Racism in the Tattoo Industry: The Skin Tone Issue

Tattoos were created by black people, yet today artists sometimes refuse to tattoo dark skin. Fumble calls it out 

Tattoos are pretty common these days, with around a fifth of Brits rocking some sweet tattoos. This growing popularity makes sense – tattoos are a powerful and creative way to express ourselves. They often symbolise the things in our lives that we love, or perhaps we just like the design on our bod. That’s cool too.

Yet, sometimes the tattoo industry can be racist, and we need to talk about it.

For white people, getting a tattoo is often a matter of choosing a design and saving those pennies (well, more like pounds) before hitting the tattoo shop and getting inked.

By contrast, people of colour often face obstacles when they arrive at a tattoo studio and the artist is reluctant, or even refuses, to tattoo their chosen design.

The “Skin Tone Issue”

You may have heard of the “skin tone issue,” which claims tattooing darker skin is harder, and doesn’t look as good. Even black tattoo artists may buy into this. But this is completely false.


🙌 You can tattoo bright colours on black skin AND it looks great.

🙌 Dark designs WILL show up on a person of colour’s skin AND look incredible.

And if you still don’t believe me, here’s the proof that tattoos can look amazing on black skin.

Next Steps

The deal is that we all have different types of skin, which require different techniques in order to make a tattoo look amazing. Tattoo artists shouldn’t skin shame black people and refuse to ink their skin because they think it won’t look good.

Instead, they need to develop new skills and techniques to accommodate the diversity of skin tones. We know it’s possible, and also looks amazing.

We also need to see tattoo portfolios filled with tattoos on a variety of skin tones, not just on white people. That also includes people with freckles and moles, which are also viewed as harder to tattoo. You need to know what it will look like on your skin.

Seems obvious, right?

If you are black and considering getting a tattoo, but are concerned that it won’t look good, don’t let it put you off.  If you go to a studio and receive the whole “skin tone issue”, be sure to call that person out.

There are tattoo artists out there who will ink all types of skins, it just takes a little more time and patience to find them. It’s your body and if you want a tattoo, make sure you get it.

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