Looking into Neo Traditional/ Neo Japanese tattoos? Look no further than our featured Tattoo Artist, Daniel Forster. Working out of Heart & Hand Tattoo Daniel thrives on creating neo-trad masterpieces, and we take an inside look into his career.
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Full name: Daniel Skye Forster
Shop: Heart & Hand Tattoo
Years tattooing: 6 Years
Tattoo style: Neo Traditional / Neo Japanese
Hourly rate: R800
Give us some insight into your journey to becoming a full time Tattoo Artist?
Well, from young, tattoos and the idea of getting tattooed has always fascinated me. The interest in actually taking it up as a profession only came after I started experimenting with graffiti and spray painting. Design and art had always been a huge part of my growing up, during school I always excelled in the artistic subjects and never showed much interest in anything else. As I got older I started showing more and more interest in the art of tattooing, started off by buying a cheap starter kit online and continued to teach myself how to tattoo for just over a year before getting my first proper apprenticeship.
When and what was the defining moment in knowing you wanted to become a tattoo artist?
I think for me, it was when I completed my first piece on somebody else that I was genuinely happy with. Aswell as seeing how happy it made that person. It gave me a complete sense of satisfaction that I had never gotten from any other profession I had been involved with. So I guess that was my defining moment.
How long did it take for your to learn the ropes and be completely confident in your work?
I’d say its taken a solid 4-5 years for me to reach a level where I’m confident in my ability to tattoo and my work as well, and the rate of growth in my career. I feel like I’m still learning more and more with every tattoo I do, but honestly I don’t think I will ever be 100% completely confident with my work. Maybe I just speak for myself when I say this but I think most artists tend to look for imperfections in their own work in order to improve themselves and their craft.
What was it like tattooing a client for the first time?
It was pretty nerve racking but completely exciting at the same time, it’s a strange feeling of uncertainty and enthusiasm that you don’t tend to experience much in every day life. The feeling of laying down the first line on skin, wiping and seeing it stick is one of the most addictive feelings ever and it’s part of the reason why I love what I do.
What are your pros and cons of the tattoo industry?
It’s a tricky question to answer, there are quite a few of each. I suppose something that could be considered a pro and a con is the sense of community amongst some artists and circles within the industry. I guess in any industry you’re bound to have your cliques and groups that stick together, which Is great, but at the same time it’s a shame that the tattoo industry and community as a whole can be quite closed off to one another (as I said, depending on what circles you may be in). We’re all here to do the same thing because we all love what we do, but that doesn’t seem to be enough for a lot of people [laughs].
What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?
I’d say one is definitely learning from the mentors and colleagues that I’ve worked with and getting to know so many rad people who share the same passion as I do. Aswell as having the chance to do some really rad pieces.
Where would you like to see yourself as an artist in five years time?
My goal, ultimately, is to travel and guest in studios all over the globe. Personally, my creativity thrives off seeing new places and being surrounded by fresh inspiration. So I think for me, travelling and learning from people all over is the best step for my career.
How do you make sure you keep progressing as an artist?
I think a massive part of development as a tattooist and the key to progression boils down to one main thing, and that’s never get too confident or complacent with your work and attitude towards what you do. I always make sure I’m continuously flooding my head with new inspiration, whether it’s watching the other artists in the shop tattoo and learning from what they do or keeping myself busy with other art mediums that might benefit what I do when I tattoo.
Which style of tattoo do you enjoy doing the most and why?
Throughout my career I’ve experimented with a few of styles of tattooing and I would definitely say what I enjoy the most is Neo traditional, purely because you can do so much with it. I love the level of freedom you have when it comes to creating neo-trad designs.
How would you best describe the vibe in the shop?
At Heart & Hand, the vibe is always lively, friendly and we always manage to have a great laugh. I couldn’t be happier being in the shop that I’m in and working with the people I work with. As well as being great colleagues and mentors, I strongly consider them my friends, which is think is super important when it comes to the overall vibe that carries through the shop. If you have tension between artists in the same shop it always shows.
Which local and international artists do you aspire to and why?
Man, there are so many locally. I would definitely say, Rasty Knayles (@Rastyknayles), Phillip Wells (@Philtattooist), Dokter Irie (@Dokter_irie) and Matt Holland (@Matthollandart) – the standard of their work and level of creativity is something I hold in high regard, as well as their individual dedication to the craft is super inspiring.
Internationally, there are way too many to list, so I think my top six would definitely be, Mitch Allenden (@sneakymitch), Antony Flemming (@Antonyflemming), Samantha Smith (@Scragpie), Sam Jackson (@Samfknjaxon), Jake Beniston (@Rexteeth) and Lauren Melina (@Laurenmelina) – all artists I look up to in a huge way.
Is there anything you’d like to see chance in the local tattoo scene/ industry?
Like I mentioned in one of my previous answers, I would just like to see more of a sense of community amongst ALL of the tattooists in the industry. There is absolutely no reason for us all to be so closed off towards one another.
For anyone wanting to book an appointment with you, what is the next step?
You can contact me via WhatsApp on 0769902661, through my Instagram @Danielskyeforsteror make a booking via the shop’s email.
Tattoos by Daniel Forster
Photos by Alexander Wolf Photography.