The Stripped Issue_1






Tattd 1

Walk the Line 13

Joshua Giovanni 21

Christine Fury 29

Dark Skin Tatoo Tips 41

Words from a Corner Cutter

Once, when I was a toddler, I tripped and kissed the

pavement front-teeth first. I was rounding the corner

out of my house with a freshly-filled Super Soaker in

hand when my foot caught the threshold of the door.

My mother, bless her brown heart, swears it was a

freak accident. I'm inclined, however, to trace my bad

habits back to their beginnings. Even now, I snag my

t-shirts on table ends and half-ass my job

applications. I’d be willing to bet that my mouth met

cement that day because I was cutting corners.

In this issue, you’ll see some familiar interviews.

These are pieces I previously and prematurely posted

to UTNG. I went back to the drawing board because I

recognized my old habit rearing it’s toothless head. I

decided to strip everything down and start again, this

time adding quality and content as I went along; this

time minding my corners. My intention now is to give

this project the long, wide strides it deserves. That

said, thank you to everyone for bearing with me

through the bullshit. This is The Stripped Issue,

“where it’s all out there” in more ways than one.

Picture this: The year is

2021. The residual

weirdness from this

piece-of-shit pandemic

is dissipating like that

sad raccoon’s cotton

candy in the creek. Life

is almost as it was. You

emerge from the

darkness and, as you

glance down at your

withered limbs, you

remember the tattoos

underneath the layers of

ash. You reach for the

lotion and rub it into

your dehydrated skin.

The pictures, once

ruins, begin to


and shimmer: a


head, a rose, a


butter y. An




You squint


at the sun and swig


last of your breakfast


“Finally,” you


“I’m ready for a


tattoo.” That’s




where Tattd comes in.


Anyone who thinks that avoiding

tattooing dark skin isn't racism is an

absolute lunatic.

So, from what I understand, the app will serve as a client-to-artist liaison. What

exactly does that mean? What is Tattd?

For the rst time ever we’ve created a platform for tattooing with an intelligent

search function that will lter your perfect artist or studio by location, price,

tattoo style and even keyword. You can easily scan portfolios, add them to your

Favs for later and directly contact artists in the app. It's great for people who are

tired of searching far and wide for an artist, and great for local artists to get new


How did the idea for Tattd come about? Was the design yours alone?

I’m the sole founder, but Tattd wouldn’t be possible without my incredible team.

Working in tech — speci cally dreaming up what can be created with technology

in order to make people’s lives easier — I thought to myself, "There must be a

better way." You might have heard the saying "Necessity is the mother of

invention" and that’s de nitely the case here. I was so tired of looking through

Instagram hashtags, Yelp reviews and Facebook forums. Finally, a year ago, I

decided to [create the app]; it was the best decision I’ve ever made.

You hold down a traditional 9-5 in addition to developing Tattd?

I do. I’m bootstrapping Tattd, which means I need a separate source of income.

I’m vice president of strategy at an app-development rm in New York City

called Majestyk. I consult with entrepreneurs on the possibilities of tech and how

to execute their creative vision. Now, I get to apply those skills to my own


So, how would the app function for artists? Do they just download Tattd then

upload their portfolio, availability, rates, etc.?

We did a ton of research and created a database of about 7,000 artists that I’ll be

directly contacting to invite onto the app. If by some horrible mistake we missed

anybody, they can register as an artist on the app and be approved within 24

hours. But yes, artists will be able to indicate their hourly rate, bio,

specializations and choose which photos to highlight in their portfolio.

T tt

And clients will be able to upload references and

So, like Kayak, Tattd will

probably be useful for tourists

preferred-placement photos so that the artist

can comprehensively consider or reject the

looking to get tattooed while

traveling somewhere new. It will


also undoubtedly prove useful for

Yes! So, as a client, you can save images of your

rst-timers or those who haven’t

pinned down their go-to artist

Favs and upload your own inspo images to create

a mood board for your next tattoo. Then, you can

yet. How do you think Tattd will

directly message the mood board to artists. In

serve those who are already


the chat you’ll be able to discuss all the details

and get a quote. You'll eventually be able to

request and submit deposits too!

I'm actually one of those people —

someone who's heavily tattooed

How do you decide who quali es as an artist?

but would de nitely use Tattd. If

you have a lot of tattoos, more

Say, for instance, Kitchen-wizard Kevin wants

to register as an artist on Tattd to make some

often than not they require

di erent expertise. Let's say I

extra cash. Would he be approved?

want a portrait done, but most of

my tattoos are script. I likely

Our platform is for experienced,

well-established artists only. To start, each

wouldn't go to the same person.

