Working out of 1933 Classic Tattoos in Juburg, we consider Rasty Knayles to be one of the best tattoo artists in South Africa with his awesome detail and style. We’ve even had the privilege of getting some of our own amazing work done by him. We finally bring Rasty to you as our featured Tattoo Artist of the Week. We interview this talented artist known for his insane Graffiti work and Tattoo masterpieces:
Shop: 1933 Classic Tattoos
Year tattooing: 5yrs
Tattoo style: Realism / New School
Tattoo hourly rate: R800
Tell us your story of how you got into tattooing?
As an artist I’d always been fascinated by tattoos and it was through graffiti that I managed to get into tattooing. I had painted a few studios in Johannesburg and some graffiti friends of mine in Cape Town were also tattoo artists. I knew as soon as I got my 1st tattoo that it was something I needed to learn, after a few years I finally got the opportunity to do an apprenticeship with Alessandro form Anima Mundi.
You are a renowned graffiti artist and have produced some incredible work. What is the transition like from creating art with a spray can to creating it with a tattoo machine?
I think having the years of graffiti experience when I started tattooing definitely made it a bit easier. I already had a basic understanding of shape and form and how to use colour, I just had to learn the technical side of how to tattoo. Mastering how to control a spray can is one of the most difficult things you can do but tattooing is even more challenging, I continue to learn every day.
Has the technique of graffiti helped in your tattooing style? If so, how and how much of it transitions into your tattoo work?
The two mediums effect each other equally, a lot of what I have learnt through graffiti definitely influences how I execute my tattoos but at the same time the imagery I tattoo has a big influence on my personal drawings and paintings.
When getting into tattooing, what did you find helped the most when learning how to tattoo?
Having a good teacher.
“I am always in a personal battle with myself, making sure I continuously look for ways to improve my skills and style”
Nowadays, what do you do to progress in your tattoo styles, work and career?
I still have a lot to learn and things I would like to achieve as an artist but I am very grateful for what I have right now, every day I get to do what I love to do. I have great clients that give me a lot of support and the freedom to do what I think is best. Walls, skin, canvas, I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing and push myself to be better.
You are undoubtedly one of the best tattoo artist in South Africa. What do you think attributes to that?
I am always in a personal battle with myself, making sure I continuously look for ways to improve my skills and style. I take personal pride in all the tattoos I do and I make sure I give every client of mine my absolute best, I think people appreciate that above all else.
What are your thoughts on the progression of machines and inks? What types do you use?
I use coil machines, partly because I am sponsored by Godoy Machines but also because I feel like I still need to get a better understanding of how they work and the ways in which you can tune them to suit the way you work. I think it is great how machines, both coil and rotary, as well as inks and needles are always improving and making our lives as artist easier. I think it’s up to each artist to work out what equipment suits their tattooing.
What type of tattoo style do you enjoy doing the most?
I really enjoying doing classic black and grey tattoos, portraits, religious, chicano, etc. But I also have a lot of fun with bold new school colour pieces where I can really bring my graffiti influence into the tattoo.
Working out of 1933 Classic Tattoos. What is the vibe like in your shop and what can new clients expect from it?
At 1933 we pride ourselves in making every person that walks in the door feel welcome and relaxed no matter their background and reason for getting tattooed. We encourage people to give us their ideas and allow us to advise on what would work best so that we can give them a one of a kind original artwork.
What has been your most challenging tattoo to date? Did you enjoy doing it and how did it come out?
Probably the Nelson Mandela portrait I did because of the amount of detail in his face and the fact that everyone knows what he looks like, so there was no room for error. I was very happy with how it came out and more importantly the client loved it.
Where would you like to see your tattooing career go?
As long as I keep getting great clients that give me the freedom to do what I enjoy I will be happy. I would also like to start attending international conventions and doing guest spots at shops in other cities.
Which international shop and what international artists would you like to guest appear with?
These days there’s just too many to mention but it is definitely a great way to learn new techniques and skills as well as make a name for yourself in other parts of the world.
When you’re not tattooing, what do you get up to?
These days I don’t get much time outside of tattooing but I make sure I still paint graffiti on a regular basis, I also like to draw and paint in my studio at home. If I’m lucky I get a bit of free time to spend with my girlfriend, watch TV or sleep.
1933 Classic Tattoos Shop Details:
Contact number: 072 205 6055
Address: 33 De Korte Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg
Follow 1933 Classic Tattoos on Facebook
Some of Rasty’s Work: