Meet Junior Artist Katleho Mokoena in this week’s Tattoo Artist feature, and get to know more about his lifestyle, passion for the industry, and the style of work he enjoys creating.
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Full name: Katleho Mokoena (@katz_mokoena)
Shop: Heart & Hand Tattoo
Years tattooing: 3 1/2 years
Tattoo style: Blackwork and illustrative
Hourly rate: R800
How did your journey into the tattoo world first start out?
Well, to be honest, tattooing has always been a fake profession I used to make jokes about when I was at the end of high school. I always thought to myself, if I wanna continue skateboarding then tattooing would fill out the work gap, but at the time my reality and culture just didn’t allow me to follow that. I then proceeded with seeking formal advice education and I went on to enrol for animation, that was short lived as I got into a motorcycle accident on my first year, so during my gap year for recovery I started drawing a lot as walking wasn’t really an option at the time. I skipped through multiple jobs after that so I could financially recover but non of them ever seemed to stick. To skip to the chase, when I got my first tattoo at Last Temptation Tattoos I was hooked and I started apprenticing at the shop, and about eight months later I did my first tattoo.
What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?
Getting the opportunity to have met all the artists I have and gaining knowledge has certainly been rad for me, when I started out my dream was a little narrow towards tattooing.
Where would you like to see you career take you?
I would really like my art to propel me to different countries in the near future, but at the moment I’m happy with what the industry and all the wonderful people are giving me.
Explain your passion for the tattoo industry, and what it means to you?
Tattooing started off as a skill I was just interested in, but now it’s everything to me. I mean the process is just majestic, from setup to tear down, from consultation to final product, I really don’t imagine myself spending time on anything else, my dog and girlfriend excluded.
What do you enjoy most working out of Heart & Hand Tattoo?
The homies at my shop are too damn dope, my shop has a collective feel, it’s so rad getting to see some of the best people in the industry doing what they do with their own little voodoo. I’ve learned so many different techniques and approaches.
What does a day in your life usually consist of?
My days are simple man. So basically it all starts off at about 7:00, that’s where I do my own form of meditation, then I do on average about a 6km morning run with my dog/ homie Ghost, then I’m in studio 9am – 4pm, then I pick my girlfriend up from school at 4:20 then we pretty much hang, jam, and play games.
Which local artists do you aspire to and why?
Shoo, I don’t even know where to begin. There’s gang talented people just in my radius alone, so I’m just gonna break it down to three people – Sarah Lee (@sarah_lee_artist) is one of my favourite tattooers ever, seeing her start and grow in such a short period was rad. My homie crispy Chris Herwitch (@xhris_inked), the patience and crisp smoothness under that machine is wild. And, of course Daniel Feinberg (@danielfeinberg), homie with the biggest heart and patience ever, his drawings are off the charts. I wish I could mention everyone.
If you could guest work in any international shop, which would it be and why?
[Laughs] If a had to choose I would probably wanna guest just next to Heedo Lee. Wherever he is, Seoul Korea, I think this guy’s process is like non I’ve ever seen before, and he does a lot of whip shading.
What style of tattoo do you enjoy creating the most, and why?
Blackwork and dot-work, because it all feels too free man. My approach to my design is more neo traditional and then when I tattoo, that’s when I go more illustrative. I really just like seeing saturated black and dots.
What do you feel is the best way to ensure you keep progressing as an artist?
All I do is push myself to be better than yesterday. I draw as much as I can, even if it’s not a tattoo, some of my drawings end up as flash anyway. I sort of pay special attention to my whole process as I discard and adopt new techniques everyday.
For anyone wanting to book and appointment with your, what’s the next step?
When you are keen on making an appointment with me you can email me at email@example.com. For a much faster response you can email the shop at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heart & Hand Tattoos
Contact: 060 814 7265or email@example.com
Address: Shop 20, Devon Valley Shopping Centre, Cnr 9th Ave and Rugby St, Weltevreden Park, Johannesburg
Tattoos by Katleho Mokoena
Photos by Alexander Wolf Photography.