How to Find a Tattoo Artist That Specializes in Darker Skin

We live in a world where getting a vibrant, dazzling tattoo on dark skin isn’t as easy as it should be. Though the art of tattoo originated in many different communities of color, somehow, dark skin tattoos are now treated as a niche interest. Until tattoo artists are better educated on how to ink people with darker skin, there are a few ways to ensure you get the striking, gorgeous tattoo you deserve. Below, we talk about how to find a tattoo artist that can handle any amount of melanin.

Ask for Samples

You don’t want to be the first person to get a tattoo from someone who has no experience with dark skin—unless it’s someone you really, really trust. Ask for examples of prior work, and make sure you like the style and the color before setting up an appointment. If you find an artist you want, but they don’t have pictures of healed tattoos on dark skin, that’s a red flag.

Follow Tattoo Artists on Social Media


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ink The Diaspora (@inkthediaspora)

One of the best parts of social media is that it has made word-of-mouth recommendations easier to give and get—even if you’re an introvert who lives in the middle of nowhere. Read up on the artists who speak out on the need for more tattoo artists who excel creating tattoos on dark skin. Follow them on social media and follow the accounts they follow. There might not be a tattoo artist in your area right now, but you might find out about festivals, conventions, and other events that bring your favorite artists closer to home.

The Experts Can Help You Find a Tattoo Artist

Many people of color are already boosting the work of artists who shine when tattooing dark skin. Fairytatmother, for instance, has made a guide to dark skin tattoos—for tattoo artists who are new to tattooing dark skin! She recommends color testing, has ideas for ink selection, and created a super-comprehensive compilation of information.  Sanyu, Sista Ink, Ink the diaspora, and Laet Tattoo are great accounts to start with, but there’s a more complete list here. Look through hashtags like #darkskinbodyart and #darkskintattoos until you’ve pinpointed the exact styles you like.

Know the Pitfalls and Myths


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by WSTLDNGRL (@laet_tattoo)

Since tattooing dark skin has been misunderstood as “more difficult,” you’re going to have to know the pitfalls and make sure your artist does, too. The fact that people with dark skin face this challenge and people with light skin don’t is unfair. But until more people gain experience tattooing dark skin, it’s better to play it safe.

This means you’ll want to bone up on things like getting keloids. Keloids are types of raised scars that occur more often in dark skin. The worst part is that it’s not that dark skin is more prone to keloids, it’s that tattoo artists mistakenly think they have to tattoo deeper on darker skin, which is also more painful. And unless you dare to look at keloid pictures on medical websites like I did, you’ll just have to trust me: you don’t want them.

Hopefully, the tips above will help you find a tattoo artist that can give you exactly what you want. And with any luck, in the future, all tattoo artists will understand the ins and outs of tattooing dark skin every bit as much as they do light skin.

For more inspiration, check out the Tattooed Women gallery!