Although only tattooing for around two years, a foundation as an artist helped Emilia Glover take to tattooing far more rapidly than most, and it shows in her incredible work. Meet Emilia as our featured Tattoo Artist.
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Full name: Emilia Glover
Shop: Sally Mustang Tattoos
Years tattooing: +-2 years
Tattoo style: Fine-line, Realism, Sketchy, Illustrative, Colour and Black and Grey
Hourly rate: Fixed rate per design depending on size, detail and placement (I don’t do hourly rates) Minimum R850 quote
Tell us about your journey of becoming a tattoo artist?
I began my artistic career by studying and working in 3-D animation. However, I felt stuck with creatively limited advertising work, I then decided to move to graphic design in hopes of more opportunities and creative freedom, but it didn’t feel like it was enough. I was introduced to the tattoo world by Rodney Van der Bergh (@rev_rodney), he was in my Krav Maga class at the time. I taught him how to use Photoshop while he taught me how to tattoo on fake skin in exchange. This made the idea of tattooing a little less intimidating, but before I had even considered touching skin with a needle, I knew I needed an apprenticeship and experience at a good studio. I went from studio to studio with my portfolio and Sally Mustang Tattoos took me in. Tory Sutherland-Dadds (@tattoosbytorysa) was my mentor and taught me how to tattoo. She has always been patient, kind and knowledgeable and never made me feel like I was below her. I could not be more grateful.
When did you first know for sure that this was the career for you?
I always wanted to do art full-time but wasn’t sure how I could make money and be creative on a full-time basis. When I was younger, I thought I wanted to be a concept artist for the game industry, but South Africa had very limited opportunities at the time. I didn’t feel fulfilled as a graphic designer with the creative limits of corporate identity and logos. I ended up doing concept art on the side for private clients to fulfil my need to create. Tattooing has been the answer to my quest. It feeds my creative soul, allows me to support myself and has enabled me to develop my skills as an artist. My foundation as an artist helped me take to tattooing far more rapidly than most. Although I was initially very nervous to ink on skin, I realised that it was simply a new medium for the same skills. I spent much of my time with Tory working to understand how skin differs from paper.
How do you feel the industry has evolved over recent years?
Tattoo technology has significantly improved. Fine lines were really hard to create a few years ago as a lot of artists had to solder their own needles and tattoo machines were very limited. Now, we have a wide variety of different machines that suit each individual artist’s needs! I prefer rotary light-weight machines that are easy on my wrists and tiny hands.
Explain the experience and vibe of working out of Sally Mustang?
We have a really positive vibe full of passionate and creative people. Our boss only hires individuals that don’t have an inflated sense of self-importance; they are open and always willing to learn. Although there is an atmosphere of healthy rivalry between us, everyone is always more than happy to help each other out, whether it’s sticking on a stencil or creating a challenging design. We feel like a little family! If we’re not tattooing we’re having a couple of laughs over some coffee.
What style of tattoo do you enjoy creating the most and why?
I love creating fine-line work because it’s challenging and looks really delicate. You need stable hands to stand out in the industry with this particular style. I like the intricacy, neatness and creative room that the style holds.
Explain your ultimate tattoo creation?
That’s such a hard one to pin down! There have been many tattoos I have really enjoyed creating. My favourite creations are works that really move people, whether it’s a portrait of their favourite pet, a cover up of a scar with painful memories or a memorial tattoo of a lost loved one. I feel like I have made a small but lasting and beautiful difference in their lives.
I also love tattooing seniors who have never had tattoos before. My oldest client was an 85-year-old woman who got her very first tattoo. It’s such a privilege and an honour to tattoo people who changed their mind-set about getting inked. It takes courage to get a piece after all these years of tattoo prejudice.
What are some of the more interesting requests you have received?
I had a lady who wanted an enormous head of an elephant covering her whole torso and chest area as a first tattoo ever. She wanted the ears to be on her breasts and the trunk to go all the way down to her bellybutton. She wanted her entire torso covered by a giant elephant head!
I once had to design an alien tattoo, it was a very unique request that took time to look tasteful and I was able to create something original that I really enjoyed.
How do you like to make sure you keep progressing as an artist?
I believe you can never stop learning and growing. Your artistic ability defines the quality of your tattoos. I always research and look for references when it comes to my pieces and make it a habit to practice my art after hours. I paint in watercolours or draw with charcoals in my spare time. I still ask my mentor and colleagues for tips and tricks. I feel really responsible when it comes to inking and I want to make sure I am giving my clients value.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I draw a lot of inspiration from photos of nature to create my pieces and use my design background to give them a unique feel. I am inspired by various kinds of artists both inside and outside the tattoo industry from all over the world on Instagram, I watch how they work and pay attention to their creative process.
For anyone wanting to book an appointment with you, what’s the next step?
You are welcome to email firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp my shop manager Misty on 064 064 8424 to get a quote and secure a booking. Please include your visual references, size of the tattoo in cm and where it will go on your body.
Sally Mustang Tattoos JHB
Contact: Tel: 011 809 8094 | WhatsApp: 064 064 8424 | Email: email@example.com
Address: 11 Charles Crescent, Sandton, Johannesburg.
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Tattoos by Emilia Glover
Photos by Alexander Wolf Photography.