By Nyame-kye Kondo
Special to the AFRO

Privately owned businesses have been hit especially hard during this national emergency. 

Black entrepreneurs throughout the Washington Metropolitan area have had to find creative ways to keep their businesses afloat; one such person is Prince George’s County based tattoo artist, Cris Montana. 

The AFRO was able to catch up with Montana, via video chat, as she sat in her dimly lit living room in Nike army fatigues and a jean jacket.

Prince George’s County based artist Cris Montana perseveres despite the odds. (Courtesy Photo)

Based in District Heights, Md., Montana split her time between the District and Prince George’s County during her developmental years, and graduated from Charles H. Flowers High School, in the mid 2000s. It was during this time that she began her career as a tattoo artist.

“I started tattooing when I was 16,” Montana said, “and because there weren’t a lot of women tattooing in the area during that time, I was able to bring something new to the scene.”

Now well into her career, Montana is a stand out figure in the tattoo world and has helped to elevate the D.M.V tattoo scene to higher heights.

Petite in stature, gentle in nature and dedicated to her craft, Montana’s aesthetic has made her a likable figure on social media. Touting more than 100,000 followers on Instagram, Montana has used it as a platform to elevate her business.

“If It wasn’t for my business I probably wouldn’t have social media,” Montana said with a smile and her dimple piercings shining in the light. “But when I realized that people enjoyed my artwork, my personality, my image, I started to use it as an opportunity to engage with the wider world.”

A visual artist since the age of four, Montana has found herself relying on her other mediums to keep her artistic momentum since the shelter-in-place order during the pandemic. 

“I have a few mediums I am focusing on now. I’m doing painting, acrylic painting and tattoos,” said Montana. “Tattooing is my primary art form, but it  has been heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Because I work with people so closely, I can’t do tattoos right now. I do commissions, so I have been able to mail paintings off to people, but right now tattooing is no good for me.”

The artist said having multiple streams of income has been her saving grace during these hard times.

“Realistically it’s smart to have multiple incomes, because statistics show that people who are wealthy have 6-10 sources of income. I believe that’s the way to go.”

With the current state of affairs, altering the lives of American citizens, Montana has been taking the changes in stride. 

“It’s been hard to not tattoo because of what I’m so used to doing, but it’s been a relief because I feel like I needed a mental break. Now I can wake up, do yoga, paint and just relax; as opposed to having to see so many people a week.”

Montana gave some closing words of advice before settling in to observe the 8 p.m. curfew imposed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. “Learn how to manage your money because even if I was unable to turn over profit by selling my artwork, I would be good for some months because I saved money. It’s important to always think ahead.”