Genie of the West

Raised tattoos inevitable for someone as black as me? So frustrating.

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It's been like 3 months since I got my lower arm worked on and parts of my tattoo are raised. This has happened a bit on another tattoo I have. I don't think it's wholly the artists because the artists I go to are pretty good I think the problem is my skin itself. Sure maybe a lighter hand could help but the thing is my tattoos only raise on a specific part of my arm. The same exact artists working on a different part of my arm give me great results. I'm black as fuck with super dark skin and when I scar, my scars rise up. The two tattoos I have that have some parts that are slightly raised are only raised on the super dark parts on the outside of my arm. The insides of my arm, where my skin is significantly lighter, my tattoos look and heal just fine. Also I have gotten work done on my chest that looks fine. It seems like only these specific spots on my body where my skin is darkest, has these issues. This west African blood just won't accept the ink. I am darker than most black people. Don't think someone can tattoo dark skin because they've done a few black people. I mean extremely dark skin tones not just someone who identifies as African-American. My mom is black and she's got a lighter skin tone than most Central Americans and Southeast Asians/Indians. I am extremely dark however, like my father.

So now I'm not sure what to do. It's hard enough to try to get work done by quality artists but now I have to find quality artists that specialize or are well versed in doing dark skin? Seems like a big ass fucking pain. Also I had a couple artists in mind that I wanted for their talent in black and gray work. Pretty well known and famous artists. But now I don't know if I can trust even the best artists because they're probably used to working on white/light skin... I mean with all the consideration that has to be taken into account when planning a design, choosing a style, picking an artist, etc, this is just an additional huge headache.

Short rant time. You light skinned people have no idea how lucky you are when it comes to tattoos. Not only is your work more noticeable at any distance but you guys can get pretty much any colors you want, any style you want, and all your ink pops because of the easy contrast, and you don't have to worry about raised tattoos unless your artist is a dolt! For example I could never get most American traditional or Japanese work because I'm so dark I'm pretty much limited to black and gray and those styles depend on use of color to make the pieces come to life. And even when lighter people do get black and gray work, it really pops and looks good because of contrast. So not only are your color options better but your black and gray looks better too. I've got skin envy about that. I've talked to a tattoo artist friend and she said dark skin is really easy to fuck up and it is very difficult to tattoo black people and she sees tattoo artists fuck up tattoos on dark skin regularly. I always talk to my artists about how comfortable and experienced they are with dark skin because even experienced tattoo artists have trouble with super dark skin.

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There are Black tattooers in most cities, and I'd think one of themn could speak to these issues more concisely than a White tattooer, simply out of a better understanding of their own skin.

I have single-needle tattooed more than a few Blacks, even some plum-black brothers, and never really had a problem with scarring or more swelling than a White would have with a comparable tattoo.

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I can't speak for tattooing black people. However, in regards to your concern about your tattoos, most tattoos raise up after time. I doubt it's your skin since every one of all skin types experiences this. I find some of my tattoos in specific spots will raise up when it's extremely warm out. No rhyme or reason to it, just happens.

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I can't speak for tattooing black people. However, in regards to your concern about your tattoos, most tattoos raise up after time. I doubt it's your skin since every one of all skin types experiences this. I find some of my tattoos in specific spots will raise up when it's extremely warm out. No rhyme or reason to it, just happens.

That's a little reassuring. I posted this on reddit and got a similar answer to yours as well. Now that I'm already planning my second sleeve I must be getting paranoid!

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I'll second what @HaydenRose says about tattoos raising up. I'm pale and I have a tattoo that's around a year and a half old that has always had raised bits. Some areas of it are nearly always raised, some raise up when it's hot out, if I'm dehydrated, etc. It's a great tattoo, the guy who did it is a great tattooer, and I'm fine with it even if the raised parts never totally settle in and sit flat, but yeah, just to say that it's not necessarily either because of the tattooers you go to or because of your skin.

