With a style of work that has become recognisably distinctive, we present to you, the man himself, Tyler B. Murphy as our featured Tattoo Artist. Get to know more about one of Cape Town’s finest as he talks about his 18 year span within the industry.
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Full Name:Tyler B. Murphy
Shop:Sins of Style
Years tattooing:I have been tattooing since 2001. That makes it 18 years so far.
Tattoo style:I enjoy making black line work tattoos that look like woodcuts or etchings. The illusion of grey is created by tapering the lines. I also enjoy doing Asian inspired tattoos, lettering and prison style hand-poked tattoos. I’m not scared of doing a single needle piece either.
Hourly rate:We currently charge R1300 per hour.
Tell us your story of how you became a full time tattoo artist?
I started working part time at Wildfire Tattoos in 1995. I was strictly a cleaner when I started, it turned into an apprenticeship as I proved my competence. I used to make needles, scrub tubes and draw up client designs for 5 years before I started tattooing customers. Simon White and Manuela Grey taught me along with two other guys at my shop.
In your opinion, what was the hardest skill to learn?
I learnt along the way that being honest and polite, is not something you can learn on the job. You have to have that inherently in you before you try make a career choice. Being honest and polite helps you meet the hardest challenge, dealing with clients.
How would you best explain the vibe in your shop, Sins of Style?
The way we organise the shop has come together in the best way to put the artist in service of the style of tattooing that they enjoy doing most. That will make sure they get better at what they enjoy doing, and the clients get the best we have to offer. It creates an atmosphere of relaxed confidence.
What are your pros and cons of the local tattoo scene?
The local scene has changed over the years. We were the only shop on the Eastern side of the city for years, now days there are four other shops this side. There are many tattooers in Cape Town now, but more so than ever they are making quality tattoos across the board.
What does the tattoo industry mean to you?
The tattoo industry is a way to make a living by putting your heart into art. Not every art form has such a solid payment structure built into it. I am grateful for tattooing every day. Tattoos are magical, industry means to create, and we get paid to make magic. What could be better than that?!
What style of tattoo would you say you specialise in?
I had a couple of years recently where I was thinking that I specialised in a style. The reality is that I enjoy the variety of the work that I do. It is in part because I am requested to do many styles, and out of a competitive arrogance you become entangled with after years of giving your best. The simple answer would be black etching, line work, but life and tattooing are too complicated for simple answers.
How do you like to make sure you keep progressing as an artist?
I think it is important to make art outside of tattooing. You need to give yourself a space where mistakes are tolerated and even encouraged. Otherwise you run the risk of making strictly safe artistic choices. Safe art is an oxymoron in my mind.
What inspires you?
I am inspired to travel by being still for too long. Once I am moving I get inspired to take photos. After a few weeks I get ready to be still for a while again, until the cycle repeats.
When not tattooing, what do you like to do with your downtime?
I enjoy making hand painted signs and painting with spray paint. I would like to say I still skate from time to time, but that is getting close to being just an idea.
Which artist/s do you feel are on the top of the game at the moment?
Everyone at Sins of Style will tell you the David Noellert (@davidnoellert) from Good Work Tattoos in New Orleans is the best. We call him Happy Dave, and he tattoos better than anyone.
What advice would you give someone waning to get their first tattoo?
Don’t under-estimate the fun you are able to have on the ‘what should I get tattooed’ seesaw. It is never again as thrilling as it is the first time. Enjoy the thinking process.
For anyone wanting to book and appointment with you, what’s the next step?
You can call Kari at the shop on 0826573973 or email the shop at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tattoos by Tyler B. Murphy
Photos by Epix Shoots | Instagram.