I never considered tattooing as a career to pursue. I thought for the most part it was only a hobby for an artist. So I always thought the only thing to do with an art degree was to go work in a museum or an art gallery or be a graphic designer, but none of these careers really interested me as much as tattooing does now even though I did go on to study graphic design for a little while.
Two years after school with no qualifications to my name, a head full of ideas, heart longing for art and hands aching to create, I walked into a tattoo studio. Having a good background of art the owner and main artist, Mark Ward, took me on as his apprentice. I fell in love after my first “tattoo lesson”. After a couple of months of washing floors, cleaning tips, making coffee, asking a million tattoo related questions and making a few rookie errors, I finally qualified as a Tattoo Artist.
So to explain it a bit better, artists love a challenge, and what better challenge is there than having to take an image from a motionless, 2D surface and recreating it on a living, breathing, moving human being where there is no plain flat surface, but one that wraps around muscle and bone. It takes time and patience and a lot of practice because a straight line doesn’t come as easy as 1, 2, 3, but once you get that line perfectly straight, or get the shading silky smooth for the first time, the excitement overwhelms you and gives you new motivation to continue and better yourself, as well as to take on more difficult challenges.
Although this is all exciting, we face the same difficulties as other artists in other art fields. The industry is a tough one, with a lot of competition from brilliant artists as well as the “shortcut artists” who buys their machines online and get no professional training. We have to deal with difficult and indecisive clients, or people who don’t want to pay the rates, the quiet days and then of course those brilliant days where your boss is in a bad mood, but as anyone will tell you, this kinda comes with life itself in any industry. Despite these few bumps in the road I think it’s such a reward seeing how happy my art makes my clients, and to know my art is walking around outside the four walls of a studio, sharing its story.
It’s pretty cool being a tattoo artist. You start to feel like a celebrity because as soon as people around you find out you’re a tattoo artist, they flock to you with curiosity in their eyes, wanting to know more about tattoos themselves, where you work, what you can do and so on. It is a difficult but very rewarding and interactive art career to pursue.
Look at Ami’s work and contact her on Instagram @ami_botha or Facebook