There's a couple of threads here about this, seems like plenty of people experience it, and that nobody has a sure answer about what causes it:

http://www.lastsparrowtattoo.com/forum/tattoo-after-care/558-tattoo-outline-raised.html

http://www.lastsparrowtattoo.com/forum/tattoo-after-care/2887-tattoo-scars.html

http://www.lastsparrowtattoo.com/forum/general-tattoo-discussion/2448-does-happen-anyone-else.html

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Genie of the west-- You say that your tattoos raise up where your skin is the darkest, I think this may be because this is the part of your body that is exposed to the sun more often- perhaps? Over the years I have seen my own tattoos, as well as many of my clients tattoos raise up- could be the heat, the sun, irritation etc.

But there are specific concerns when tattooing very dark skin.So you are not being paranoid.

The tattoo does not lay on top of your skin, but below it- so the appearance of your tattoo is directly related to the color of your skin. Imagine any tattoo on a pale leg, then think of that tattoo with a tan stocking over it,coffee colored, brown and then finally black. It is the same with a tattoo, first applied and then when the skin grows over it.

Unfortunately some tattooers make the mistake of applying lighter pigments to darker skin tones. Very often when the tattoo heals it is barely visible. Also many darker skin tones, of all types, are prone to keloid scarring. The formation of raised excessive scarring.

My advice to anyone with very, very dark skin is to choose larger, more open, simplified designs with strong bold outlines vs. detailed, convoluted over shaded designs.

Good luck

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As someone with damn near transparent white skin I can say that my tattoos are raised to the touch normally and sometimes can get visibly raised. Depending though you might be getting keloids especially if you say your scars generally raise up. I'd Google it to see if it is making sense to you.

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Genie of the west-- You say that your tattoos raise up where your skin is the darkest, I think this may be because this is the part of your body that is exposed to the sun more often- perhaps? Over the years I have seen my own tattoos, as well as many of my clients tattoos raise up- could be the heat, the sun, irritation etc.

But there are specific concerns when tattooing very dark skin.So you are not being paranoid.

The tattoo does not lay on top of your skin, but below it- so the appearance of your tattoo is directly related to the color of your skin. Imagine any tattoo on a pale leg, then think of that tattoo with a tan stocking over it,coffee colored, brown and then finally black. It is the same with a tattoo, first applied and then when the skin grows over it.

Unfortunately some tattooers make the mistake of applying lighter pigments to darker skin tones. Very often when the tattoo heals it is barely visible. Also many darker skin tones, of all types, are prone to keloid scarring. The formation of raised excessive scarring.

My advice to anyone with very, very dark skin is to choose larger, more open, simplified designs with strong bold outlines vs. detailed, convoluted over shaded designs.

Good luck

I'm just now learning this after doing an entire sleeve of black and gray fine line. From now on I'll look to get stronger bolder pieces so I don't have to worry about the lack of contrast. It took me a while to figure it out because my chest pieces look fucking great. My skin is a bit lighter there and not as exposed to the sun. But my arms are really dark and when I got my sleeve started I noticed it wasn't a coincidence.

How do you suggest I handle the shading for my next pieces? I mean it's not like I can get color so black and gray is what I'm stuck with. Should I avoid black and gray fine line tattoos completely or just pick big designs with minimal details? Perhaps black and gray in a more traditional style?

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Man, get a smaller piece on your leg, or where it isn't as noticeable. Experiment with some color. I've known some brother's do good with red, some with orange or yellow...see what it looks like, and if you like it, hey, there you go.

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Yes Genie of the West, completely avoid black and gray fine line tattoos with lots of little details. Yes, just go for larger, distinctly shaped designs.

If on the scale of white to black ,white being 1 and black being 10, your skin color is 8 and above--- I would not get any gray-just black.

If your skin on different areas of your body is lighter, say a 6 - 7- then a brighter red might work or a blue. But that depends on what undertones your skin has--- reddish would tend to then cancel out the red etc.

