We’re excited to introduce Sky Constable as our featured Tattoo Artist. One of the best in the business and a current favourite with his incredible realism work.
Get to know him and his story of becoming a full time artist in our interview below.
Brought to you by Zappa.
Full Name: Sky Constable
Shop: I’m a traveling artist currently at Artrageous Tattoos in Benoni
Tattoo Style: Anything the client requests really, mostly black and grey realism but I love playing with all spectrums from traditional to colour realism
Hourly Rate: At the moment I charge a full day rate of R6000.00
Tell us your story into becoming a full time Tattoo Artist?
When I was 13 I started drawing designs for my teacher at school, she got that design inked on her and even though I had always loved the culture it was then that I knew what I wanted to do. I met a friend in 2009, John Martin (works at Awhe Tattoos currently) and it was crazy times. 15 years old going to house parties in Boksburg North, Klippies and Cola, and loads of dank. We built a tattoo machine out of a spoon, electric motor, bicycle spoke, cheap lighter, insulation tape, sewing needle and cut open phone charger to power it, we were fascinated by it and I did my first tat on myself in the living room of my dads house. We spent school holidays, getting smashed, inking all our neighbourhood mates, dreamed hard of getting somewhere one day and being good at what we loved. In 2010 I was working at a bottle store at the time to make extra cash, I walked into a tattoo shop with R700 that I owed my grandfather and asked the artist if they were willing to sell a machine [laughs], yes I was that guy! They gave me a few used needles and two tubes, I still remember they sold me a black cat coil machine. The next week John Martin and I walked back to the shop, saw there was a sign on the window “apprentice wanted” as we walked in they left us the keys and left us with the shop. Man we were in the holy grail, I still remember the first time picking up a brass MSL – I held it like a baby as if it were as fragile as a flower. Deep end it was and it’s been that way since then. I earned my place in a few shops climbing as I went and finally got to Awhe Tattoos where I met Theunis Coetzee, who I owe the most part of thanks to for getting me into tattooing as a professional career.
What about the industry attracted you to it?
I’ve kinda always been around tattoos, bikers, bars, day jols, Eastrand vibes. Watched my mother get a few tats as a kid, it used to be my favourite place to be and I’d stare at the flash on the walls for hours. Listen to the crazy uncles and their dirty jokes I pretended not to understand (was the toughest challenge trying not to laugh), just people not giving a f#ck. I always knew it was where I belonged.
What was it like starting out as a Junior artist and tattooing clients for the first time?
I didn’t ever really have that junior artist title. I’ve always been tattooing, made many many many mistakes and there are bunch of people I wish I could’ve inked better, but thank you for your contribution to where I am today (hence why an apprenticeship is so necessary). My apprenticeship was definitely not easy and not anything close to as easy as what these soft kids give up for in the industry these days.
My first real client was at the shop Johnny and I started at together. It was mad nerve wrecking having your mentor watch you.
What do you feel was the main contribution to your progress as artist?
My main contribution to progressing as an artist was other artists and to be opened minded. Steal with my eyes and live it, study it. It’s got to be part of your every day. It’s not a job, it’s a lifestyle and it has to consume you – you’ll never stop progressing if you keep trying.
What changes, if any, would you like to see take place in the local scene?
I kinda excluded myself from the scene. Wearing a tattoo isn’t as much of you earning and standing for something as what it is a fashion statement now days. But it has changed for the good I suppose and become way more professional – so financially I’m not complaining.
How do you see the tattoo industry evolving in the future?
Tats will/ have become like cars and watches, the better the quality the higher your status.
What are the perks of being a full time Tattoo Artist?
I’ve met thousands of people and spent hours on hours having interesting convos. I’ve learnt most of life’s valuable lessons through the broad spectrum of people I’ve met in my career. Ultimately, no one is your boss and you can make money anywhere or take care of yourself with your trade anywhere in the world, whether it be for trade or cash, whether it be prison or in the Bahamas.
Which was your first tattoo and are you happy with what you got?
My first tat was a shitty lil moon eye vibe I did with my home made machine on my thigh in my dads living room. I wouldn’t say I’m happy with it quality-wise but I f#cken love it and still have it.
What do you feel is the most important thing, for anyone wanting to get tattooed, to take into consideration before booking?
Most important thing to consider would be is what kind of art you like and then to do research on what artists you can find that do that style of art or something similar. We have so many people that don’t know how good a tattoo can look and they don’t do enough research on the artists. Be clear on what you want to have on your body and be clear of what style you like, whether it be realism, colour, black and grey, colour realism, etc. Then also to be sure on how clinically clean the studio is.
What style of tattoo do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy black and grey realism because it’s faster than colour and you can get a really cool piece done in a day, though I do I love all styles of tattooing.
Which of your creations is your favourite to date
I would say the Boarder Lands back piece I did recently is my fave for now. I love it because it sticks to one theme and the client gave me freedom to do what I wanted with his design.
How do you make sure you keep progressing as an artist?
I try my best to look at other artist work, watch them work, ask questions and develop on them to improve my own work.
Where do you see your career taking you within the next 10 years?
I’n the next 10 years I’ll be inking quite a bit less but spending more time on pieces. Hopefully not in SA.
If you could guest in any international Tattoo Shop, which would it be?
I’d love to guest in more than just one shop, tough one to answer really.
For anyone wanting to make a booking with you, what’s the next step?
If you’d like to book with me you can WhatsApp me on 0824185189 or DM me Instagram at @sky_Constable.
Tattoos by Sky Constable
Photos by Alexander Wolf Photography.