pinz and needlez


Oshun Afrique is getting her 35th tattoo.

She has come to the Pinz-N-Needlez tattoo shop in Washington, D.C., where practically every inch of wall space is covered in artwork. While Afrique lounges on the sofa at the front of the small, quaint shop, owner Christopher Mensah sits at his desk and sketches her tattoo design.

Afrique came to the store after seeing Mensah’s work in her Facebook news feed. She and Mensah both agree that anyone looking to get tattooed should scour online portfolios to find the right artist.

But in addition to considering the artistry, Afrique has one other requirement: She won’t get work done by artists who have no black people featured in their portfolios. She wants to see people with skin the color of hers, a deep, reddish brown.

For Tattoo Artists, Race Is In the Mix When Ink Meets Skin

Photos: Raquel Zaldivar/NPR

This is a tattoo of my dog, Surf. He was my best friend. When he passed away a few months ago, I was obviously devastated. I had always wanted a portrait of him even when he was living. So after he was gone, it only made sense that I made sure it happened. I could not be more at peace with his passing. Nor could I be any happier with the result of just the first session. 

Artist: Jessy Knuckles

Place: Baltimore, MD; Pinz and Needlez Tattoo.