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Yes Genie of the West, completely avoid black and gray fine line tattoos with lots of little details. Yes, just go for larger, distinctly shaped designs.

If on the scale of white to black ,white being 1 and black being 10, your skin color is 8 and above--- I would not get any gray-just black.

If your skin on different areas of your body is lighter, say a 6 - 7- then a brighter red might work or a blue. But that depends on what undertones your skin has--- reddish would tend to then cancel out the red etc.

Well that sucks. I don't even want colors in the first place. I really don't understand how I'm supposed to get a quality tattoo if I can't have detail and I'm limited to black only... Sigh.... A dude just wants to be tattooed!

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Well that sucks. I don't even want colors in the first place. I really don't understand how I'm supposed to get a quality tattoo if I can't have detail and I'm limited to black only... Sigh.... A dude just wants to be tattooed!

Look at guys like Chad Koeplinger. He does fairly simple designs that are super powerful and really amazing without having a lot of detail.

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Genie of the West

I know it's discouraging to not be able to get what you want and have it look the way you want it to look but that's life. I love high fashion and would love to wear sleek clothes and high heels - but i'm short and fat. So, I can wear them -- but they just won't look so good.

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Genie of the West

I know it's discouraging to not be able to get what you want and have it look the way you want it to look but that's life. I love high fashion and would love to wear sleek clothes and high heels - but i'm short and fat. So, I can wear them -- but they just won't look so good.

You can exercise and eat properly and stop being fat. I can't exercise my skin into a lighter color. It's really not the same at all... But I appreciate your attempt at consoling me. I don't even know what to do about my next tattoos now. So discouraging. Do you think traditional style pieces in black would be good? I mean the traditional designs are usually pretty big and bold without too much detail.

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You say your chest is lighter because it isn't exposed to as much sun? I suggest lathering on sunscreen everyday. See if that helps your arms lighten up a bit after a few months. I wear sunscreen everyday if I'm going to be in the sun longer than 15 minutes or so, particularly now that I have tattoos.

Also, I agree that big bold thick outlined designs would probably work best, and those can be done in black and look just as good as if they were done with color.

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Genie of the West--- You make the assumption that I don't eat properly or excercise. I'm 5'2 --- I'd like to be taller, that's not going to happen. I had my thyroid surgically removed because of thyroid cancer and I must take medicine, which keeps me in a hypothyroid state. I will never be thin.

That being said, we must work with what we have.

If you want your tattoos to be as outstanding as possible, working with your skin color and tone, Then I suggest a clear easy to read design, in black- whatever the genre. And I will wear clothing that best suits my figure!

Also, extreme as it may sound- on my husband's recent trip to a laser treatment practitioner,to remove a tattoo, they discussed the different settings necessary for light and dark skin tones. Laser treatments are available for evening out uneven skin, spots,blotches, vitiligo etc. perhaps laser treatments are a viable option for your darker areas, so that your tattoos will be more outstanding.

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limitations are a great source for creativity, its a matter of perspective sometimes. you could do real bold traditional style tattoos with hatch "shading" like a wood block print and utilize some solid black in places. or use pacific tribal design elements with art deco structures. ive tattooed some really dark complected folks as well and theres still cool stuff you can do.

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Hey dude dont worry, I'm white as milk and my chest and ankle tattoos feel like a bas relief... lol basically all the lines are raised, or if not really raised, then definitely able to feel the difference when I touch it between the shading and the lines. It's just a normal part of being tattooed, after all, tattoos are basically scars.

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Yes, some black people have skin that tends to keloid, which can create a raised tattoo. I have a lower back (think tramp stamp) tribal piece that is COMPLETELY raised, not just the outlines. The tattoos on my upper thighs however are flat and 'normal'. I'm planning flank and a wrist one, and I know my skin is unpredictable as to whether it will be flat or raised - so I take it into consideration... Don't get frustrated, it is what it is.

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