This week’s person of power is Doreen Garner, who can’t help but insert her own image into her tattoos. It’s not her fault — she just sees herself in her clients, and the art she makes for them.

“A lot of times when my clients come and want images of Black women, somehow my face ends up in it, or my mom's face ends up in it,” says Doreen, who uses the pronouns she/her/king. “That's something that I kind of can't avoid.”

Doreen sees herself in the Black women she creates and creates for, because those women are reminders of the many, many Black histories she celebrates in her work.

The Philly-born, Brooklyn-based, Rhode Island School of Design educated artist began first as a sculptor, using glass, beads, synthetic hair, and other materials to represent the fraught relationship Black people have with the medical industry. She takes heavy inspiration from Harriet A. Washington’s book, ‘Medical Apartheid’.

She got into tattoos because of the lack of Black representation in the industry. “There's a community that really wants to see Blackness and Black history and the Black experience expressed through tattoo images. Oftentimes, that hasn't really been seen,” she said.

She started tattooing in 2017, and has been met with acclaim ever since — she has a waitlist of eager future clients and almost 30,000 Instagram followers.

Sculpting isn’t that different than tattooing for Doreen. “A lot of the sculptures that I make are thematically centered around medical history, and the ways that the medical industry has exploited Black bodies,” she says. “There's a lot of me mixing up silicone flesh, and then using that as a material. And it's actually the same silicon that they use for a lot of practice tattoo skin.”

She’s an expert in detailing and decorating the Black body on a metaphorical and physical level: the image that has been a subject of critique for centuries — a societal prodding and poking that hasn’t yet ceased.

Black bodies are being, and have always been, sexualized, brutalized, and shamed. To put it simply, society has failed Black people and their bodies. It only makes sense, then, that her tattooing naturally honors her heritage.

Her tattoo art often involves a plethora of African imagery and nature. She intertwines West African Adinkra symbols with protective styles — her tattoos use line art that creates braid-like patterns. Her tattoos are expressive, eye-catching, detailed works of culture and creativity.

Doreen’s breaking barriers for those who have been told that they have to learn to tattoo from a white person, or were told that their skin was too dark to be properly tattooed.

“Tattooing is traditionally a practice that was being carried out by people of color. And I think that the idea that they have to go through a white person in order to learn these techniques, is a little absurd,” she says. “The white artists that are telling Black people that their tattoos won't work on their skin? Just stop the lie. That has nothing to do with how the tattoo is going to show up.”

Her gorgeous illustrations on Black skin prove her point. A Buddha in Bantu knots, a fierce Black panther, a dagger with a braid for a blade — her work marries Blackness to a medium that in the past has left people of color out of the conversation.

She wishes that younger Black creatives would be unapologetic and fearless when putting their art out into the world. There’s a lot of noise that tries to drown out Black voices, but Doreen won’t be silenced. The key is trying to trust herself and her path.

“This country that we live in has stolen a lot of our innocence. And so I think that when kids are allowed to just be themselves, that's the greatest thing. But, you know, we don't see a lot of that,” she says.

She comes off as very self-assured and confident, but Doreen also says she’s still coming into her own. “I'm trying to channel Claire Huxtable, and Marshawn Lynch, and everybody else at this point in my life, but I wish that I would have been able to do that when I was younger.”

In the future, she’s interested in practicing scarification and branding, which is less common in the States than elsewhere. Puerto Rico has been calling to her — she’s interested in tattooing there in the winter months.

“When I was recently there, a couple of people were DMing me to ask if I was tattooing there because there wasn't a lot of Afro Latinx [presence in] tattoo styles,” she explains. “That’s something that I want to [do] for the people that live there that also identify as being Black. That's something that I'm looking forward to.”

She’s also working on starting a nonprofit tattoo shop in Brooklyn, and might even dabble in video art. Inspired by Matthew Barney’s films and Hype Williams’ music videos, she intends to combine art and science in short films. “A lot of my sculptures are really visceral, bodily, and kind of horrific. So I want to start doing sculptures that lead the conceptual direction of the film.”

But for now, she’s enjoying where she is and hopes that other Black creatives are feeling that joy as well.

“I feel like we're in a Black Renaissance right now. I just want everybody to feel empowered by that,” she says.

For every tattoo sold, the independent artist who created it makes money. Doreen’s collection is out now, so you can share in her pursuit of joy and inspiration.

Author: Melinda Faukuade
Photo: Zabel Castillo
Video: Ben Hype
Creative Director: Becky Brown
Creative Producer: Rasheem Jamar
Senior Designer: Kelsey Cadenas
Casting Director: Jacqueline Rosa

This week’s person of power is Doreen Garner, who can’t help but insert her own image into her tattoos. It’s not her fault — she just sees herself in her clients, and the art she makes for them.

