From an early passion and being self-taught to a full time artist and shop owner, Brad Pretorius is our featured Tattoo Artist. Delve into his journey, getting to know more about him and his style of work, in our interview feature below.
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Full name: Brad Pretorius
Shop: Royal Ink Collective Tattoo Studio
Years tattooing: 14
Tattoo style: Realism, Neo-Traditional and Colour
Hourly rate: Starting at R1000 per hour
Take us through your journey into becoming a full time tattoo artist?
My love for the tattoos started mid high school, seeing friends getting there first art piece done and could not believe how rad it was, and so started my journey into the body art world. I then started designing tattoos for my friends. Eight years passed and I got a kick up my ass from my dad to get into tattooing to pursue my art career. I got my hands on a full tattoo setup and I started tattooing rubber skins and whatever materials I could get my hands on to practice. Being self-taught, my friends and fam saw passion arising and offered themselves as “guinea pigs”. As I started gaining confidence and the word got out I started getting more and more requests for tattoos, at that time, simple was always best.
After some time, the demand became way too much and I couldn’t keep up the balance between my day-to-day job and the tattooing. I was then motivated and confident enough to start my own tattoo shop. A mate of mine told me about a new development opening up and I spoke to the property owner and was able to secure a shop for my partner at the time and I.
On the 7 December 2013, my first official tattoo shop opened, and I have never looked back a day since. It hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve only grown from strength to strength and has brought me to my journey as owner at Royal Ink.
What first attracted you to the industry?
I’ve always had a passion for art and I love tattoos, I have always been mesmerised with how beautiful some tattoos looked, especially portraits, if done correctly, they truly are a work of art.
What did you find were some of the hardest skills to learn when first starting out?
Perfection, because the devil is in the detail. As an artist, my work was never good enough in my eyes. Making sure that consistency was shown tattoo after tattoo.
How do you recall the experience of tattooing your first client, and how did the tattoo come out?
Well, I married that client, so I reckon it worked out pretty well. For the stage I was in at that point of time, it was ok. But now, I see it every day and all I want to do is cover it, but my wife won’t let me, something about sentimentality.
What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?
Looking back, the journey as a whole, gaining recognition, meeting new people, tattooing a number of celebs and seeing my client’s smiles from ear to ear already discussing their next tattoo as they walk out the door. I’m still very humbled by the fact that people are willing to wear my art, it’s a bonus that they pay me for it. And, of course a feature in LM Mag (wink, wink).
Give us some insight into your shop, Royal Ink Tattoo Studio?
Royal Ink is amazing! It’s a vibe, it’s a laugh, It’s family. It’s a place where people like to spend their day. It’s a passion driven shop. Royal Ink shares the property with @mrkbarbers, @the_back.door street wear and a vape shop opening real soon. Creating a street-life centre where anybody can spend the day and spoil themselves. There’s never a dull moment. We all work hand in hand which helps to bring feet, so everyone gains. Myself and my main man Lyndon Hippolite (@the_surgeon_) – Royal Ink’s other artist – can pretty much cover all bases of tattoo genres. We work hard and take our work very serious but never excuse fun.
What does the tattoo industry mean to you?
It’s passion. It’s a beautiful lifestyle. It’s the one industry that allows you to be yourself. I like to think of the tattoo industry as our own form of the Knights of the Round Table. [Laughs] almost like an all for one and one for all kind of a scenario. Although we are all in competition, we do try to help each other out from time to time, lockdown proved that and it’s good to have backup and alternative resources, you never know when as a Tattoo Artist, you may need it. The industry has grown tremendously, but the industry in itself is still quite small, you get to know who’s who in the business, it takes a lot to be acknowledged, accepted and respected in the tattoo industry.
When not working and tattooing, what do you like to do with our downtime?
I enjoy spending time with my family. I am married to my most beautiful wife and share two beautiful daughters who are my life. Owning a tattoo shop and being a tattoo artist consumes a huge part of my life so I’ve got to spend the time wisely. My brother and I enjoy going out for rides on our dirt bikes. I try go fishing when I get a chance as well.
How do you like to make sure you keep progressing as an artist?
I try keep up with the times, technology is constantly changing. I follow quite a few well renowned tattoo artists on social media, I enjoy watching the latest tattooing tutorials, seeing what new styles are evolving, and how creative tattoo artists can be. I always strive to do better, I believe in leading by example. There is always room for improvement. Keeping your head held high and your feet on the ground.
What advice would you give someone wanting to get their first tattoo?
Do your research on the piece that you want. Do your research on various tattoo artists, their skills and expertise. Be 100% sure of the tattoo you want. Remember it’s there for life.
What style of tattoo do you enjoy creating the most, and why?
I enjoy a number of various styles. Namely realism, neo-trad, colour work, portraits, Japanese and geometric and always looking out for something different.
For anyone wanting to make an appointment with you, what’s the next step?
To make a booking you can contact me through instagram – @royalink_sa or @b_radtattooartist. Email: email@example.com or preferably message me on WhatsApp – 0837980415.
Tattoos by Brad Pretorius
Photos by Alexander Wolf Photography.