Lady L sidelines stereotypes about black and women tattoo artists

ou’ve probably seen her work pop up on the Instagram explore page a few times. Detroit-based tattoo artist Lorri Thomas, better known as Lady L, enjoys tattooing watercolor, Polynesian and tribal-style tattoos, and has gained major notoriety for her body of work.

As a black woman, Thomas breaks two big industry stereotypes: that women can’t tattoo as well as men, and that they only get clients because of their looks. Thomas doesn’t let the male-dominated tattoo industry deter her from taking it by storm.

Being a formally trained artist, Thomas didn’t always see tattooing as a career option, but one day while at a tattoo party, her perception changed. Thomas helped the artist at the party with drawing tattoo stencils, and after that night she was hooked.

Now she’s been tattooing for over ten years, first starting out, Thomas says she couldn’t get an apprenticeship at a tattoo shop because men didn’t take her seriously, so Thomas taught herself- practicing on grapefruits, oranges, pig ears and practice skin. Thomas did tattoos in her home until the buzz around her name landed her a chair at Body Candy Tattoo. Now she’s inking at Detroit Ink Spot and the buzz surrounding her name is continuing to grow.

Lady L is an outspoken supporter her fellow female tattoo artists. She brought together a group of talented black women to travel the country and tattoo together. The Ladies of Ink tour features artists from around the country, making their way through nine cities including Chicago, Detroit, New York and Washington DC.


“We are fighting to be taken seriously,” Thomas says.

Lady L and the other Ladies of Ink will stop in Detroit doing live tattoo demonstrations at the Black Tattoo Art and Music Expo taking place July 23 at Eastern Market.

“We [black people] are not welcomed at the other conventions. It's important that we stick together and do our own thing,” Thomas says. “It'll help our careers if we stick together and keep our money in our community.”

Keep up with Lady L and the other Ladies of Ink on Instagram:

Lori Thomas – @ladyltatts
Krissy "The Butcher" – @thexbutcher
Cake – @lovelivecake
Cris Montana – @crismontana
Lorenda Thompson – @renren_tatts
Nychelle Elise – @nychelleeliseart
Imani K. Brown –

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