“A lot of times when my clients come and want images of Black women, somehow my face ends up in it, or my mom's face ends up in it,” says Doreen, who uses the pronouns she/her/king. “That's something that I kind of can't avoid.”

Doreen sees herself in the Black women she creates and creates for, because those women are reminders of the many, many Black histories she celebrates in her work.

The Philly-born, Brooklyn-based, Rhode Island School of Design educated artist began first as a sculptor, using glass, beads, synthetic hair, and other materials to represent the fraught relationship Black people have with the medical industry. She takes heavy inspiration from Harriet A. Washington’s book, ‘Medical Apartheid’.

She got into tattoos because of the lack of Black representation in the industry. “There's a community that really wants to see Blackness and Black history and the Black experience expressed through tattoo images. Oftentimes, that hasn't really been seen,” she said.

She started tattooing in 2017, and has been met with acclaim ever since — she has a waitlist of eager future clients and almost 30,000 Instagram followers.

Sculpting isn’t that different than tattooing for Doreen. “A lot of the sculptures that I make are thematically centered around medical history, and the ways that the medical industry has exploited Black bodies,” she says. “There's a lot of me mixing up silicone flesh, and then using that as a material. And it's actually the same silicon that they use for a lot of practice tattoo skin.”

She’s an expert in detailing and decorating the Black body on a metaphorical and physical level: the image that has been a subject of critique for centuries — a societal prodding and poking that hasn’t yet ceased.

Black bodies are being, and have always been, sexualized, brutalized, and shamed. To put it simply, society has failed Black people and their bodies. It only makes sense, then, that her tattooing naturally honors her heritage.

Her tattoo art often involves a plethora of African imagery and nature. She intertwines West African Adinkra symbols with protective styles — her tattoos use line art that creates braid-like patterns. Her tattoos are expressive, eye-catching, detailed works of culture and creativity.

Doreen’s breaking barriers for those who have been told that they have to learn to tattoo from a white person, or were told that their skin was too dark to be properly tattooed.

“Tattooing is traditionally a practice that was being carried out by people of color. And I think that the idea that they have to go through a white person in order to learn these techniques, is a little absurd,” she says. “The white artists that are telling Black people that their tattoos won't work on their skin? Just stop the lie. That has nothing to do with how the tattoo is going to show up.”

Her gorgeous illustrations on Black skin prove her point. A Buddha in Bantu knots, a fierce Black panther, a dagger with a braid for a blade — her work marries Blackness to a medium that in the past has left people of color out of the conversation.

She wishes that younger Black creatives would be unapologetic and fearless when putting their art out into the world. There’s a lot of noise that tries to drown out Black voices, but Doreen won’t be silenced. The key is trying to trust herself and her path.

“This country that we live in has stolen a lot of our innocence. And so I think that when kids are allowed to just be themselves, that's the greatest thing. But, you know, we don't see a lot of that,” she says.

She comes off as very self-assured and confident, but Doreen also says she’s still coming into her own. “I'm trying to channel Claire Huxtable, and Marshawn Lynch, and everybody else at this point in my life, but I wish that I would have been able to do that when I was younger.”

In the future, she’s interested in practicing scarification and branding, which is less common in the States than elsewhere. Puerto Rico has been calling to her — she’s interested in tattooing there in the winter months.

“When I was recently there, a couple of people were DMing me to ask if I was tattooing there because there wasn't a lot of Afro Latinx [presence in] tattoo styles,” she explains. “That’s something that I want to [do] for the people that live there that also identify as being Black. That's something that I'm looking forward to.”

She’s also working on starting a nonprofit tattoo shop in Brooklyn, and might even dabble in video art. Inspired by Matthew Barney’s films and Hype Williams’ music videos, she intends to combine art and science in short films. “A lot of my sculptures are really visceral, bodily, and kind of horrific. So I want to start doing sculptures that lead the conceptual direction of the film.”

But for now, she’s enjoying where she is and hopes that other Black creatives are feeling that joy as well.

“I feel like we're in a Black Renaissance right now. I just want everybody to feel empowered by that,” she says.

For every tattoo sold, the independent artist who created it makes money. Doreen’s collection is out now, so you can share in her pursuit of joy and inspiration.

Author: Melinda Faukuade
Photo: Zabel Castillo
Video: Ben Hype
Creative Director: Becky Brown
Creative Producer: Rasheem Jamar
Senior Designer: Kelsey Cadenas
Casting Director: Jacqueline Rosa