The talented Romi Ding of Outcast Tattoos 818 is our featured Tattoo Artist. We delve into her career, style of work, and more in our interview below…
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Full name: Romi Ding
Shop: Outcast Tattoos 818
Years tattooing: Almost 4 Years
Tattoo style: Handpoke, Black and Grey Illustrative and American Traditional
Hourly rate: I usually charge per piece based on the size, style and placement. Starting price is R750 and Handpokes are R500 per hour.
Tell us about your journey into becoming a full time tattoo artist?
I actually studied computer science, hoping to become an IT person of some sort working away at a computer all day. Growing up in an Asian household, Art was not something you could pursue as a career. After starting my second semester in software engineering, I soon realised that I was not destined to become an IT person of some sort and, to the grief of my parents, decided to drop out and do some soul searching.
I did the most rebel thing an Asian girl could do and I got a tattoo… and well I was hooked. I loved the experience and most of all I loved the confidence my tattoo gave me. It was the first thing I ever did just for me.
I decided that I would seek out an apprenticeship and follow my love for art. I completed my apprenticeship under Ting Thorne and thereafter tattooed alongside Chelsea Marsh in her private studio. I was inspired by both these ladies and they both prepared me for journey.
What first attracted you to the industry?
Self expression. It was this safe place to be you. Be you completely, authentically and without judgement.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I’m inspired by strong female artists. Although our industry is no longer as male dominated as it was, there are still challenges we as female artists face each day. I follow local and international female artists closely and find their approach, client interaction and their work ethic inspiring.
What style of tattoo do you enjoy creating the most, and why?
Handpokes! They are so much fun to create as it’s the ultimate labour of love. It’s amazing what can be achieved without the machine. Give me anything with fine details or bold lines and I’m happy.
How do you like to make sure you keep progressing as an artist?
Each day in the studio is an opportunity to progress. I try to look at each design, each interaction and the actual execution of the tattoo as an opportunity to improve a certain skill or opportunity to learn something new. I’m slowly moving outside of my comfort zone by trying out new styles, right now my focus is black and grey realism. The team at Outcast have been amazing teachers.
What do you love most about your job?
Hanging out with my fellow artists, listening to rad music and making art. Our shop is such a vibe and I feel happy seeing my clients enjoy our company and walk out having had a really great experience along with a beautiful piece.
What does a day in the life of Romi usually consist of?
First, a big breakfast. I usually eat a giant bowl of oats to keep me fuelled throughout the day. Some days, it’s hard to get a full meal in so snacks are important. Besides eating, you will find me tattooing, joking with my fellow artists and making several requests for the music to be changed. Back at home after the day, you will find me hanging out with my loving boyfriend and our pitbulls.
If you were not a tattoo artist, what would you be doing with your life?
I would be a Yoga Teacher. Yoga keeps me sane!
What do you like to do with your down time?
I take ballet classes every week as well as practice yoga. I also invest a lot of my down time into training my pitbull Gypsy, she is like my little baby.
Where would you like to see your career take you?
Overseas at some point (when it’s not a pandemic). I would love to tattoo in Thailand and Bali and get a feel for the industry there, also there’s a beach!
Which local and international artists do you feel are at the top of the game at the moment?
My amazing colleague Larnelle is making huge ripples. Adam Megens as well as Meghan Ann are really standing out for me.
Internationally, I love the work of Jenna Bouma, Tati Compton and Grace Neutral, doing some huge handpoke pieces.
Also can’t not mention Paige Beckett.
Tattoos by Romi Ding
Photos by Alexander Wolf Photography.