Specialising in Anime and Cartoon Themed New School style tattoos, we bring you Jonathan Esterhuyzen as our featured Tattoo Artist. Find out more about him and his work below…
Brought to you by Zappa.
Full name: Jonathan Daniel Esterhuyzen
Shop: Vitamin Ink Tattoos
Years tattooing: 3 Years
Tattoo style: Anime and Cartoon Themed New School/ Realism/ Blackwork
Hourly Rate: 1500.00
Tell us your story of how you became a full time tattoo artist?
Back in 2015 when my wife finished her apprenticeship we opened a private studio together. I funded it and managed it because I have some corporate and management experience. I then started drawing and learning a few things about the industry. One day I woke up and decided I need to learn the skills in order to tattoo, so I began the long process of my apprenticeship, I struggled with no drawing experience but I was able to learn the skills through lots and lots and lots of practice and determination. I was quite lost at first figuring out what I wanted to do but I had an affinity for colour, so focused on that first and then worked my way back towards black and grey. Once I decided to go into Anime style tattoos things picked up for me quickly and I was able to settle down and focus there and find myself as an artist.
What first sparked your interest for the trade?
I lived in Europe for four years. I was in a Metal band there and our band was sponsored by a tattoo shop for Battle of the Bands, I ended up going there from time to time to hang out, I thought tattoos are cool as heck.
When I moved back to South Africa my wife, who was my girlfriend at the time, had started an apprenticeship and I hung out at the shop and felt a connection with the tattoo industry there even further.
What does a day in your life usually consist of?
I wake up around 6am, have coffee and family time with wife and kiddo, Hit the gym by 8am and then at 10am I’m ready to start the day’s work. I am usually well booked out with full day sessions doing big projects so I’ll be tattooing from 10am-6pm then I take an hours break eat something and start the second session of the day from 7pm-11pm. Then I go home, eat, shower, sleep and repeat. I live stream all my tattoo sessions on TikTok, which makes the days go by fast as they are long.
What does the world of tattoos and tattooing mean to you?
Tattooing is a creative outlet for me and my clients, The conversations I’ve had and relationships I’ve had with clients are memories and experiences that I treasure. I’ve been blessed to make friends and network well in the industry so I keep finding wonderful opportunities to work with and meet amazing people. There’s so much to learn every single day and that excites the heck out of me to get up and do something and I always expect the unexpected, and that keeps life fun and unpredictable.
If not tattooing, then what?
If I have free time I spend it with my family, play video games, and watch Anime. Currently I’m playing Elden Ring and watching One Piece.
What style of tattoo do you enjoy creating the most and why?
I love full colour Anime portraits, I’m honestly a super geek at heart and it really is a great bonding experience between myself and my clients when we tattoo pretty pictures and talk geek all day. I also enjoy the bullet sweating challenge of realism.
How do you like to make sure you keep progressing as an artist?
I try to do something new and different with most tattoos and experiment with styles and concepts I’m unfamiliar with so I can constantly gain more experience and knowledge. I have quite a few friends in the industry who offer me advice and critique on how to improve. I visit shops of friends and watch them tattoo and try to learn from them as much as I can. There’s so much that can be learnt in tattooing if you just open your eyes and mind. I also watch the live streams of many tattoo artists to try learn what they do and how they do it.
Where would you like to see your career take you?
I would love to move my work abroad someday to be able to reach a broader market in my target market, which is currently quite small in South Africa. I really enjoy going to conventions so I’d love to attend the super crazy American and European conventions. Hope to also get some sponsors one day that in my eyes is just a collaboration with different businesses and brands, which can benefit both parties and opens new doorways for one’s career.
Given the opportunity to work alongside any local and international artists, who would they be and why?
Local artists – Hi Contrast (who’s now abroad), His eye for high contrast realism is amazing and I love how he shapes his work.
Kyle B, The man has the ability to shape beautiful tattoos with dark shades and they’re always gorgeous. I would love to spend a few days learning from him.
Rocio Todisco, Her colour knowledge and shape understanding with Neo Traditional is mind blowing and I would love to spend a few days learning from her too.
Joey Saso, Amazingly kind person and has an eye for detail in both colour and black and grey that makes me envious in a good way.
International artists – Brando Chiesa, He creates amazing illustrations of Anime and Pop Culture characters and turns them into amazing Neo Traditional tattoos.
Simon Bell, His understanding of colour contrast and depth is to die for.
For anyone wanting to book an appointment with you, what’s the next step?
They can WhatsApp or Email the shop on 079 1820 133 or email@example.com.
DM’s are open on Instagram too @shittywizardtattoos or @vitamininktattoos.
Lucy manages all my bookings. Consultations are free of charge. I’m always honoured when more people want to work with me.
Tattoos by Jonathan Esterhuyzen
Photos by Alexander Wolf Photography.