Brian Winston bought his first tattoo gun in 2008. After learning how to make tattoos, Brian Winston went to Anderson’s best tattoo shop and took some of the people with him to demonstrate his skills to help get hired.
With out glancing at the art, the store owner looked Winston up and down and mentioned, “Bro, you’re Black. We ain’t never seen a Black tattoo artist before.”
Winston decided to open Studio 77 instead of working for another person. This was to ensure that his artists and apprentices wouldn’t be in similar situations.
National Tattoo Day is July 17. This holiday recognizes the historical and cultural importance of tattooing. More creatives are considering tattooing as an option because of the increasing popularity of Black tattoo businesses and artists. Black tattoo artists have a lot of experience tattooing dark skin.
Studio 77’s artists are often young. It’s because they’re easier to teach, Winston mentioned. The apprenticeships are completely free and include tattooing. He also teaches how to set aside money for retirement and create plans to ensure a bright future.
“I really like the people that work right here,” Winston mentioned. “I want to see them be successful.”
The apprenticeships are not required, but the artist must work for Studio 77 at least one year in order to gain a greater understanding of the tattoo industry.
Nyderia Harris was the first apprentice at Studio 77 when she started in August 2020. Although she recently finished college, Harris was unable to find a job as an artist’s assistant. Winston, Winston’s cousin inspired her to start tattooing.
“I kept taking on more and more complicated projects and nailing them,” she mentioned. “I was patient and dedicated to making it happen, and I made it happen.”
Harris, a Black woman in the tattoo business, said it was tough for her because of how she looked. Harris isn’t a prolific tattoo artist, so people aren’t convinced she’s good enough.
She enjoys her job at Studio 77, and thinks the store provides a pleasant environment for artists as well as customers.
“It’s a whole ‘nother vibe right here, and that’s why I love it,” Harris mentioned. “It’s like a family.”
Precious Young is the founder of Rated Art Tattoo Studio. She has been a tattoo artist for over ten years and she takes great care of her artists because of all of the difficulties that she had to face early on in her career. Her mentor suggested to her that she dress more femininely to become a female tattoo artist during her 2006 apprenticeship.
“I kind of try to look after my artists,” she mentioned. “What do I’ve to do to make sure my artists don’t go through what I went through?”
Young lived on the streets until she got her first tattoo. Young was inspired by these challenges to start her shop in 2019.
For those interested in becoming a tattoo artist, Young advises them to “try not to get deterred” by the lack of representation in the business. This encourages other Black tattoo artists to follow their lead. Just “go for it,” she mentioned.
Winston additionally encourages those with talent to turn into tattoo artists because not only is it a way to be creative, but it’s also a way to create financial stability.
“This industry can change your life,” Winston mentioned. “You just have to get your head into it.”
Abriana Herron is the staff writer. Follow her Twitter account @Abri_onyai