Tony Barcelos’ work boasts the high quality that you’d expect from your artist. Meet him and his work in this week’s Tattoo Artist feature.
Brought to you by Zappa.
Full name: Tony Barcelos
Shop: Awhe Tattoo and Lifestyle Studio
Years tattooing: 9
Tattoo style: Black and grey realism, with a love for colour work too
Hourly rate: We base our rates by design at around R1000 an hour
Give us some background into your journey of becoming a full time tattoo artist?
To be brutally honest it was never something I really thought about doing as a full time job, my artist at the time saw some of my drawings and asked why don’t I consider it. She opened the doors for me, after five years in Pretoria learning the ins and outs of the business and lifestyle I moved back home and to my new family at Awhe.
What attracts you most to the tattoo industry?
For me it’s all the amazing people I get to meet, I’ve met so many great people over my almost 10 year journey. I look forward to meeting the rest of you.
What do you feel was one of the most important lessons you learnt while learning the trade?
Wow, there are so many things. Over the years I have learned the hard way that no-ones skin is the same. What you do on one person one day will work so well and then the next completely changes the way you think about your abilities. The biggest thing is that I learn every day.
Besides being etched into skin, what do you feel is the most unique feature of tattoos as an art-form?
Nothing says I’m comfortable in my own skin like a tattoo does. But, the part I love the most is that multiple clients might have the same idea of tattoo that they are looking for but the tattoos will be worlds apart when they are done.
Working out of Awhe Tattoos, how would you best sum up the vibe in the shop?
[laughs] Well I myself am a clown at work, but we are all so chilled. Always making jokes and playing pranks on each other. We are all a big happy family. You’ll love every minute you spend in our studio.
When not tattooing, what do you like to do with your downtime?
[Laughs] downtime? That’s funny. I’m off on Wednesdays so I pick up my son from school, grab a milkshake and hit the arcade for a few hours. When the family is asleep I enjoy doing some sculpture or woodwork in my garage till the wee hours of the morning.
Which local artists do you rate are on the top of their game at the moment?
If I had to say Callum Els is doing some really awesome things with colour, also it’s a direction of tattooing that I would like to push towards in the next few years.
Which piece has been you most challenging to date, and why?
It’s gonna have to be my wife’s back that we have started to cover up. It’s all my own work from when I was an apprentice. She let me practice on her all those years ago and it’s now time to use the things I’ve learned and do some upgrades. I’ll be sure to post up some before and afters so you guys can have a look.
What style of tattoo would you say you specialise in?
I hate that word “specialise” I don’t “specialise” in anything, I love tattooing. I love taking my clients ideas and materialising them. I mainly tattoo black and grey realism and I’m looking to do more colour, whether it be realism or not.
How do you like to keep motivated?
I’ve always said that you can never stop learning in this industry, so I watch webinars when they are available. I enjoy sculpting. Drawing has always been my passion.
If you could tattoo any celebrity, who would it be and what would you like to tattoo on them?
Hmm that’s a tough one. I’m gonna go with Mila Kunis, because I think it would be so much fun. As for what to tattoo, who cares man it’s freaking Mila Kunis.
For anyone wanting to book and appointment with you, what’s the next step?
Send me a DM on Instagram @tony_barcelosor @awhe_tattoo_lifestyle_studio, or contact the shop directly via WhatsApp or phone-call.
Tattoos by Tony Barcelos
Photos by Alexander Wolf Photography.