With a passion and drive to create amazing Traditional Japanese tattoo pieces, we bring you Daniel Feinberg as our featured Tattoo Artist. Get to know more about the Heart & Hand Tattoos shop owner here.
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Full name: Daniel Feinberg
Shop: Heart & Hand Tattoos
Years tattooing: 3 ½ years
Tattoo style: Traditional Japanese
Hourly rate: R1000
Give us some insight into your journey of becoming a full time tattoo artist?
Ross Hallam of Handstyle 7th Street tattoos had been tattooing me for years, I was an Architectural Visualiser at that stage of my life and I was watching him tattoo these beautiful fine hair lines of a mythical Japanese creature called a Baku onto my shoulder. There was this moment of dread when I realised that I had to become a Wabori style tattoo artist. I knew I would have to sacrifice the incredibly well paying job I was in to do it. It was a serious feeling in which I knew I would have to make some serious sacrifices in order to fill my days studying Japanese aesthetics, philosophy and history and apply that to artwork which ends in beautifully tattooed Japanese body suits. I have a long way to go, but I am on the path.
If you weren’t a professional tattoo artists, what would you be doing with your life?
I would either be an Architectural Visualiser producing renderings and animations of commercial buildings, or I would have returned back to fine arts, spending days in a studio producing large scale paintings. Being a stay at home dad would also be an option, which is a lot more difficult than it sounds.
When did you first realise you had a passion for the industry, and what does the industry mean to you?
I was always obsessed with Japan since I was literally old enough to read, I came across Japanese tattoo very late in life and when I went for my first consultation at Handstyle and heard the buzz of coils, I felt a very real hook bury itself into my head and heart. My understanding of the Industry is very limited, it’s all new to me so I try and focus on positive aspects of it that I experience at the shop daily. It’s fairly easy these days, compared to say 15 years ago to equip the studio and run it in a responsible and hygienic way thanks to the supply companies and products readily available. The industry, because of its presence on social media, has led to the inclusion of more types of people that would never have considered being tattooed an option for them. I know some artists lament this, but I think it’s an incredible thing. The process of deciding you would like to get a tattoo, meeting your artist and discussing the work and then finally getting it done can be more than just commerce, which many believe tattooing has become as it is no longer hidden or closed off from the masses. I disagree with this from my own experiences, I’ve had very few ungrateful or unappreciative clients. Instead of concerning myself with the “big questions” of where the industry is heading I tend to focus on researching my tattoos as deeply as possible and ensuring that I create the best tattoo and experience for my client I can. At this early stage in my career I believe it’s the only thing I can really have any effect on.
How would you best explain the vibe and setup of Heart & Hand Tattoos?
We have a mixed bag of styles readily available for everyone’s tastes! You enter the space up a stairwell and I find newcomers seem a little surprised at what they see. We have cultivated a very warm and welcoming environment, everyone is friendly and enthusiastic and anyone who is feeling a bit nervous walking into a new tattoo studio not knowing “rules” of etiquette are always surprised at how friendly and helpful we all are. We like to think the studio feels like a boutique hotel lounge which just happens to have a professional tattoo studio set up in it! We adhere to all safety regulations, pre and post COVID, and put an emphasis on ensuring the clients are safe, comfortable and happy. We have art on the walls by our artists and a few from artists we have met on our travels. You’ll know my corner because it’s littered with drawings and studies for future tattoos. I try keep them in a portfolio but fail miserably at this
What does a day in your life usually consist of?
I wake up at about 5:30 and try and draw/ resolve design work I have pending for future tattoos. That first 30 minutes when everything is silent is a good time for me. I then get my daughter to school and go through to the studio to clean, make hygienic and get it ready for the artists. This is another moment that is important to me, it’s a habit I developed when I was an apprentice at Handstyle Tattoos and find it is the best way to order my thoughts and energy before seeing clients. It is important that I do this by myself. Then hopefully I tattoo, draw or manage the day-to-day running of the shop until it is time to go home, spend some quality time with my family and then I generally draw, paint or scour my extensive library on Japanese culture so I can produce the most accurate tattoo designs possible for an artist who has not been able to study as a Deshi under a Master.
