If Neo-Traditional/ Traditional style tattoos are your fix, look no further than our featured Tattoo Artist, Charl Steyn. We get to know him and his work here.
Brought to you by Zappa.
Full name: Charl Steyn (Instagram)
Shop: The Tattoo Studio 012
Years tattooing: 8 years
Tattoo style: Neo-Traditional, Illustrative Line-work, and a bit of everything else
Hourly rate: R1300
Tell us about your journey of becoming a full time tattoo artist?
From a young age, I have always been into drawing and painting. When I got older a few of my friends had tattoos, they saw I had a love for art and they encouraged me to get into tattooing. In 2008 I went to England and got my first tattoo there and I fell in love with it. When I got back to South Africa in 2009 I got a job at a tattoo studio where Nathan Philips worked. I met a bunch of other artists and l had some old skateboarding buddies that got into the industry way before me. Nathan, George Georgio, Leigh Soulink and Waldo Del Rocca guided me to where I am today.
What about the trade first caught you attention and ignited your passion?
It is all for the love of art. Tattooing saved me in a way. I would’ve probably had a shitty office job and I would’ve lost a big part of myself in the process. Tattooing allows me to do art full-time, and I thank every single client for helping me live my dream.
Are you self-taught or did you do an apprenticeship?
Half and half. I did an apprenticeship with Nathan Phillips for a couple of months before I started tattooing small stuff on friends. Skateboarders are crazy people. I worked on my own for about a year after that with guidance from Nathan and George, before working with them full time for another three years. I owe most I know about tattooing to those guys.
Give us some insight into your shop The Tattoo Studio 012?
It started out as a one man show. I left Humdinger and got to open a studio at Thrashers Skatepark. Anakin Tensu started working with me within a week after opening and Paige Kröger and Chris Theunissen joined about a year after. It is a cosy little studio with 100% good vibes. All of us love doing art and feeding off each other’s creativeness. We want anybody to be able to pop in and say hi or get a tattoo.
Where would you like to see your career take you?
I just want to progress and enjoy my art as much as possible, and hopefully be able to tattoo and art until I’m old. I would also really like to do more guest spots in different cities/ countries, meet new people and experience new places.
What style of tattoo do you enjoy creating the most, and why?
I really love Neo-traditional/ Traditional. Traditional in itself is such a strong style that has stood the test of time and proven it can last and age well. Neo-traditional has that strength, yet one can still apply delicate lines and a more realistic shade and still have a tattoo that’ll look good over time. With a wider colour palette and subject matter selection, you can create pretty cool Neo-traditional designs, and after those lines are done, it is a colouring book, how can that not be fun to tattoo.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I guess just living life and keeping myself busy with positive things. I meet awesome people all the time and they give me cool ideas for designs. Sometimes some of my hobbies will give me inspiration, sometimes other people’s hobbies give me inspiration. The universe is a big and wonderful place filled with awe-inspiring things.
How do you like to make sure you keep progressing as an artist?
I always try and experiment with different mediums and different styles. I also do drawing courses to maintain and build on the art skills I already have. Sometimes I try and do art without having a certain style in mind and just let my mind do its thing. A little sketchbook is always a winner to have nearby for when those ideas strike.
When not working and tattooing, what do you like to do with your downtime?
If I’m not tattooing, I’m out skateboarding, bass fishing, working on my bonsai trees or chilling with the wife. I love astronomy/ cosmology and I really hope we find life somewhere else in the universe, and I would love to go around the moon for my 50th birthday.
What have been some of the craziest requests you have received?
Kanye2020 on someone’s wrist (didn’t do it), double chrome infinity sign with a scorpion in front of it, but the scorpion tail coming through the middle of the double infinity – if that even makes sense.
Which artist would you like to have the opportunity to tattoo, and why?
An artist by the Instagram handle, @Suflanda. Her work is amazing and her style is really unique. I would love to tattoo her and just pick her brain about the techniques she use.
For anyone wanting to book an appointment with you, what’s the next step?
Drop me an email at email@example.com with some ideas, we’ll set up a date and get you tattooed!
Tattoos by Charl Steyn
Photos by Alexander Wolf Photography.