Every artist I've talked to supports

application will be thoroughly reviewed by me,

personally. We’ll eventually have a team on it for

that; they don't want to do a piece

they're not comfortable with or

quality assurance, but right now I want to

personally vet each person.

even tattoo in a style they don't

like. It’s still a win-win, even if

you're deep in the culture.

The database spans America? Does it also

include international artists?

Will the app also act as a liaison

for microblading services,

We’re just in the U.S. for now. We’re launching in

12 of the most tattooed cities, but we’re going to

cosmetic tattooing, tattoo

removal, piercing, body

be expanding before 2020 ends. The launch cities

are: Austin, Houston, Portland, San Francisco,

modi cation, etc.?

LA, San Diego, Chicago, Las Vegas, Denver,

LS: No, and honestly I don't see it

Miami, Honolulu and NYC. Don’t hate me if

you’re not on the list, it was decided by the

going there in the future either. I

see those as a service. The

population-density of tattooed people.

selection process doesn't require

as much care as tattooing.

not to be a downer, but historically the


industry hasn’t been the most welcoming


it comes to change. It’s a vintage craft and,


though some of the practices are


(clunky websites, manual appointing


etc.), they seem to be working for


artists. Are you at all concerned about the


reluctance to change/adapt?


Oh, yes, absolutely. I wish I were kidding, but it

keeps me up at night. That’s the thing about

believing in change and, maybe more than that,

yourself. An industry can’t survive if it stays the

same decades at a time, and this outdated

process within the tattooing industry is in grave

need of a face lift.

The relationship you create with

someone who's creating permanent

art on your body is so special. The

idea that any part of that connectivity

is compromised because people don't

feel comfortable or understood is, to

me, unacceptable.

FUCKING NOT. These are not canvases we’re talking about, these are


If you're an artist who only tattoos lighter skin tones, stay the fuck away from


app. Not only will I not provide that option in the app, but I will never allow any


of discriminatory behavior like that on Tattd, ever. More than that, I will be a


voice ghting against that kind of behavior. Anyone who thinks avoiding


dark skin isn't racism is an absolute lunatic.


don't have that functionality in the app yet, but yes, eventually you will be able to


for female artists, artists of color, and artists who are part of the LGBTQ+


The relationship you create with someone who's creating permanent art


your body is so special. The idea that any part of that connectivity is compromised


This is a hard question, but in the words of Hov, ‘Brooklyn ‘til I die!’ So, I'd have to


with Biggie.


Tattoo artist Steve Te t of Ink Master once publicly stated that dark skin was not the

canvas for him. Will artists using Tattd have the option to set skin tone and texture


On that note, black and female artists tend to be underrepresented in the industry.

Will customers be able to speci cally request, for instance, a Black female artist?

because people don't feel comfortable or understood is, to me, unacceptable.

And, last but de nitely not least, Biggie or Tupac?

(Wrong answer, Laura)

Wal th


I recently had an idea

for an article. I was

scrolling through

random tattoo

Instagrams when I

stumbled upon a fairly

well-done Hitler

portrait (it was posted

on an artist’s

Instagram who

specializes in covering

racist/hateful tattoos).

Of the person who

received the tattoo, I

immediately thought

the obvious thought:

What a piece of shit.

My next thought,

though, was maybe

even more weighty:

Who the fuck would


tattoo that?

Tattoos are, after all, a privilege and not a right. An artist

can refuse any concept they disagree with and, on the

contrary, can agree to anything they see t. I contemplated

the responsibility of the artist in such a scenario; I

wondered if their compliance indicated the silent support

of whatever image they were inking; I asked myself, if they

tattooed it, do they believe in it? To me, the answer was

yes, they must.

I thought that was going to be my article. I was going to

interview a handful of artists I know and ask them “Are you

willing to tattoo whatever your client wants, even Hitler’s

face?” And all of the artists were going to say “Fuck no,”

and I was going to showcase how respectable tattoo artists

don’t participate in shit they don’t believe in or support. My

question, however, was met with mixed responses. Initially,

I was both dumbfounded and disappointed. I was caught

somewhere between what the fuck? and what now?

