Tattoo Artists Keeping It Fresh
From intricate installations to performance artists challenging the status quo, we’re uncovering and celebrating unconventional artists who’re pushing the boundaries of their medium to create art that is uncompromising in its originality.
This Fearlessly Authentic Art list looks to the body as canvas and hones in on the ancient art of tattooing. Tattooing has come to be associated with a way of life. While still considered taboo by some, tattoos have gained widespread acceptance throughout the world including South Africa. These local tattoo artists – some newcomers to the scene, others veterans – are keeping the art form fresh in their work. In the words of Tyler B Murphy: “Tattooing is a sort of calling. It is a way to create an illusion of consistency in your thoughts and actions.”
Each of these artists are pursuing originality in their work and developing their own style:
Richard Moir AKA Ninjabreadboy
This Cape Town based hand-poked tattoo artist also doubles as an illustrator. His intricately detailed line and shading works convey distinctly South African motifs, often with a humorous tone. Coins, flora and fauna all make appearances in his work, as do more abstract forms and contemporary designs. He is one of two permanent artists working out of Palm Black studio.
Follow him on Instagram: @ninjabreadboy.
Anna-Claire Whysall AKA Sorry Mom Tattooer
Going by the moniker Sorry Mom Tattooer, Durban born, Mother City based Anna-Claire Whysall is carving out a place for herself in the male-dominated local tattoo scene. Drawing off her Durban roots, Anna-Claire’s work is infused with Indian motifs and elements which she spices up with contemporary details and embellishments.
Follow her on Instagram: @sorrymomtattooer.
Shane Copeland’s tattoo style is bold and contemporary, drawing reference from the western traditional style as well as popular culture. Cartoon characters from the Simpsons and Adventure time make regular appearances in his work alongside colourful custom pieces.
Follow him on Instagram: @2kittenpawz.
Tyler B Murphy
A stalwart of the local tattoo scene, Tyler B Murphy founded Sins of Style back in 2008 after tattooing fulltime for several years. From the beginning, Tyler has pushed authenticity of style and creative innovation. Over the years he has experimented with many styles and his currently focus is on an intricate woodcut style adapted from his illustration work.
Follow him on Instagram: @tylerbmurphy.
Waldo del Rocca
Another venerable figure in the local tattoo scene is Cape Electric Tattoo founder and SA Tattoo Convention curator Waldo del Rocca. Specialising in the western traditional style, Waldo has grown a loyal following for his custom work and flash designs. He regularly travels overseas to recruit guest artists to take part in the Convention and foster new relationships.
Follow him on Instagram: @waldodelrocca.
Working out of Trade Mark Tattoos in Durban, Dokter Irie specialises in Japanese style custom designs. He draws influence from traditional Japanese tattooing, anime, pop and kawaii culture. A recent batch of flash designs are inspired by Studio Ghibli characters.
Follow him on Instagram: @dokter_irie.
Artist and owner of Palm Black Tattoos, Raul Goetze specialises in custom designs primarily in the western tradition. His line work is crisp and his shading creates captivating depth in his pieces.
Follow him on Instagram: @raoulgoetze.
Electromagnetic tattoo artist, Irish James’ current work is subtle, precise and contemporary. His designs often have a conceptual underpinning and are executed with a thin outline and soft stippled shading. Not limited to one style however, his western traditional work is equally expert with vibrant colours and shading.
Follow him on Instagram: @irish_james.