Wanting to really become a tattoo artist probably started a few weeks after buying my first little secondhand beginners set. I got this set from a friend I made that I worked with in a fast food shop, that ran stalls in markets. I started out watching YouTube videos and practicing on friends. The first tattoo I done was on myself which was a little cross on my marital finger. It never Healed well first time around. Well because I would always be wearing latex gloves and my hands would constantly get wet from slicing chicken breasts for work. This was just a part time job I had then. When I got back to varsity, I honestly was never able to focus on my studies. I would constantly be doing little doodles while the lecturers held their lessons. I remember one time I tattooed a friend of mine in the classroom after class. Although work I dished out at the time was not much to look at. All I had on my mind was trying to make this work out. I dropped in and out of varsity countless times as well as moved from house to house never feeling accomplished. My name in the tattoo industry was not going anywhere. I was probably getting a bad reputation to begin with. I would constantly watch YouTube tattooists and not only dream about the lifestyles they had but about the work their put-on people.
I never actually was into art to begin with. I just always knew I could draw. I mean I was not the best artist, but I knew I could do something. Even when I had the option to study art from grade ten, I did not get into it. I just stopped at “arts and culture” when it was mandatory up to grade 9.
Although I did start drawing again when I was in varsity. I started doing portraits. I mostly got into this because I was shy, so I would draw pictures of girls I liked on campus. I mean it was the only thing I knew how to do. So, getting my first little kit kind of pushed me to getting into it more. I got into it thinking maybe I can make extra money for myself doing small pieces that anyone can do.
I did do a weeklong tattoo course and got my first tattoo job straight after that, but I still was not happy with myself in the work I was putting out. I mean work I done was not calling in much clientele for myself. So, the success I expected to get was not really showing up.
Later I decided to move back to South Africa to try and start from the bottom again and work my way up, the right way. I probably walked into 20 different tattoo shops and got turned down which I felt, I might have a chance at. Until I walked into Jaded ink where I really felt intimidated. A man (Jaysu who became my mentor) fully tattooed up to his neck and face was walking out as I walked in. I asked him “Hey, is there anyone I can speak to just to show some of my work to possibly get a job or an apprenticeship” and he pointed over to another bigger scarier fully tattooed guy(Jade that also became my mentor) who was tracing up a stencil at the time and said “Hey, jade he just wants to show you some of his work....”.
I got nervous at the time and said, “I can come back if his busy”. Jade got up and walked towards me and was like “no it’s cool we can go outside for a second so you can show me what you’ve done”. At the time I only had my cellphone with me to show him my work well because I was not aware, I’d run into a tattoo shop going into that center. He looked and was honest with me “look I’m not going to promise you anything but let me get your details from you”.
A few days later I was printing out a dove and a pocket watch at a printing place called Jet-Line so I could draw. Then I got a call from jade, he asked if I’d like to meet up just to chat and if I could bring all my artwork I have that I could put together for a small portfolio. Excited as I was, I asked him if we could meet up the same day, he agreed. So, we met up and from there that is how I got here...