As I read through each artist’s reasoning, though, I felt the

article refashioning itself. I realized it wasn't about exing

the awless and uniform moral compasses of a few artists I

know. Rather, it’s about registering di ering perspectives

and navigating the rocky terrain of representation. I want

this survey to do nothing more than authentically explore a

longstanding curiosity of mine (and maybe yours, too): Are

artists—ones of all kinds—represented by the content of

their work? In what circumstance do one's own morals and

values go out the window?

Initially, I was ready to whip something together that

tapped into only one perspective. That would’ve been a

mistake. Instead, turn the page for ten.

10 Anonymous Tattoo

Artists Answer the Burning



Are you willing to tattoo

whatever your client wants,

even a portrait of Hitler?

“I will tattoo just

about anything

that isn’t hateful

or racist. I know

there are other

artists who can

do such tattoos

with zero

feelings about it,

but I can’t/won’t

have that on my

conscience. And

believe me, I’ve

turned down a

handful of Hitler

portraits in my

20 years as a

tattoo artist.”



artists are



by the

content of

their work,

not just the

quality. But

as far as

what I’m

willing to

tattoo, I’ll do

most stuff; a

tattoo is a

way for the

client to



3. "I personally draw the line at

super offensive just because I

know it will affect my money in

the future. I sometimes don’t

care, though. I’m not really

bothered by a lot of shit like

that unless it’s directed at me or

my family. With the power of

the media, a tattoo like that can

break you down to nothing.

Surprisingly, it can also lift you

up. These days in tattooing, the

door really swings both ways.

What used to be frowned upon

has gained more of a following

and is considered more

acceptable. For instance, if I did

a Hitler portrait and got heat

from my following, I’d also be

gaining the support of people

who are down for that type of

shit. These days, any attention

is good attention. Power is in

the numbers.”


“I wouldn’t be

down for


negative or

racist. We all

know who Hitler

is. But if they

wanted to cover

up something

like that, then

yes, I would be

glad to help.”


“I would say my

answer is a hard

‘no.’” (For some

reason, this

artist blocked

me after I asked

her to




"Not only will I

not tattoo

hateful things, it

even breaks


deeper: someth

ing not

contouring or

looking right on

the body, bad

artwork that

makes you look

like an amateur,

or someone too

young coming in

wanting their

hands or neck


without having

any other work

done. There’s

way too much

at risk and my

reputation as an

artist means

more to me

than that.”

“I’d probably be down. I do feel we

as artists have a responsibility, but

at the end of the day, I got bills to

pay. If someone wants to pay me

$1,500 to tattoo [something

offensive] on them, I’m probably

going to do it.”


“To me [racist tattoos]

seem like something you

would be forced to get in

prison if you wanted to

stay alive. I don’t see

people walking into a

shop in Long Beach,

California looking to get

a portrait of Hitler. I’m

not saying it can’t

happen, but it seems like

the people who get

those tattoos would

seek out someone who

specializes in that sort of

shit, like an uncle who

was just released from

prison doing jailhouse

tats in grandma’s

garage. I have turned

down gang tattoos in my

earlier days of tattooing

just because I didn’t

want to be the guy

elected to do the whole

gang’s hateful tattoos.

Even the Fuck the Cops

and ACAB tattoos seem

hateful to me. Like,

you’re really going to

feel that way when

you’re a 60-year-old

man? Chances are slim.

But that reaper on your

arm will still be relevant

and look just as cool as it

did when you got it. Is it

wrong that I look at

tattooing as an art form

and not a political form?

I don’t really care. I’m in

it to make cool tattoos

on the people who trust

me to make them.”



"I can’t speak for the industry as

a whole, but I personally feel

there are certain symbols or

ideas that I don’t stand by and

will not tattoo. I feel as a

tattooer, I have a responsibility

and understanding to uphold.

Whatever I tattoo on someone

represents me in some way, so

I’m not going to glorify

something that I don’t feel is

right. To answer your question:

No, I would not tattoo Hitler’s

face on someone because I know

exactly what Hitler represents.”


“I’ve got a nuanced opinion on it. I lean

towards doing whatever, but have my

own personal boundaries and stu I’d

probably pass on. I guess it depends

on the client and the reason. Before I

actually tattooed, I thought I wouldn’t

tattoo anything racist, satanic or

hateful, but I didn’t actually know why.

