Introducing Sean Perrins from The Black Lodge. Sean is producing some of the best Black and Grey tattoos in the country and we’re excited to bring him to you as our Tattoo Artist of the Week.
Full name: Sean Perrins
Shop: The Black Lodge
Years tattooing: 8 since I first picked up a machine. 6.5 post apprenticeship
Tattoo style: Once you go black, you don’t go back
Hourly rate: R950
Tell us the story of how you got into the tattoo industry?
That’s a pretty long story, so here’s the short version. It started with a friend giving me a shitty machine and some needles in a shoe box, which led to some bad decision making, which led me to Jan ‘Munky’ Giebelmann begging for help. He in turn pointed me towards Busta Bolton, who I happened to bump into while I was doing a live painting. He offered to apprentice me part-time, and when he opened The Golden Tiki I was given a position as a junior artist. In reality it felt like tattooing found me, and once it did, the pull was relentless.
Did you have the intent of becoming a Tattoo Artist, or did it happen by chance?
I wanted to tattoo the first time I walked into a studio. I think I was going on nineteen and the tattooer said to me “Join the fucking queue”. I ended up working for the same guy as a guest artist in his shop in London like 17 odd years later. Not much happens by chance in my life it seems. Both art and tattooing were a series of being in the right place at the right time repetitively for me.
At what moment did you realise that this is what you’re passionate about and want to do for a living?
Look, tattooing is really fucking hard. Well, for me it was anyway. I had to walk through the heart of all my inadequacies and insecurities, and in the beginning it was just anxiety all day. But I couldn’t stop doing it, you know? I couldn’t stop getting up every day, and facing myself, and trying to be better on the next piece. And going home beating myself up for not being good enough. So I’m not sure when I realised that this is it – I’m more surprised than anyone that I made it this far! I guess tattooing has taught me balance – you can’t be too hard on yourself, but it’s equally easy to fall into an ego trip as well. So you have to balance that energy out constantly.
Explain what goes into becoming a tattoo artist?
Technical skill, plus artistic skill and a whole lot of perseverance. For me the fundamental part of tattooing is who you’re learning from, and I don’t just mean in your apprenticeship. Generation Y is out there learning on youtube, or rushing through to open their own shop, but there’s no substitute for learning from other talented tattooers. Everyone you work with has something to teach you, because everyone’s technique is slightly different. Without a good support structure around you, you can idle for years with little to no growth.
What does a day in the life of Sean Perrins consist of?
Generally it starts with a school run, then I tank up on coffee while I design, usually at the shop. From there it’s tattooing from 10 till 5 or 6, and then home for a little family time. If I have new projects I’ll usually jump into more design in the evenings, or a little personal sketching, and then I game until I pass out! Rinse, repeat. I’m actually a terminally boring hermit.
You worked in various shops before opening The Black Lodge. What were your favourite what made you take the step into opening you own shop?
I worked in two shops before The Lodge (and a short 3 month stint in a shop in the UK), and they were both my favourites for different reasons. The Golden Tiki was where I started, so it has special meaning for me. After that I moved to Fallen Heroes in its early days. I worked with Munky at both shops, and I hate to say it (he’ll love it), but he’s probably the staple part of my career that I missed most when I opened my own space. I really learned so much from working in both spaces, whether from Busta, Thys, or anyone else. As I said earlier, working with other artists is probably the most valuable (and fun) part of tattooing. I guess the why is simply that I wanted to do something different to what I’d experienced so far. Not better, just different.
What have been some of the highlights of your career thus far?
I guess those would be people. Every now and again you get to help someone through a healing process via a tattoo, which is one of the pinnacles of this craft. Apart from that it’s my tribe, my shop family that have come together. I really am grateful to have a wonderful team of friends to work with every day.
You have just moved to a new premises. How would you best explain the vibe of The Black Lodge and what it offers its clients?
It’s a magical shop. We keep our appointment system, hygiene, and professionalism at the highest standards possible, but we didn’t want to be a mainstream studio, or a boutique store. We equally didn’t want a street shop, we really were intent on a custom space. I also have a lot of interest in mysticism and the occult, so that came into play as well. We ended up with a space that I felt was easy to be honest and straightforward in. We try and put out tattoos that we’re passionate about, rather than doing it for the money, and I feel you get your best work out of someone when they’re both happy in their space and excited about the artwork.
What type of tattoo work do you enjoy doing the most, and why?
I like working with black. More and more, I find myself moving away from colour work, and sticking with black ink. Maybe a colour accent here or there. I don’t really mind if it’s black and grey realism, or illustrative, or dotwork, if it’s a cool brief and I had the chance to custom design it then I’m amped. The more creative freedom I get, the more I’ll enjoy it.
What has been one of your favourite pieces to date?
Well, if I choose one all the others will get pissed off you know? But I had a Snape / Alan Rickman piece that I did that I really loved drawing and executing, it was just a fun style for me. There was also a full frontal leg that I did, like a totem pole of the bad guys from Norse mythology, I loved the way it looked healed up. But there are so many that I’m attached to for different reasons – the longer pieces are a journey in themselves, both with the piece and with the client.
You are planning on moving to Ireland soon. Why the move and what are your plans regarding tattooing while there?
I really like potatoes. I’m pretty excited to go over, I feel like working for someone else again, alongside some more great artists is exactly what I need in my life right now. Also getting to the European conventions and seminars will be amazing. I have a couple of short guest spots lined up in two awesome shops, but who knows what the future holds?
Can we expect some guest appearances from you back in SA in the upcoming years?
‘Appearances’ sounds pretty grandiose, but yes I have family and friends here so I’ll be back every so often.
Where do you see the tattoo industry in 10 years time?
Oversaturated and under-inspired. But seriously I don’t know. Maybe being the guy with no tattoos will be the cool thing in a decade or so!
To make a booking with Sean, or any of the artists at The Black Lodge get hold of them on 011 678 1321.
For more info visit their Facebook Page or Website.
Address: Shop 8 Arkansan Square, 185 Arkansan Avenue, Berario, Gauteng.
Tattoos by Sean