Imani Brown Tuskegee Airmen Tattoo
One of the oldest and most prevalent cultural practices across the globe, tattooing has become increasingly popular in the African-American community. Yet while this group has demonstrated a growing affinity for receiving tattoos, the number of licensed black artists practicing the profession is much smaller by comparison. Add gender to the mix, and the number dwindles even further.
“I want to believe there are more of us [women], but so far, there are very, very few,” African-American tattoo artist Imani K. Brown, 32, told theGrio. ”I know about two in Detroit. That’s it.” Being a black tattoo professional has placed the artist in a strange caste. “People think we’re on the darker side of life,” said Brown, referring to misconceptions about her line of work. ”That we’re all rockstars and worship the devil.”
Yet, Brown is a trained artist who hails from Washington D.C.’s Pinz-N-Needlez Tattoo, one of the few black-owned and operated shops in the country. To add further distinction, she is documented as only the second licensed black female tattoo artist in America. She recently learned of the first accredited black female artist, 66-year-old Jacci Gresham of New Orleans, upon watching the new documentary Color Outside The Lines, by black tattoo artist Miya Bailey and filmmaker Artemus Jenkins. Brown is also featured in the film.