I really just thought it was what you

were supposed to say. Then I was

asked to tattoo a burning church on a

friend who also tattoos. This friend

was into Satan, but had tattooed

religious imagery on me before. I

thought about how bummed I would

have been if he had refused to do my

tattoo because his religious views

were di erent than mine. I realized

how unfair, closed-minded and

pretentious my position was. Who am

I to judge what is acceptable or not to

tattoo on someone? Shane Enholm

explained this in a video one time. He

was talking about this relatively new

idea that you are represented by what

you tattoo on people. He said he did a

gay pride, a brown pride, and a white

pride tattoo all in the same week. He

asked the question then, 'which am I?'

The answer, of course, was none.

Now, with all that said, luckily no one

asks me to tattoo anything like that. I

feel it depends on the person and the

intention behind the tattoo. It’s a case

by case basis with me. I am not called

to judge, simply to love and tattoo. To

the Hitler portrait part, it depends. If it

was on some dumb douche who was

like, 'Yeah, I hate the Jews,' I’d

probably have to pass. But if It was on

someone who was just into the taboo

or history of it, I’d probably be more

open. Like, is it a sleeve of dictator

portraits and evil people? Or is it some

guy who loves Hitler because of what

he did?”


Tattoo by Alex Coulter


Progress of an Artist


A Brief Interview with


I’m always curious about the concept of

progress, especially in the tattoo industry.

I’d imagine it’s an odd thing having your

growth recorded on the skin and limbs of

others — these walking, and maybe

mortifying, reminders of how far you’ve

come. My right leg happens to be riddled

with some of Josh’s earlier work: a

traditional girl head, a dagger, some roses.

None of it’s particularly terrible (I've

thankfully seen worse), but when placed

side by side with his most recent pieces, the

progress he’s made is borderline

unbelievable; the tattoos seem as if done by

a different artist altogether. Every time I

glance down at the faded lavender flowers

curving over my shin or the "Sailor Beware"

script that has bled and blurred beyond

recognition, I wonder if Josh wishes I'd stop

wearing shorts out in public.

When and why

did you start


I started

tattooing in

2012, when I

was 22 years

old. I grew up

writing graffiti; I

was always

drawing on


School wasn’t

my thing, and I

just wanted to

make a career

out of

something I

love, so I

sought out an


When you first

started, what style

did you lean

toward? Why?

When I first


tattooing, the

shop I was

apprenticing at

focused on a lot

of Filipino tribal

— heavy line

work, all black,

no shading. It

was their roots.

I can’t say I

leaned towards

it because it

was just

something I was

being taught. I

wanted to soak

up everything I

could and any

advice that

would help

build me as an


You do almost

exclusively black &

gray realism now.

What changed?

It’s a huge

change. I just


focusing more

on the detailbased

application of a

tattoo and

trying to make


come to life

rather than

remain flat.




comparing a

tattoo to your

reference and

being satisfied

with the end


Your work has

improved like crazy. To

what do you attribute

your progress?

I’d say everyone I’ve

surrounded myself

with and had the

chance to work

alongside. That’s the

best part about

[tattooing], the

inspiration is

constantly flowing. I

think the shop I work

at now, Skanvas

Tattoo, has had the

biggest influence on

my work, though.

They’re all black and

gray artists, and we

push each other

daily to improve

without even

knowing it. I want to

thank the guys I

work with, for sure.

How do you feel

about your old


When you see your

older work, does it

bother you? Do you

wish you could

improve upon it?

Do you have

any regrets

when it comes

to tattooing?

One area of

tattooing you

want to continue

working on…

[Laughs] The


question. I

mean, it

I do see some

pieces and

think, like,

man, it would

What is

there to

regret? I

love my

I’m always

trying to

make things

smoother as


have been

job; every

far as

isn’t going to

be mind-

cool if I added

this or made

that part

day I get to



and healing.

A beautifully

blowing, but

that’s what


anyone as an



bigger and so

on. To me, a

piece is never

fully finished,


There’s always



new and

meet cool

people. If I

were to


anything, I

healed tattoo

is a job well

done. But I

think there’s

always room



in every


perfect, and I

try not to

you can do to

make it


guess it

would be

not starting

aspect of

tattooing; it

never really


forget where


I came from.








In 2016, “punk pinup” Christine

Fury started a print-only pinup

magazine à la Playboy—only this

magazine wouldn’t have any

articles or interviews, no

columns or critiques. This

magazine wouldn’t display

anything but beautiful

undressed women posing in

absurdly-themed sets and

exaggerated situations. For our

purposes, imagine Foxxy

Cleopatra, an Austin Powers

fembot, and The Sandlot’s

Wendy Pe ercorn swaggering

onto the set of Kill Bill. The result

would be Camp Out.