How do you like to make sure you keep progressing as an artist?
I just study, draw, paint and tattoo with all the time I have available to myself. I rarely feel uninspired and my obsession fuels the progress. That being said, I get thrown occasionally when I have been confronted with unpleasant, nasty opinions which are malicious and not constructive. It has happened maybe three times during my short run and I have struggled to find equilibrium and passion to continue, but I get over myself and get back at it soon enough. I find that I’m in one of two states, either I am noticing little leaps in my ability and understanding, which feels amazing, or I feel a little stuck and just seem to be plodding along as I go through the motions. It always swings, from one extreme to the other. I just try to be mindful and present, and bring myself back to giving all of myself to whatever task is at hand.
What style of tattoo do you enjoy creating the most and why?
Traditional Japanese tattoos, called Horimono or Wabori, most people refer to it as Irezumi but I think that word is loaded with extra meaning and history, which I cannot claim to be a part of. It is why I became a Tattooer. It is the culture and history behind it that I have been learning about since I was very young. In order to do it properly and give the art form, and the Masters who have developed it over hundreds of years, will be a life long journey of study and hard work. I am humbled by the beauty and depth of meaning this particular tattoo form has and hope to be a credit to its tradition one day. The aesthetics and philosophy’s behind it resonate with me but the more I learn the more there is to learn. Sometimes I feel I started way too late in my life. But here I am.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Ukiyo-E woodblock prints which has given Japanese tattoos their visual form. You can source almost everything you need from the great Masters like Kuniyoshi, Kunisada and Hokusai from the trappings and dress of particular characters you are depicting to the stories surrounding the mythical beasts and animals which represent certain qualities and ideas. I also draw inspiration from Japanese tattoo artists around the world today. Some of them have been kind enough to entrust me with some of their knowledge and their work is just mind blowing. There is so much beauty in the tradition and every artist puts their own stamp on a long line of outstanding masters.
What advice would you give anyone wanting to get their first tattoo?
Enjoy the process of unfolding the experience! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and listen to your artist if they have advice steering you to a long lasting beautiful tattoo. Be patient and don’t go with a cheaper option just because you want the tattoo now. You generally get the tattoo you pay for, so rather wait a while until you find the artist you are comfortable with or until you have enough money to pay for services from a reputable and hygienic studio. Patience is key.
From an artist’s perspective where is the best place on the body to get a tattoo, and why?
From the Japanese perspective your back is the place to start, and then you continue the theme you have created there onto the arms and legs and front side. Backs are large format and take commitment and time and even though smaller ‘one point’ designs are great for their versatility with regards to placement, there is something special about the composition of a traditional Japanese back piece. This is a full format called ‘Kame no Koh’ or “turtle back’ and starts from the bottom of the neck covers the full back, buttocks and finishes off halfway down the thighs. Seeing an image of a Dragon or hero from the Suikoden (Chinese novel made popular in Japan with characters immortalised during the Edo period in Ukiyo-E prints) with all the details of scales, ornate fabric and mikiri (background bars, waves, rocks, water and wind) is absolutely breathtaking.
What’s your take on tattoo healing and aftercare?
We have set protocols we tell clients, we suggest using Balm Tattoo products which we are very happy with and we ensure that we have an open line of communication with the clients afterward to ensure they don’t damage it in anyway. It’s a difficult time for the first week and a bit after a tattoo, there is a fair amount of discomfort and we try and help the client minimise how annoying it can be with advice on how to keep it clean and appropriately moisturised. The tattoo needs to be left alone after a certain point without too much fussing.
For anyone wanting to book an appointment with you, what’s the next step?
You can contact me via the shop email, email@example.com or you can DM me on Instagram @danielfeinberg or @heartandhandtattoo. WhatsApp is also an option on 0723068942. Let’s make some beautiful tattoos.
Tattoos by Daniel Feinberg
Photos by Alexander Wolf Photography.