Social Policy

My Ink Baptism Tatted at Sariy Ink

When I thought about getting more done to the tattoo between my shoulder blades that I’d originally got earlier in the year, I knew that I wanted to support a Black owned business. This is something that I try to do in as many areas of my life as possible from the restaurants I eat at to the clothes items that I buy at markets or online. It’s not uncommon for me to go out of my way to shop small or support Black owned. In searching for an artist I used the Facebook search posts option and found Sariyah Ward, a young female entrepreneur, founder and owner of Sariy Ink. I looked through her work and saw a sincere close attention to detail which was something that I wanted to accomplish my tattoo. What drew me to her even more was that she wasn’t an artist renting a booth at a larger shop, she was working out of her own space. I didn’t mind at all to make the hour, fifteen minute drive from North Seattle to her shop in Tacoma. The storefront wasn’t hard to find and it only took a minute to get to once I’d got off of I-5.

I’m so glad that I got the opportunity to work with Sariyah. Her shop was full of color from her artwork and paintings, to the color drip effect over the windows. The space was comfy and quiet. When I complimented her her beautiful shop she’d told me that it was horrible before, but I couldn’t even imagine with the work that she was able to put into it.


She showed me the clean, unopened needles before getting started, “So you know I’m not dirty” she told me, at that point my trust in her was sealed. She drew the outline on me, carving the shape of the tattoo right onto my back. After showing me the sketch she got started. As she was working I thought about how I never imagined having this large of a tattoo, even now. I was so proud of myself as she continued with the needle. There were spots where the intensity of the needle on my back stung, “Does this hurt” Sariyah asked at one point on my neck, “Umm Yes” I responded, not wanting to admit it to myself because that would make the pain ‘real’ in a sense. “Girl, you’re gangta, I know it hurts,” I felt pride well up inside of me, when you’re tattoo artist calls you gangster you know you’re doing well. To reassure myself I kept thinking about James 4:14, life is only a mist. Knowing in this moment my pain is only a small fraction of that mist, a droplet in the grand scheme of things. When the pain intensified I thought of the entire experience as a tiny drop out of my mist of a life that would leave me with some amazing art on my body that I’d been wanting done for awhile.

I thought of the experience detailing my tattoo as a baptism of ink, the beginning of a new phase in my thinking that was no longer governed by previously held expectations of myself or that of others. Im not sure if tattoo artists realize the depth of their work, their creation of imagery onto a person essentially redesigns them, recreates their interpretation of themselves and it’s essentially a form of rebirth. We can see this especially in cases of first tattoos and coverups but I’d argue this is the case in every session. When I completed I arose from the chair as a new woman, sorer but prouder than before, finally my tattoo was completed and I was ready to walk into 2018 deeply rooted into myself like never before.

If you’re interested in getting a tattoo in the Seattle-Tacoma area, I would highly recommend Sariyah. Her art is beautiful and one can’t help but respect seeing such a talented young black woman with ownership over creativity, it’s hard to find an experience such as this in our society. Getting my tattoo done by her was more than simply getting a tattoo it was also supporting a young woman in her craft.

Thank you Sariyah.

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About Amani Sawari

I am a University of Washington alum, Class of 2016. I graduated with my Bachelors Degree in two majors: Media and Communications AND Law, Economics and Public Policy. It's a mouthful but it illustrates how I have a hard time doing only one 'thing'. I am a writer, poet, singer, songwriter and much more. I enjoy sharing my experiences and perspectives with those who are interested and I am a proud member of the black diaspora!
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