The website calls it “vintageinspired

smut,” an intentional

contradiction that seems quite

pleased with itself. Christine

presses pleasure against

conservative glass, posing her

pinups innocently — almost

prudishly — as if their panties

happen to be accidentally

around their ankles. The mag’s

logo features a basic, burlap tent

split down the middle by a pair

of emerging bare breasts, the

motto “Where it’s all out there”

further solidifying the

publication’s prowess.

Since its inception, Camp

Out has featured

handfuls of well-known,

oiled-up asses—including

The Great Bambino

herself, Christy Mack.

But the magnitude of the

magazine is made all the

more impressive by

Fury’s experience — none

at all. She and her tiny

team head-up the

operation, all while

Christine chases both her

tail and a toddler. It goes

without saying — but I’m

going to anyway —

Christine Fury is a busy

woman (I believe

“swamped” was the word

she used). That said, I

tailored this miniinterrogation


t her

lifestyle. Flip the page for

15 rapid- re questions

Art by Candy Weil

with Christine Fury.

Where are you from?

Redlands, California. I gr

area, from Big Bear down.

How did you end up in Lon

My sister had a boyfriend

really into Sublime, and h

Long Beach [laughs]. She m

with him right around t

gotten in a brutal car acc

out of the hospital for abou

was patched up enough

front teeth on a ipper, I h

her couch with my two cat

Is Christine Fury your rea

just a big Stephen King f

Christine in Stephen King

was a 1958 Plymouth Fury)

My Dad was a huge Ste

always told me I was name

How did Camp Out Magazin

I was standing in the sho

wanted to start a nudie ma

How did you come up wi


It’s a play on words. All pin

in the magazine everythin

ew up all over that

g Beach?

at the time that was

wanted to move to

oved to Long Beach

he time that I had

ident. I was in and

t a year, and once I

and had my three

eaded to go live on


l name or are you

an? (The killer car

’s 1983 novel/movie

phen King fan. He

d after the car.

e come about?

wer and decided I

gazine [laughs].

th the name Camp

up is so campy and

g is out there.

Photos by Shannon Brooke

Biggest in uence?

All things vintage pulp culture.

Whats a typical day like as a mom and mag owner?

It’s truly a shit show [laughs]. Being a mom to a toddler, I

am constantly learning as I go. Being a business owner

with no previous magazine experience, I am constantly

learning as I go. Mix all that together with a global

pandemic, preschool shut downs, not being able to

work for three and a half months, and the USPS being

deeply e ected, and out pops a complete circus [laughs].

Your husband is a tattoo artist. How, if at all, does he

contribute to the mag?

He helps a ton! He paints almost all the set backdrops

and turns my terrible stick- gure drawings into actual

shirt designs. Plus, he morally supports me daily as I’m

chasing my tail to catch up.

Would you rather talk to animals or talk to the dead?

Truthfully, some of the most important people in our

lives have passed, so I’m not sure! I would really really

want to talk to my dad, but then all that leads to is

wanting them physically here. So animals, [I guess].

Am I trippin’, or did I see a picture of you with no front


See question #2 [laughs].

Photo by Jennifer Garcia

Tits or ass?

Depends on who I am looking at.

To what do you attribute Camp Out’s success?

I really put my all into it, like everything I got. I respect

and value my team, the models, publishers, and

printers that I work with. I focus on their time and all

their di

erent personalities. With all of us trying our

best to make sure everyone is as happy as they can be,

we put out the best work possible.

How important to you is diversity and representation

in your mag?

Extremely important. I want everyone to be able to see

a bit of themselves in the magazine.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?

I’ve weirdly loved something about all the jobs I’ve had!

From being an umpire, to selling pies at Marie

Calendars, from being a Hooter girl, to bartending in

dive bars, they’ve all had rad things about them.

What sage wisdom would you o

er to anyone starting

their own biz, mag, etc.?

Roll the dice and try! You never know what will happen

if you don’t try. You might fail, but fuck it. At least you



Take a look at any tattoo

what you see is a high-con

of pallid limbs and deeply

each square satisfying th

uniformity not theme.

