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The Style of Chicago Shines Through the Art of Black Ink Crew Chicago’s Ryan Henry

Style and fashion are two things that go deeply hand in hand. In the industry, there are several areas of style that speak volumes to a plethora of consumers. When you think of it, minds normally go to cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Paris and London. But what about the streets of Chicago? Even though fashion and style aren’t seen as major players in the Midwest, Chicago has a style of its own that uniquely sets them apart. Chicago brings the East, West, North, and South together. As the weather cools down, fashion becomes the center of attention. Many Chicagoans are into street style. Styles such as a leather jacket over a plaid shirt and jeans or maybe a dress to flow in the windy city.

The style of tattooing in Chicago outshines all things for Ryan Henry, the star of Black ink Crew Chicago and owner of 9 Mag Tattoo of Chicago. Although Ryan hadn’t drawn for years before tattooing, all his life he’s been an artist when it came to pen and paper. For him, it meshed and was easy as playing the flute. Coming from being a part of the streets and in the hood during a recession, Ryan had to make a promise to himself and his late sister that he would make the career choice to go and become a tattoo artist. Being heavily inspired by his fellow castmate Van Johnson helped spark that hustle of making things happen for him. “He inspired me by his hustle. He was doing it and I wanted to do it too. I’m a hustler just as he is,” Ryan shared.

That hustle for Ryan turned into an art that is relevant and an art that has evolved over the last decade or so. In the past, tattooing wasn’t as glorified as it is today. The evolution of this art has become increasingly more popular with this generation and culture. For years, it has been more about bikers, rock stars, rappers and athletes, but what about the everyday person? Ryan states that his best and most proud work is the average person. He feels they truly understand the art and the artistic expression of the tattoo craft. Not one to boast about tattooing celebrities makes Ryan one of the most authentic at his craft. At the end of the day, it is simply about the art. “To be in that realm where people want to come and express themselves is what I love. It's growing and I love to see it,” Ryan shares.

The style of tattooing can be a difficult process to learn. For Ryan, tattooing where he was from taught him an array of attributes that an apprenticeship could not. From day one, he learned how to tattoo Black skin. He learned which colors work, and which don’t. How to cover up on Black skin and so much more. By the time he started tattooing on other skin types, he was well-versed in the artistry. His style of tattoo has broadened to different types and forms such as traditional Japanese, Polynesian and Western. He continues to be of service to the city of Chicago through his artistry and 9 Mag, inspiring creatives to express themselves through art.

Check out the 2022 Style Issue.


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