief that colored pigments don’t translate well on Black skin. “[But] it depends on a person’s melanin tone and the artist’s color palette,” she tells Bustle. “The artist must be skilled enough to create a palette for the client that works with their skin tone.” Another myth? That Black skin scars easily [from tattoos]. “Some people have keloid-prone skin and others don’t,” says Genesis. “But at times, scarring is actually due to a tattoo artist relining the same area multiple times.” She adds that this might happen because the artist isn’t able to clearly distinguish between the stencil and the client’s skin, and they want to ensure the lines are captured. “However, this causes more trauma to the skin, thus creating scarring.”

Jaz Paulino, a tattoo artist at Fleur Noire Tattoo, which has studios in Brooklyn and L.A., says it’s important that people of color looking to get a tattoo do their research to find “a notable artist who has experience tattooing Black and brown skin.” What’s more, don't just look at the fresh work, look at the healed work. “Make sure that your artist is someone you feel comfortable getting tattooed with.” Thanks to the power of the internet, Paulino says more and more tattoo artists of color are able to display their work, showing that “not only is it possible [to tattoo melanated skin], it’s beautiful.”

Below, in addition to Valenzuela and Paulino, see six other Black tattoo artists you should be following on Instagram ASAP.

Doreen Garner

Brooklyn-based tattoo artist and fine art sculptor Doreen Garner — aka @flesh_and_fluid on Instagram and TikTok — is a must-follow for her painstakingly detailed work, often on melanated skin. From floral forearm pieces to mermaids with cowrie shells, Garner’s skill is unmatched. (Her candid 2019 interview with Bustle is also really worth a read.)

Brittany Randell

For impressive line work and mesmerizing figures of people, plants, and animals, follow Brittany Randell (@humblebeetattoo), who operates out of her Eden Tattoo Studio in Toronto. Her work is proof that black and gray tattoos look great on everyone — and so do colorful ones.

Jaz Paulino

Jaz Paulino got her first tattoo at 18, and right away, fell in love with the craft. Based in Brooklyn (though she travels), she specializes in American traditional and blackwork tattoos, but it’s her colorful — and sometimes comical — work that makes her a standout artist in the industry.

Kandace Layne

Kandace Layne opened her private studio, Magic Mirror Tattoo Studio, in Atlanta just last year, and you’ll want to follow her — and try and book an appointment — ASAP because she’s one to watch. Growing up in a Muslim household, Layne specializes in henna- and tribal-inspired work that’s ornamental (and incredibly detailed) in nature.

Medusa

Medusa’s background in mixed media art bleeds into her tattoo artistry, which runs the gamut from traditional vintage hearts to cheerful motifs depicting things like happy mushrooms and Care Bears. You can find her at Wish Me Luck Tattoo, the first Black-, trans-, and queer-owned tattoo studio in Chicago.

You’ll want to follow Genesis Valenzuela not only for her impressive roller-skating skills, but her detailed, illustrative tattoos that range from ornamental tribal patterns and dot tattoos to fine lines and geometric shapes. If you want to book an appointment with her, note that she offers free color tests on people of color.

Miryam Lumpini

Swedish-born, L.A.-based freelance tattoo artist and illustrator Miryam Lumpini is only 31, but she’s already made some serious waves in the tattoo industry. In addition to creating ink for celebs like Swae Lee and Kehlani, she’s been tapped as the global director of tattoo artistry for KVD Beauty. Her colorful depictions of flora and fauna are particularly transfixing.

Elisheba Mrozik

Nashville-based artist Elisheba Mrozik is both a skilled tattoo artist and a muralist specializing in realism, watercolor, and illustrative realism. Her creativity — both on skin and on canvas — knows no bounds. Her pop culture-inspired work, from The Wizard of Oz-inspired imagery to a James Baldwin tribute, is eye-catching, to say the least.