That’s because dark s

stitching. It is often deem

work with, and when th

the resulting work is oft

than showcased —

led a

doesn’t pop” pile. Some a

tattoo the textured terrai

than attempt to put ink in

Enter body-art broker M

artist & two-time Ink Mast

Rose Fergerstrom. The

chiseling away at the mis

tattooing dark skin, pa

constructing a schoolhou

clients alike via


I spoke with them both

page, discrimination in th

the two plan to ensure tha

Photo by Jason Edward

precedence over equality.

Dar Ski

Instagram and I bet

trast quilt made up

saturated images,

e pattern through

kin disrupts the

ed “too di

cult” to

e task is taken on,

en archived rather

way in the “it just

rtists would sooner

n of mutilated skin

to melanated limbs.

alka X and tattoo

er contestant Angel

two have been

onceptions around

ving a path and

se for artists and



about the shared

e industry and how

t “pop” stops taking



Photo by Jessica White Robinson

When and how did the idea

come about?

Malka X: Angel is the mast

She started it way before I jo

started to work together, th

become more clear everyda

for community, education a

Angel Rose: I started this

technical knowledge of ta

recognition on network tele

troubled me day in and day

gaping hole in my knowle

came to working with darke

As an artist in the middle

2020, it was hard for me to

really hard, scrutinizing loo

clinging to an embarrassing

of racism. I had been told m

most tattooers I know hea

However, in my admittedly

dark skin, I found it to be

di erence. I sat with myself

to nd that the industry

di cult and intimidating to


As I got more comfortab

concluded that the stigm

entirely a myth. I [felt] that

complacent. I am sometim

and crippled by not know

platform. Suddenly, it all b

Be rid of this myth. And 2.

how to work with dark skin

the sad underrepresentatio

world. It’s a hefty set of g

somewhere. And so, @Dark

for @DarkSkinTattooTips

ermind behind this page.

ined the team. Since we’ve

e vision for this page has

y. We want it to be a place

nd conversation.

page because despite my

ttooing, and despite my

vision and social media, it

out that I had a massive,

dge of tattooing when it

r skin.

of the revolution that is

see where I could make a

for a long time and took a

k at the tattoo world only

I am a part of was still

and unacceptable amount

y entire career that it was

work with dark skin, and

rd the same exact thing.

limited experience with

less intimidating than I

le with it, I eventually

a behind dark skin was

I couldn’t stand by and be

es extremely intimidated

ing what to do with my

ecame clear. We need to 1.

Start teaching each other

to eventually 3. Overcome

of dark skin in the tattoo

oals but we had to start

SkinTattooTips was born.

How and why did the two of you link up?

Malka X: The funny thing is, I had been trying to get in contact with

Angel way before we spoke about @DarkSkinTattooTips. I’m a selfproclaimed

body-art broker who runs a tattoo referral service. I had a

client wanting some black and grey work done and I immediately

thought of Angel. When I emailed her, however, I got a reply from her

assistant saying she was completely booked! Fast forward to a few

months ago when I wrote @DarkSkinTattoo to inquire about who ran it

— it’s very important to know when dealing with conversations around

race and skin — and to my surprise, it was her!

Angel Rose: X reached out to me via @DarkSkinTattooTips. I was very

excited to hear from her because, although I knew that I was merely

sharing information, I could only speak from the point of view of an

artist wanting to learn. I felt that X was the perfect person to ll the gaps

I could not ll when it came to rst-hand experiences of being a POC in

the tattoo world. After our rst phone call, I was extremely impressed

with her knowledge of tattooing and the tattoo industry and I couldn’t be

more happy to be working in tandem with her now.

What do you hope comes from the Instagram? What are your intentions?

What’s next?

Malka X: I honestly just want all the dumb shit people say about tattooing

darker skin to stop. But seriously, besides that I think that this page will

help to break down ridiculous stereotypes that prevent everyone from

getting quality tattoo work. I hope this page will inspire artists to do

more research and educate themselves on new and improved ways to

tattoo darker-skinned clients. Angel and I have toyed around with the

idea of taking the page to conventions so I think a piece of literature or

@DarkSkinTattooTips merchandise might be next!

Angel Rose: I’m going to echo X here, but I will add that we both share a

vision of helping the tattoo world hold itself to a very high standard. We

both are very passionate about giving tattooers and tattoo collectors the

tools they need to come out with the highest quality tattooing

experience possible. The purpose of this page is to educate, and in doing

so I think we will see change in the industry.

