Sunday, 7 June 2020

This Talk is about South African Tattoo History

Asked about our history by our constant support and benefactor, Johann at "Tattooinc"
This is a brief history of what I have learnt, heard about and experienced.
Obviously I don't know it all, anyone wanting to contribute to perhaps doing a more in depth episode, can mail me the info
Some people have been omitted by time constraints and my short memory, for that my humble apologies.

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Mixing styles

Tribal and the mixing off styles
I touched on earlier, I touched on a few things in "placement of tattoos" about mixing styles. So now I want to talk about styles. Styles for me are very important. I think it shows good tattoo knowledge and good research about what it is that you like and what you expect to look like over a period of time, getting tattooed more and more and more. I mean, there are various different styles, you have Western traditional, you have Oriental, Tribal and the list goes on, neo-traditional, neo-western traditional, neo-Japanese. Neo-traditionals, the neo-traditional just means taking the traditional work and reinventing it in a more modern way, that's all it really is. But let's talk about tribal. You've very varied amounts of tribal travel is a blanket term and was really made famous, by a gentleman called Leo Zulueta who is still around, does great work, and he really did a lot of study into the kind of tribal work that's being done in the Near East, Malaysia, Burma. All of these exotic places. The amazing thing about Leo's work is Leo's understanding of positive and negative shapes when tribal is done, it needs to ascertain what is going to be a positive and what is negative on the shape of the body. If that is not taken into consideration, then that balance, that good creative design does not exist. That's why tribal gets such a bad name because a lot of guys have tattooed people with really shit tribal work. That is not designed for that area, was never designed at that size. It was designed much, much larger. And people have just taken it or flash sheets and tattooed it to people. And that stuff looks terrible. That's why tribals got a bad name. Go look at Leo's work. You'll be amazed at what good tribal can look like. But then tribal doesn't only extend to that. We have the Moko from New Zealand, which is also the most insanely cool tribal work right across the whole marquesas. Tahiti, Hawaii, Samoa. The Samoan Pe-a, which is really, really an amazing piece of work. It goes across the lower back and wraps right around the thighs on men. There is also a woman's Pe-a, which is amazing. So when it comes to tribal work, go and do some research about really cool tribal tattoos and then get really good work done. Look at it and understand that that the relationship of clear skin to tattoo skin needs to speak. These work together. They have their own language. And that's important. That's really, very important. So understand that, that is something that you need to really consider and that comes with size. So small tribals, always end up looking terrible, especially from a distance.

Monday, 4 May 2020

Western traditional

Carrying on with styles, Western traditional, Western traditional is probably what we would call the European experience in tattooing. Or American and European experience and tattooing. A lot of people believe that America is like the home of that, it's not really true. Most early studios started in Europe and the Scandinavian countries, mainly in the U.K. The first exposition of tattooed people was done in the U.K. with bringing the Maori back. Obviously, when we go into ancient styles, tattooing is prevalent throughout the globe with a with ancient peoples Synthian mummies have been found that are two thousand four hundred years old, B.C. before Christ with tattoos, pictorial tattoos. When we talk about Western traditional, Western traditional really pertains to that Caucasian style of tattooing that is prevalent, across Europe and America, these are often based around the military or the merchant marines and stuff like that. You will see a lot of quite simplified dragons, which, obviously, from the merchant marines travelling around the oceans, going to the Far East. And then you see a lot of military style tattoos. The most famous is probably Sailor Jerry Collins, who worked in Hawaii, which was a staging point to the Pacific sector in the war. So lots and lots of servicemen were going through Hawaii and were getting tattooed. So you see a lot of military insignia, eagles, flags, and also a lot of pieces in dedication to family, like the roses with loved ones names and stuff like that. This is how it's put together often people look at Western traditional and they go all out piecemeal, little bit here, a little bit there. And yes, obviously, especially when you think of a merchant marine moving around. They weren't in port long enough to get like a really large tattoo. So what would they do? They'd get something small and then they'd go off to the next port and probably get something a memento from there. And it would be another small piece because they weren't there long enough to get a bigger piece and so on and so forth. Today, when we look at Western traditional, its placement is very important. Once again, it's like tribal. One piece's relation to another is very important. And how it is read together is also important. So think about that when you're getting Western traditional piece. How do the pieces sit against each other? How much space is there between each piece? What does that relationship look like from a distance? So these things, I believe, are very important also when it comes to Western traditional work.

Friday, 1 May 2020


Today, I'm going to talk about Oriental work. I love Oriental work, and Oriental will pertain to Chinese, Japanese tattooing, also very ancient styles. Probably the most well-known is the Japanese style, and what is has been propagated mostly by the Yakuza. These pieces are investments, they show tenacity, they show strength and are normally predesigned. So it would never be a piece that has not taken the whole body into consideration, where it ends, how much shown, understanding that keeping the shirt area open because tattoos are still seen as taboo in Japan. Having to go somewhere with an open shirt and tattoo showing you'd be discriminated against. So, and that's still happening. Still happening today. I've seen signs where on restaurants that are not happy to have tattooed patrons come into the restaurant at all. And the signs are in Japanese and English. So they're not just not wanting Japanese tattoo people coming in there, the "Yakuza". They don't want Caucasians. They don't want anybody who's tattooed coming in. So it says something, but we've digressed. The beauty of those large pieces is amazing and go and do some research. You'll be amazed at what is being done. Horiyoshi III, is still around and his sons are training as well. Go and look at the kind of work that they do. A lot of it is still done by hand. I know Horiyoshi doesn't he uses the machine to do all the line work and then he'll do the color work by hand "Tebori". And it's amazing. What is most amazing is when you see those people shot naked. They look ,that is like the most beautiful back pieces, body pieces that you can imagine. I mean, they really are amazing. And I love that thinking. And if you following any of my work, you'll see that I've been working at a style that is a crossover between that kind of work and almost a graffiti/graphic style of work with. What I would what I like to call a neo-Japanese way of working So go and do research, style is very important. I believe that when other people who are knowledgeable of tattooing see you and you understood the style, they appreciate that. They see that you have if you haven't, they won't. So be careful.

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