Dirty South: Atlanta's Legendary Tattoo Artist
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because he’s creating culture out of nothing.
By Nat Roe
In the first episode of the OZY original video series Dirty South, we meet visionary artist Miya Bailey. Bailey first got a taste of Atlanta’s underground art scene in the 1990s, when he scored a near impossible tattoo apprenticeship under Julia Alfonso. Back then, it was rare to find a Black artist in a shop. But Bailey, whose mantra could very well be “no boundaries,” not only pressed on but also rose to the top and became a legend in the industry.
Teaming up with Tuki Carter, Bailey opened one of Atlanta’s most notable tattoo shops, City of Ink. Located in the heart of Atlanta’s Old 4th Ward Historic District, City of Ink has revolutionized tattoo-shop culture by remaining minority-owned and run. Bailey says he’s seen Atlanta evolve and influence “the entire culture of America.” But as Atlanta continues to usher in new money, changing demographics and waves of gentrification, Bailey believes the city needs an artistic revolution. He hopes that by supporting and educating artists, Atlanta will maintain and respect its original culture — culture that was alive and thriving in the inner city long before it received the Starbucks stamp of “progress.”
Growing up in Atlanta, you learn a lot. “Whaddahave” is the love language spoken at the Varsity. Never bet on a sports team. And if you want to stay out of trouble … avoid Zone Six.
The reigning capital of the South, Atlanta’s influence is everywhere. Do you like trap, Afropunk and lyricism? Thank the A-T-L for that. But as the trench widens between the city’s housing projects and new, high-end developments, the haves and the have-nots, creative savants are determined to keep the city balanced and thriving.
Dirty South, an OZY original video series, centers around the ever-changing subcultures of Atlanta. Featuring influencers who are moving the city to the forefront of what’s hot, Dirty South looks at gentrification, gender roles, race relations and originality through the lenses of Atlanta’s art, music and fashion scenes.