What has your experience been in the industry in terms of dark-skin

discrimination? Have either of you experienced it in the industry rsthand?

Malka X: [Laughs] Oh, sorry. I just laugh because I have experienced

discrimination is so many di erent avenues. As a collector, I get told what I

can and cannot get without the artist even being willing to explain or

explore other options. As a tattoo model and pageant queen, I get overtly and

covertly looked over by convention owners, artists and tattoo supply

manufacturers for the lighter skinned models or pageant queens. As a bodyart

broker, I have experienced people not willing to pay my rate or telling

me that I don’t know how to consult them because my skin is darker. I

would like to think that in 2020 we can admit that racism, bias and

prejudice exists in all areas of life — including the tattoo industry.

Angel Rose: Here’s the worst part, and part of the reason I can see this

project’s importance — I am an o ender, too. While learning to tattoo, I

learned to desaturate my photos and to talk to dark-skinned clients a certain

way. It took me a few years of tattooing before I realized that I shouldn’t be

doing any of that. I still nd heavily edited photos of my tattoos from earlier

in my career and think back to times where I could have done better. I

expect better from myself in so many aspects of my life, and I’m so

embarrassed to admit that I was afraid to question these strange archaic,

racist practices. I couldn’t be more glad that I woke up from that bullshit.

What are some of the common misconceptions about tattooing dark skin?

Malka X: People with dark skin cannot get color. Black ink is our only option.

Angel Rose: From a tattooer’s standpoint, the general misconception is that

it is di cult to work with dark skin. We commonly tell clients that they

can’t get what they want because it won’t look the way our white-washed

tattoo-artist brains think it should look. The thing is, there should be no ego

in tattooing. If a client wants something, who are we to tell them that it

won’t look good just because it doesn’t match the photos in the magazines?

Who are we to withhold certain styles of tattooing from them just because it

won’t photograph the same and look picturesque in our portfolio? Yikes

people, seriously. Let’s be better. There is a way to approach all kinds of skin

and it takes a certain amount of humility to remove yourself from the

equation to gure out what the client’s needs really are. If we can do full

color cover ups of black-as-fuck '90s tribal, then we can de nitely work with

a non-Caucasian skin tone.

What are the most important tips you’d give to both artists tattooing

dark skin and clients with dark skin?

Malka X: Just like you would want your client to educate themselves

and do their research before they sit in your chair, make sure you do

them the same favor. Listen rst, then provide your advice! But don't do

it in such a way that makes the client feel as though their power is

being taken. Avoid absolutes like “always” or “never.” The world

changes everyday and so does the range of options darker skin clients

have when it comes to tattoos. The only thing I would be careful of is

how high you run your tattoo machine — people of color sometimes

have softer skin and you can easily burn them or cause healing issues if

you run your machine too high.

Angel Rose: The most important thing, as with any tattoo consultation

is that the artist and the client are both eager to nd common ground.

As much as I preach that tattooers should be able to handle anything —

there are limits to tattooing no matter what. Clients, listen to your

artist. Artists, listen to your clients. Further than that, I like to suggest

that people explore fun ways to punch in a ton of contrast into their

tattoos simply because that’s how I like to do tattoos and I think it looks

great on any skin tone! Also, X is right about the texture of dark skin. It

tends to be much much softer and easier to scar, so starting o slow

and being a little more gentle will bene t a tattoo artist greatly with

their process. I personally really love tattooing dark skin, because the

ink tends to saturate with very little e ort and one pass is usually more

than enough to make it shine.

This idea that a tattoo needs to “pop” in order to be well done is popular

in the industry, and puts whiter skin on a pedestal. What are your

individual thoughts on that notion? How can we ensure that “pop”

doesn’t take precedence over equality?

Malka X: Whew! Well, I’m glad you said it. The issue is simply how we

have decided to score what a well-done tattoo looks like. Tattooing in

the 1840s didn’t include people of color because slavery wasn’t

abolished until 1865! So, we were never a part of the conversation. I

think that if we consider “pop” to only include bright color then we are

perpetuating a non-inclusive (whispers: racist) way of thinking. Maybe

we can redesign the score sheet! Let's make pop mean: clean lines,

smooth shading, sharp design, etc.

Angel Rose: This is interesting to unpack because I can’t

really think of any reason why a tattoo needs to fucking

jump o the skin in order to look good. Sure, bright colors

and dark blacks are very fun to look at, but I have also seen

beautiful very low contrast pieces that just accentuate the

human form perfectly. You don’t have to shout to be

e ective. Sometimes a whisper means so much more. It’s a

matter of adjusting our perspective.

