Meet Nathan Ferreira of Ting’s Tattoo Studio as our featured Tattoo Artist. We get to know more about his life as an artist, where it all began, what style he enjoys creating and what the industry means to him.
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Full name: Nathan Ferreira
Shop: Ting’s Tattoo Studio
Years tattooing: 2 years
Tattoo style: Neo-traditional and Black work
Hourly rate: R650
When did you first know that you wanted to become a Tattoo Artist?
I only realised after I had done my first tattoo that I wanted to pursue a career in tattooing, it’s a dream job that I never knew I wanted. I have always tried to pursue creative fields in my life but never seriously contemplated tattooing. I found out about Ting through friends, asked her to do a couple of tattoos for me, went on a date or two, started helping out at the shop, she bravely donated her skin for me to do my first tattoo on, and the rest is history.
Give us some insight into your journey of becoming a full-time artist?
From a young age, I was always passionate about drawing and being creative. I always knew I wanted to find myself in some sort of creative career field. Unfortunately, I always gave up creative paths for academics. In high school, I chose technical drawing over art so that I could study to become an Architect. I figured architecture was a good balance between creativity and academics. After completing my 6-year coarse I had obtained my master’s degree in architecture, I then decided that 6 years of architecture was enough for me and it was now time to chase my dreams. During my studies, I had picked up photography as a distraction from the insane workloads that come with studying architecture. I mainly shot local bands, I did a couple of tours around South Africa with local bands and a few international bands. I thought I would give photography a go as a full-time career, this didn’t work out as well as I had planned. I had heard of Ting as she sponsors a band called Dirty Moonshine. As a tattoo collector myself I thought I would have a piece done by her. One thing lead to another and I became the shop manager at Ting’s Tattoo Studio. Eventually, Ting let me create my first tattoo on her and so began my journey to becoming a tattoo artist.
What did you find were some of the hardest skills to learn and perfect?
Working with skin as a canvas can be quite challenging. It takes some time to learn how to handle skin while tattooing. Skin differs from person to person and from different parts on the body, this can make it difficult to create perfect lines. You have to know how different needle types can behave when tattooing the skin and fine-tune needle depth and angle while tattooing to get those perfect crispy lines.
What does the world of tattoos and tattooing mean to you?
I love what tattoos can represent. I find them especially meaningful when they serve as reminders and motivators. I find that no matter what design you get tattooed the image always reminds you of where you were emotionally and mentally at that time in your life. It reminds you of where you came from, where you were, and where you should be heading.
As a tattoo artist, it is so meaningful and special to be able to share intimate details of a client’s life and help them cope with issues they may be facing or celebrate whatever may be happening in their life at that moment through a tattoo.
How do you like to make sure you keep progressing as an artist?
Practice is always a good way to progress as an artist and luckily, I get loads of it. If I am not tattooing I always have some sort of design work that needs to be done. I find it especially important as a tattoo artist to familiarise yourself with drawing design elements such as flowers, skulls, shapes, etc. Being able to draw out your head, instead of tracing, becomes very valuable when tattooing especially if something goes wrong while tattooing such as a stencil that doesn’t transfer well or gets wiped away while tattooing.
I also prefer to redraw my designs completely from scratch without tracing or photoshopping a design together. This helps me understand anatomy, proportions, and how lines should flow. Creating designs from scratch also give my clients a unique and personal tattoo.
What style of tattoo do you enjoy creating the most, and why?
I enjoy the look of neo-traditional pieces. I like how the bold lines and simple colours hold very well over time. The designs are usually simple and to the point and are quite striking to look at.
Whilst I love Neo-traditional tattoos, I am becoming more and more drawn to black work tattoos. I think this style more accurately represents my natural artistic abilities. It reminds me a lot of the style I developed whilst studying architecture.
What does a day in the life of Nathan usually consist of?
My mornings usually consist of tackling emails or helping out around the shop. I then start taking appointments from 11 and if I’m not tattooing I’ll be doing design work during the day. Once I get home I do a bit of house work and get back into some design work if needed otherwise I hop online and jam some games with my friends. In between all this, I’ll do my best to look after Ting’s amazing little man, Rocco, he can be quite a handful at times but he has an unbelievable character and personality.
When not tattooing, what do you like to do with your spare time?
I am a big gamer! I enjoy playing online with my mates whenever I have free time. I am part of the PC master race, of course having built my own PC, which I am quite proud of. Ting and I usually always have a side project in the works whether it be building a tank for our resident shop caimans or a coop for Dina, our chicken. There’s always some sort of DIY project on the go.
What advice would you give someone wanting to get their first tattoo?
This applies to first-timers as well as experienced tattoo collectors. Do your research! Know what you want in terms of imagery and style. This helps to give us get a better idea of what you are looking for and helps us create a design that you will love forever.
Look up your artist and their portfolio. Your artist may have years of experience in tattooing but their strengths may not lie in the certain style you are looking for. Don’t ask an artist for dark heavy tattoo work when they specialise in soft and pretty tattoos!
And finally, don’t tattoo your calf, it hurts a lot.
How would you best explain the feeling of getting tattooed?
My best comparison to the feeling of getting tattooed is a cat scratch. A cat scratch that lasts 1 – 3 hours. It’s painful and irritating and the intensity of the feeling can vary from person to person depending on their pain threshold.
For anyone wanting to book an appointment with you, what’s the next step?
We have built a very useful system on our website where you can contact me or any of our other artists directly via email. Simply go to www.tingstattoos.co.za, then go to portfolios and choose your artist, click the tab for bookings on their page, fill out the questions, and click submit.
We will get back to you as soon as we can with a link to our online booking system. Alternatively, you can contact me directly via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tattoos by Nathan Ferreira
Photos by Alexander Wolf Photography.