By Sara Barnes
The tattooist known simply as Roxx adorns clients with minimalist geometric designs that sprawl across their arms, chests, and legs. Created using only black ink, the San Francisco-based artist incorporates bold lines and complex shapes—resembling wire or machinery—that contour a person’s body, making them seem like they’re a partial cyborg.
Roxx started her tattoo career 30 years ago, and like any artist, her style has evolved over time. She began in the 1980s by inking tribal designs onto skin, exploring different visual approaches from indigenous cultures around the world. “I was doing that a really long time, so I started blowing those designs up to become more graphic but less detailed,” Roxx told GQ. “And I got bored with that. I started really whittling things down to really simplistic shapes.” After that, she experimented with various phases of color work until arriving at her current style that favors abstraction over maximalist imagery.
To create her contemporary works, Roxx looks to the structure of leaves and shells. Specifically, “The repeating patterns and the geometry,” she explained, “the stuff that’s always fascinated mystics and philosophers and shamans.” The deeper she delves into this microscopic world, the more she’s fascinated with it. Once a client arrives, she forgoes the typical pre-planned stencil placement. “When you’re drawing things straight onto the body, they have another magical quality to them that is often lost.” This makes their precision and intricate details all the more impressive.