Let’s chat about your childhood, where did you grow up? Did you have any relatives or friends with tattoos in your young days? Was it common in the circles you moved in, was it then when tattoo’s sparked your interest?
I was born in Green Point, Cape Town, my parents moved us to Kommetjie when I was 17. My best friend’s grandpa who we called Uncle Eddie was full of tattoos, full sleeves and chest. He was a bit of an outlaw in his time. My grandfather’s brother Frank also had tattoos and was a known tough guy. I was hypnotized by Uncle Eddie’s tattoos from a young age and became pretty obsessed. I always used to stick the bubble gum tattoos on myself, the rad ones with skulls and monsters! My parents weren’t too keen on me getting tattoos. When I was older I hung out with the likes of Tyler B Murphy a lot and had a few friends starting to pursue tattooing or art full time.
Since when have you been tattooing full time and if you had to pursue another profession what would you imagine that being?
I’ve been tattooing for 11 years now, if I didn’t tattoo I think I’d either work in the film industry or work at sea.
You have a very distinct bright and bold tattoo style incorporating various creatures and you don’t seem to stray from this vibe, have you always been tattooing this way? Where do you draw inspiration from?
I’m super into 80s fantasy art and movies. I’m always looking for strange references and get inspired by monster toys, skateboard graphics and old horror magazines.
I really found my love for this kind of bold style when I was living in Thailand, all the graphics that I loved so much were very strong and readable and had a certain 80s magic to them. I love tattooing with only black too, it looks tough and crude. I think it’s good to choose a style lane and stick to it and develop it. It’s a great feeling when a client requests you to go wild with a tattoo.
You own a vast collection of MOTU and Bootleg Toys, any idea on exactly how many you own at the moment? How long have you been collecting?
I’ve always collected toys, I started collecting Masters of the Universe many years ago and started chasing the bootleg gold a good few years ago! I’m super into Madballs, Galaxy Warriors, and many more bootleg MOTU lines. I’ve lost count of how many figures I have, Tomb Tattoo is full of my toys. But the grails are kept at home in my Toy Lair which is filled with vintage movie posters, toys, and my book collection. I also paint almost of my flash in there surrounded by Bootleg Warriors!
Tell us a bit about your Mystery Machine. How many daredevils participate on average each month? Do you throw in few kak designs just for shits and giggles or is this an honest operation?
The Mystery Machine is a beautiful hand-painted gum ball machine painted by Shane Copeland at Tomb Tattoo. We have had quite a few risk-takers, a few tears, many laughs, and lots of fun tattoos! It’s filled with Flash from Shane and myself. Nothing bad inside, but for sure lots of strange designs inside that magic box! If you’re a fan of our style, you’ve got nothing to worry about! No cry babies please.
Prior to TOMB you’ve also owned and tattooed at a studio in Thailand and seen many tattooers come and go, any advice on how to run a reputable studio especially in South Africa? In your opinion, what does the future of this industry look like after lockdown?
Prior to Tomb Tattoo I owned a shop called Six Fathoms Deep in Bangkok Thailand. We had many tattoo Giants pull thru that shop! We had the likes of Chad Koeplinger, Adam Vu, Guy Le Tattooer, Joe Vegas, Florian Sanctus, Jason Kelly, Nico Acosta and many more!!!
I think the secret is to love what you do, build a beautiful temple of a shop and fill it with wonders, have people you can count on working with you, people that love their work and have a passion for being a tattoo wizard! I think if your established and loved and can adapt you can weather the storm and get back that stoke of tattooing again! I think the destination shops will do just fine!
Describe an average day during lockdown, what do you get up to?
An average day for me now is to wake up and run with my dogs, lift weights at home, lots of painting and drawing flash, rearranging my toy displays, reading SA Crime Novels, studying Jiujitsu and lots of cooking, hanging out with my wife gardening and dreaming of being in the ocean and back at Tomb Tattoo.
If you had to listen to one album on repeat for a day what would it be and why?
It would be Soul Assassins Chapter 1 – the beats are amazing and it always gets me amped.
What is the strangest request you’ve ever had and actually tattooed?
I’ve done a full torso Japanese Eye Monster which was right up my alley, but would be totally weird to anyone else I guess. Melting skulls and toxic centipedes.
Do you have any paintings for sale or taking on commissions during lockdown?
I’ve got plenty of rad original paintings for sale!!! I’ll be making a few prints after lockdown for sure!!!