Introducing Sheldon Smith is our featured Tattoo Artist. We delve into his career as a full time artist, how he got started, what style of tattoo he enjoys creating the most, and more…
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Full name: Sheldon Smith
Shop: Black Book Tattoos
Years tattooing: 6
Tattoo style: Neo Traditional / Traditional / Black and Grey
Hourly rate: R1000
Give us some insight into your journey of becoming a full time tattoo artist?
Having grown up in Durban, I was always surrounded by graffiti and took a serious interest into it at the age of 14. Having been in graffiti for 10 years and constantly seeing it being cleaned off the walls or trains, I decided to find a way to have a more permanent canvas and have my art live forever. I had always had family with tattoos and always had something that drew me to it. I started an apprenticeship 11 years ago at Winston Ink in Durban, literally walked into the studio the day I wrote my last Matric exam and started that day. Unfortunately the shop closed soon after and I moved up to Joburg six years ago and got into Dakota Lee and haven’t stopped since then.
What does the world of tattooing mean to you?
Tattooing is my life, it’s my freedom and expression. It’s given me the opportunity to be myself and help others feel that they can express themselves through tattoos.
What have been some of the highlights of your career so far?
I would definitely say having gone private has been the biggest so far, otherwise it would be the friends and experiences I’ve made through tattooing.
Where would you like to see your career take you?
To simply just keep getting better. Hopefully have a few international guest spots happen in the near future and travel a bit while tattooing.
How do you like to make sure you keep progressing as an artist?
I push myself to do better than the day before, ignore what’s going on around me and stay focused solely on myself and my own art.
What style of tattoo do you enjoy creating the most, and why?
Neo Traditional animal tattoos are my absolute favourite. I love animals and the joy they bring people, seeing people get so stoked with their animal’s tattooed on them forever makes me stoked.
What does a day in your life usually consist of?
Lots of coffee, Monster or Red Bull. I’m always up at 8am with the first cup of coffee and get started with admin before starting my client at 9:30. I normally have full day sessions with clients so after the client I do the next day’s design and catch up on admin.
What do you like to do with your time off from Tattooing?
The sacred days off are either spent at an outdoor market with my wife or you’ll find me at a motocross track. If you can’t find me out then I’m relaxing at home either gaming or building cafe racers.
Given the opportunity to tattoo any one person, who would it be and why?
Would definitely be my dad. He always asked me for a tattoo but we never got to doing one for him before he passed away. It’s a memory I would love to have had with him.
What advice would you give someone wanting to get their first tattoo?
Really think about what you want to get, the size, the placement. Your first tattoo will always have the most meaning to it. Know what style you want to have it done in and when looking for an artist, look at their portfolio more than anything else. Enjoy the experience, it probably won’t be your last [laughs].
Tattoos by Sheldon Smith
Photos by Alexander Wolf Photography.