Tattoos - township style

| Mary-Anne Gontsana
Peter Webb draws a tattoo on a client’s arm. Photo by Masixole Feni.

Since the age of 16, Peter Webb from Mfuleni has had an obsession with tattoos after seeing many movie stars with bodies splashed with ink designs. Finally with his first salary, he managed to buy a tattoo machine and started his own business in the township.

Located in Extension 4, where he is renting, Webb operates from his shack that he shares with his girlfriend. An A student in art in high school, Webb got his first tattoo at the age of 16 on his arm and says it was not painful at all.

“I am 30 years old now and I have about 40 tattoos on different parts of my body. I bought my first machine in 2012 for R4,500. I didn’t have training on doing tattoos. It came with practice and the tattoos that I have on my body on places that I can easily see and reach, I have done myself,” said Webb.

Webb said he gets around 10 to 12 clients a week. The process includes him first showing his clients different designs from his computer. The clients choose the design they want, only if they have not brought their own. He then takes a ballpoint pen and draws the exact design on the part of the body that the client wants the tattoo. He then takes a new needle and sets it up on his tattoo machine, dips it in ink, and starts drawing on top of the pen drawing, inserting the ink into the skin.

“Most tattoos I do quickly, it takes me about 20 minutes at most, but the time depends on the size of the tattoo that I am doing. I have many memorable tattoos but the one that stands out, was my first one that I did where a client wanted his whole arm covered with a tattoo.” said Webb.

“I get a lot of support from the community. I see this in the number of clients that I get. Another thing is that I am affordable and the quality of my stock is good. I use specific needles and I use high quality ink.”

MfuleniTattoo4-MasixoleFeni-20150618.JPGWebb operates his business from the shack he lives in.

Webb’s tattoos start from R100 and up. A single letter costs R15 and other tattoos are dependent on size and the amount of shading the tattoo will require. It takes three to four days for a tattoo to heal but it also depends on a client’s skin.

“I really enjoy what I am doing and I am also doing a lot of work with a friend in Johannesburg who is also a tattoo artist. Apart from Mfuleni, I also have clients in Gugulethu and Parklands, who I travel to when they need tattoos done. There is a business that I am interested in doing where I will be taught how to do 3D tattoos, but I am still raising money for that because it costs R15,000,” he said.

Asked whether doing a tattoo was painful, he said: “Pain is pain, but it depends on exactly which part of your body you have your tattoo done. If you are afraid of pain, stay away from spine tattoos.”

TOPICS:  Arts and culture

Next:  When protesters have to teach police what the law says

Previous:  Visa applicants rejected for “incorrect and ill informed” reasons

© 2016 GroundUp. Creative Commons License
This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.