Full name: Rebecca Claxton
Shop: Trade Mark Tattoo
Years tattooing: 9
Tattoo style: Black work
Hourly rate: R1000
Tell us bout your journey into becoming a full tome tattoo artist?
I had my son in my first year out of school and hadn’t had much time to think about what I wanted to do career-wise. A friend of mine who was tattooing at the time and had seen my art work suggested that I apply for an apprenticeship at a local tattoo shop, which I did, got the job, and fell in love instantly. It was a slow and difficult climb from there as I didn’t have a traditional apprenticeship and ended up working alone for many years trying to progress as an artist but also be available for my son at any time he should need me. I honestly have Nic Lewis and Tarzan to thank for inviting me to work with them in 2014, where I learnt so much and I would never have got to where I am today without that very valuable experience. I am so happy to be working with them once again at Trade Mark Tattoo.
What were some of the hardest skills to learn when you first started out?
Pretty much every aspect of tattooing was really daunting at first because I am super pedantic, and the fact that my own work would be forever marked on someones body made me very eager to get as good as possible as soon as possible.
How would you best sum up the tattoo scene in Durban?
If we are talking about the people who collect tattoos, we are definitely progressing in terms of collectors seeking and being tattooed by more professional and talented artists rather than what’s cheaper and quicker. In terms of tattooers, in my experience there seems to be a decent community of artists who respect and support each other’s work.
What does the tattoo industry mean to you?
The industry has been kind to me, luckily, as I would be nowhere without the support I have received from fellow artists. It’s essentially my livelihood and my passion, so it means the world to me.
Where would you like to see your career as a tattoo artist take you?
I would love to guest at a bunch of great shops I admire overseas, as nervous as it makes me, and meet and learn from some of the artists I look up to. I just want to get better at what I do and broaden my knowledge, and a great way to do that is to watch and learn.
If you could live in the shoes of any tattoo artist for just one day, who would it be?
A really tough question, there are a lot of artists I look up to and envy!
Which local and international tattoo artists do you aspire to, and why?
To name a few, locally – Tanya Swemmer (big time) for her flawless and unique black work, Luke Smith (who has now emigrated) for his versatility between the crispiest fine line work to his kick ass colour pieces, and his all round incredibly broad knowledge of tattooing. Terrel Dane for his amazing execution of intricate realism, Tamar Thorn for her black neo traditional work. I would be here all day listing all of the local artists that I look up to every day for their epic craftsmanship and artistic abilities. Internationally – I really aspire to put out the quality and magnitude of work of Kelly Violet and Rob Borbas…dream big!
What style of tattoo do you enjoy doing the most?
I’ve always enjoyed black work in a multitude of styles, but lately I’m loving anything with solid bold line work shaded with some peppery textured black and grey.
How do you make sure you keep progressing as an artist?
Keep a close eye on what everyone else is putting out there, talk to other artists, and always have goals to work toward; styles and techniques I want to accomplish, aspects of my work I want to perfect, etc. I am always, always learning, so I make sure to soak in every experience, every day.
There are various ways and suggestions when it comes to letting your tattoo heal. Which do you favour the most and why?
Let your body do its thing. Your body will heal your tattoo just as it does any injury you endure. Trust us to put it in hygienically, keep it clean and your body will do the rest.
What is your step by step plan into looking after your tattoo?
Sometimes it differs from client to client depending on the nature of the tattoo and how their skin has reacted. But basically, keep it covered for the recommended amount of time that I give you, give it a thorough but gentle wash when you take the covering off, continue washing it gently each day without applying any creams or ointments. After a few days once it has started getting a bit itchy, dry and flaky, you can put a little aqueous cream on it once or twice a day.
If you weren’t a tattoo artist, what would you be doing career-wise?
I have absolutely no idea.
For anyone wanting to book an appointment with you, what’s the next step?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org call 031 303 8713 and chat to Tarzan.
Tattoos by Rebecca Claxton
Photos by The Put On dbn.