Having recently opened his tattoo studio, Tried and True Tattoos, in Durban we bring you Mason Murdey as our featured Tattoo Artist. Get to know him and his style of work here.
Brought to you by Zappa.
Full name: Mason Murdey
Shop: Tried and True Tattoos
Years tattooing: 6 Years
Tattoo style: American Traditional / Neo Traditional
Hourly rate: R1000
Give us some insight into your journey of becoming a tattoo artist?
It wasn’t always a clear decision that I wanted to be a tattoo artist although I was always very interested in art in general from a very young age. As I got older I became pretty obsessed tattooing in all aspects, from the aesthetic, to the application and techniques, to the machines and just the culture of it all. It took me about two years and many different ventures until I finally landed my self an apprenticeship, which is where I learnt the basics of my craft and over years have managed to progress to where I am today.
What were some of the challenges you faced while learning the trade?
To put it simply, tattooing is not easy and anyone that says it is, is talking sh!t [laughs]. I know that personally, I am very hard on my self when it comes to my art and tattooing. I’d say because of this I wasn’t satisfied with the standard of work I was putting out but at the same time this pressure made me work that much harder so that I could tattoo what I pictured in my head, instead of just what my physical capabilities were.
How would you best sum up the vibe of your shop, Tried and True Tattoo?
My studio is definitely a welcoming place, clean, professional but still full of banter and laughs. I have created a place that I, as well as my clients and staff, are stoked to be in. It’s not the biggest shop but it’s definitely a place where I hope people remember their experience and want to come back to, and also recommend to others. In short, Tried and True is a place you can get a rad tattoo and leave having had a good time.
What does the tattoo industry mean to you?
This industry means a sh!t ton to me. It has literally given me a sustainable career, which I well and truly love and care about.
The industry has evolved a lot over recent years. What are you pros and cons of this evolution?
This is a question I could have a very long conversation about. But, to keep it short, I definitely believe that there have been some significant pros and cons during my short time as a tattoo artist.
A con being that there’s a massive misconception that we as artists can just churn out any style at the drop of a hat. Its art – we all have different styles and ways we portray and apply our thoughts and approach to the tattoos we do. Yes versatility is great to have but naturally we each have our own strengths and weaknesses, we’re only human.
Pros, hmm I’d say that there have been some really awesome and interesting advancements in tattoo machines, pigments, needles and equipment in general, which makes our jobs that bit more efficient. Another pro is how much easier it is to connect with other tattoo artists from around the world, which opens up great opportunities to learn and travel.
What have been some of the highlights of your career thus far?
Three significant highlights that jump to mind off the top of my head are that I met my girlfriend because she came to me for a piece, I got to travel and work in San Francisco last year with a good homie of mine who owns an amazing studio there and lastly I recently opened my own studio in Durban, Tried and True.
What style of tattoo do you enjoy doing the most, and why?
I definitely have a strong base which stems from traditional American tattooing, but as my style has developed over the years I think I’ve picked up a bit of a neo traditional look to my tattoos.
How do you like to make sure you keep progressing as an artist?
To be dead straight, I just have to keep reminding myself that if I’m not pushing to get better, there’s someone else who is. I want to be that guy that’s always on the grind, always learning and trying to improve and pick up knowledge from other tattoo artists and keep this amazing career strong and true.
What can you normally be found doing with your downtime?
I can often be found cooking or learning about and making cocktails. I enjoy making good food for my homies, so I often host dinners and that type of thing.
Which local and international artists inspire you?
Local artist, definitely my homie Shaun Deanwho I was actually in kindergarten with [laughs]. He’s always been a great artist even before he was tattooing. His whole style and approach to tattooing and art in general has always been something I’ve greatly respected and aspired to attain myself. International artist would be Jean Le Roux, his art and tattooing is just awesome, I am also definitely inspired by him.
What advice would you give someone wanting to get their first tattoo?
Do your research, find an artist with a portfolio/ style that suits what you’re looking to get done. Go chat to the artist you’re considering booking with and ask them questions about the process. I find it’s good to at least meet the person you’re about to trust with marking your body for life. Don’t ask for discounts, respect and trust their skills. But please, please, at the bare minimum, make sure they are genuinely good. Stop getting cheap sh!tty tattoos, it’s well worth paying for good work even if you have to wait a little and save up.
For anyone wanting to book an appointment with you, what’s the next step?
To book with me is super easy, send an email with a description, dimensions and placement of the tattoo you’d like to get along with some reference pics to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tattoos by Mason Murdey
Photos by The Put On dbn.