These Tattoos Are Anti-racist: Ogechi Makes Dark-skin Tattoos More Accessible

Posted by Annie N. in Life Style On 22nd July 2021
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Tattoo artist Ogechi was turned away from a tattoo parlour for having skin that was too dark to tattoo. That lead them down a path where they not only managed to create dark-skin friendly tattoo for themselves but also for their community.

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Hannah Place walked into a London tattoo parlour at the age of 19 only be to told their skin was too dark to be tattooed on.

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A decision that took months in the making was suddenly made for them at the door of the tattoo parlour.

The studio which was reputable told them that ink wouldn’t translate well onto their skin.

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After being dejected, Place, now known by their moniker Ogechi went down the research rabbit hole to see just how far the limitations on tattoo ink went.

Now running a Queer and Black friendly tattoo parlour, Ogechi’s pay as you can business welcomes everyone but specializes in darker skin.

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It took four years from that fateful day to return to another studio. After their first tattoo, however, they took on all personal tattoo duties on themself.

This incident which happened in the western part of the world was a departure from the actual indigenous and Egyptian origins of tattooing. Samoans and other dark-skinned cultures had been tattooing as a rite of passage for centuries before it made its way to the western world.

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According to Ogechi, western tattoo practices favoured a certain look, specifically, “a gothic look that requires very white skin and rock-style black ink”,

Another tattoo artist Minkx Doll said,

“I didn’t receive training in different skin tones – that doesn't happen in tattooing, from what I’ve seen, entering the industry. There is this idea that white skin is default and Black and brown skin is a specialist subject area – a lot like the approach to hair and beauty.”

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Ogechi along with other tattoo artists like Nish Rowe and Minkx Doll is working on new training methods that include different shades of synthetic skin for practice.

For Ogechi, owning this movement and finding power in art is an expression of their queer identity, “If you think about any form of identity which people experience objectification or oppression around, and then you go, ‘Yeah, this is my body, this is me,’ I'm showing to myself and to everyone around me that it's mine.”

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That’s why they also offer the pay-as-you-can service where the client decides the price of their work.

“I tattoo for joy. I say this continuously, but it is an honour to be putting my artwork on someone's body. It's gonna be with them every day of their entire life, and there’s no other art form where that’s the case. It shouldn’t be inaccessible for anyone.”

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