I often reference this quote from Steve Te t of Ink Master

wherein he states “[dark skin] is not the canvas for me.” Do

you think it should be the artist’s right to refuse a tattoo

based on skin color?

Malka X: Yes! Please refuse me if you cannot honor me! I

don’t want you to fuck my skin up. However, I also think

that means you cannot be considered one of the greats. If

you want that title, you must work for it, which also means

educating yourself on things you don’t know about and

improving your skill around things you have told yourself

you cannot do!

Angel Rose: Phew! Someone has to say these things. Part of

my reason for wanting to shed light on this is that I did

participate in Ink Master and I do believe that if any artist

coming out of that show wants to live up to their

recognition, they need to hold themselves to a certain

standard. Being on TV never taught me how to tattoo black

folks. Being on TV never inherently made me a better

tattooer than anyone else. All being on TV ever did was

make me feel like I needed to step my shit up. And so, to put

it bluntly — step your shit up or step the fuck down. Being a

“master” of your craft requires constant growth and

change and Ink Master title or not, that’s what I’m going to

strive for.

What are your thoughts on artists wh

darker skin?

Malka X: Honestly, unless you have a u

blind or allergic to darker skin, I look a

tattooing darker skin as insecure an

citizen of this world — I consider mys

I'm not opposed to trying new things

new ideas! If you're not down for just

your world.

Angel Rose: I think this comes from fe

it’s hateful and I’d start a bar ght over

so holy that they don’t need to even th

lot of cases, I think that artists might w

themselves to succumb to the narrati

think that breaking out of that narrati

perhaps they are insecure in their abili

people with the tools to be better. We

who have overcome that fear, and the

to try out new techniques on their dar

about. One tattoo at a time, I hope to era

There are a lot of dark-skinned celeb

attribute that to?

Malka X: Don’t get me started! Yo, have

It hurts my heart! That’s for Kobe, ma

only thing to blame is a lack of educati

same way! Period. If an artist hasn't g

their license suspended until they take

Angel Rose: Okay, rst of all, X, I love

absolutely right, a lack of education fr

fault here. This is why putting photos

skin out into the tattoo world is so im

don’t know. So, let’s show them.

o refuse to tattoo or avoid tattooing

nique situation or reason like being

t artists who refuse to tattoo or avoid

d complacent. Just as a regular-ass

elf a life-long learner! Which means

or expanding my knowledge around

that, something has got to be o in

ar a lot of the time. Sure, sometimes

it any day to those who think they’re

ink about being inclusive. But — in a

ant to be inclusive, but have allowed

ve that has told them they can’t be. I

ve can be extremely intimidating and

ties. This is why it’s important to arm

have received messages from artists

y come to us feeling very empowered

k-skinned clients! That’s what it’s all

se that fear.

rities with poor work. What do you

you seen LeBron’s Kobe tribute tattoo?

! Okay, woosah! I honestly think the

on. You cannot tattoo everyone in the

ured that out by now, they may need

a class.

you so much. Secondly, I think she’s

om both the client and the artist is at

of stunning, beautiful work on dark

portant. People can’t know what they

I’m sure there are artists, and even clients, out there who

are still staunch in their belief that tattoos are for light

skin only. That said, has the project been met with any

resistance or backlash? Praise and support?

Malka X: We have been met with so much love and

support! I absolutely love our followers. They are willing

to share information, slow to judge others, they engage in

di cult discussions and no one takes anything personal. I

think everyone who follows us understands that this is a

community, which means it’s a place for support and


Angel Rose: I did have a few really agitating responses to

my o cial announcement of creating the page. Some

people said that “black folks just need to accept that

tattoos don’t look as good on them,” and one guy actually

tried to launch into a very heated debate with me about

why black people are more racist than white people

(insert mind-blown emoji here). This is one of the things

that makes this project emotionally taxing, because no

matter what type of change you try to make, you will

always be met with resistance. For all the beautiful

wonderful support we get, those few ignorant comments

keep me up at night. I wish I could help them see what a

beautiful movement we are all a part of. It reminds me

how much we have yet to change, but simultaneously,

that makes our positive responses mean so much more.

And we have gotten a lot of positive response. It’s honestly

more than I could have ever asked for.


Art by Joshua Giovanni

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