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.