Masters of Ink is a Konbini original introducing you to a whole spectrum of tattoo artists from all over the world. Custom designers specializing in every style from modern dotwork to traditional Americana tattoos – tune in for something new every week!
In recent years, blackwork has achieved a great success in the tattoo community and has now reached the attention of the general public. After all, it is one of the most ancient practices of body art.
However, it's also been getting some mixed reviews from the public with a recent example coming from the UK where tattoo artist Belle Atrix was accused of blackface for covering her body in elaborate opaque ink. The argument blew over soon and many sided with Atrix saying a blackwork tattoo cannot be racist.
But we were curious to investigate further, and talking to one of the most coveted blackwork tattoo artists, Hanumantra Lamar, only made sense. Here's what he had to say:
"It is the history of tattooing, seen all over the globe before the time of global travel and communication. This ancient practice defies skin color, country and continent and appears indiscriminately on various people throughout human history."
According to the proud blackworker, if this practice has endured the centuries, it is certainly not to fade away in our contemporary work. On the contrary, Hanumantra states:
"I see [blackwork] as being the future of tattooing, and in this thought, I am not alone. There has been an increase in people choosing to express themselves with this nature of work."
Currently based in the UK, Hanumantra has explored Australia at the age of 18 in search of inspiration for his budding tattoo calling. His personal experience under the needle was spiritually eye-opening: "I felt a shift, not only in the perception of myself but also in the world around me."
It encouraged Hanumantra to start his practice and offer the same type of experience to other people. "The appeal was, and still is, to enhance a person's natural form by creating a strong and powerful design that will ripple deeper than the skin," he says.
The traveler has finally set himself in Shrewsbury, UK, where he created a private studio, Un1ty tattoo, with his partner Jo Harrison. They’re both pursuing the same goal: "We want the experience of getting tattooed by us to stay with the wearer as long as the ink stays under the skin."
But Hanumantra's technique doesn’t confine itself to introducing black ink under the dermis – there is an underlying philosophical process included. According to the artist, his goal is to "amplify the inner strength" of his clients' spirit, and allow them to "feel empowered and protected as if they're wearing a layer of armor."
"Receiving a tattoo is a right of passage, it is a journey we embark on and when we emerge at the other end, lessons will have been learned and a life experience gained."
When it comes to Belle Atrix's case, Hanumantra says cannot understand the notion that putting black ink under your skin somehow relates to your stance on race. He tells Konbini: "People who have a knack dramatizing an innocuous situation also suffer from trivializing far more malevolent acts where their efforts would be better spent."
"Blackwork tattoo is a choice, it’s a lifestyle and it’s a philosophy – believing that less is genuinely more and understanding that we should not be afraid to stand out in world full of people trying to fit in."
Follow Hanumantra Lamar on Instagram and see more of his work below: