So am not a ‘millionaire’ …….., yet, 🙂

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As was indicated by the weekly paper called The Nairobian. The sub-title reads ‘With only sh 30,000 as start-up capital young artist has created a million worth empire that draws even Nairobi celebrities’

now some of that is true some of it isn’t ( I guess that is probably what helps them sell volumes, I don’t know. ) one thing’s for sure, I love to tattoo and honestly the little bit of fame I may have now plus the money is not why I got into it. That’s just what follows when people see good work, they will love it and either wanna own a piece of it or associate with it.

Now the article may have been spot-on on some of the details about my journey and how I have gotten to where I am right now, but they left out a really important chunk of the story……..,okay, well I decided to not share it out then. Hehehe.

Which brings me to what I wanna talk about, so before I got a chance to learn what it means to actually do a tattoo, be a tattoo artist and what entails a good tattoo, I was doing them in my mom’s living room? So I was what is commonly referred to in the tattoo world as a ‘SCRATCHER’.

So a ‘scratcher’ is basically someone who taught him/herself the art of tattooing without the benefit of an apprenticeship under a professional artist. An inexperienced, untalented, unclean and untrained tattooer according to the ‘Urban Dictionary’. Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t dirty or nothing, I adhered to strict hygienic procedures I had fished off the net and never re-used needles. So why am I telling you this? Why reveal such details that most would probably hear and go like ‘dude, keep that vibe to yourself yo!’ well it’s because I want to talk about scratchers from a perspective of someone who used to be one.

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The ‘tattoo world’ regards scratchers as the filth of everything not liked about tattoos, the scum of the earth! (Sorry for being too harsh) we have a fair share of scratchers here on this side of the Sahara (so been meaning to use that) and they are no different from the scratchers in the west. Upon further scrutiny though, it kinda becomes clear that they are not that much alike either. How you ask? Well al tell you. Here in Kenya specifically, there are not that many excellent tattoo artists to start with. There are even fewer masters as compared to the developed countries and those guys are the ones who are looked up to to give us the next generation of tattoo artists by some form of strict mentorship programs. But that is not happening. Artists are hungry to learn and be awesome tattooers but the few masters who can mentor them are either

  1. Not willing to take any apprentices
  2. Charging heftily for a mentorship program

But am not saying it’s all them, coz if it was, then ad still be a scratcher doing sub-standard tattoos but it’s quite obvious that Gathu my mentor did an excellent job in shaping my tattooing into what it is today. Still, he is just but one man and cannot mentor 6-7 guys at a time otherwise they’ll all be half baked. So with this scenario of supply not meeting demand, you get more scratchers flooding the market than the guys who can actually do a decent/good tattoo(s). You cannot however say it’s entirely the mentor’s fault, coz some of the people who want to get into tattooing are getting into it for all the wrong reasons. You’re thinking that once you become a tattoo artist BOOM! You’ll be making lots of cash and will be super famous and that a mentorship is only gonna be a waste of time with you being your mentor’s Bitch. So you dive in, scratch afew people make some quick bucks from some nasty Ass tattoos you’ve done and then you think you’re the shit. Well am here to tell you that that was me for a brief period before I decided to swallow my pride, humble myself and go through the proper channels to becoming a good tattoo artist.

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So yes being an apprentice will require you to be patient and yes it may take years before your mentor is satisfied that you’re actually able to do a tattoo and do it perfectly and still even after all that, it may be awhile before serious clients who want  good quality tattoos come to you. However if you’re truly passionate about becoming a tattoo artist, then all these things really won’t matter because you’ll be dedicated, driven and highly motivated and the whole world will see that in your work……,eventually. 🙂

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Dedicated to the Scratcher.

If Nairobi was like let’s say California, you would see way more tattoos and tattooed men and women than you are accustomed to. But it’s not, so yeah, so much for that. We are and for a very long time will remain as a conservative bunch of people and it is okay because that is what makes us who we are, Kenyans. This spuns from our folks, from their folks and from their folks before them.

It is however not uncommon to find a good number of us deviating from what is ‘the norm’ in our society and shunning the conservative nature that is ‘kawa’ to most Kenyans. This in turn gets us ‘ink heads’ branded as deviants and delinquents, weird and even crazy which oddly enough I personally don’t seem to mind. (I feel it gives me an edge over the rest of you ‘normal’ folks out there lol). By now am sure the picture I have painted in your head after all that rhetoric is of this heavily tattooed ‘jamaa’ from neck to toe right? Good. 🙂

So awhile back I met up with this young lady, that’s right, I sed lady, who is as tattooed as the word tattoo gets and guess what, she is as Kenyan as they get.

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Noreen Wambui Murray is a 26 year old young lady and a producer by profession. My 1st impression upon meeting her was simply WOW! With a visible sleeve that she is truly proud of, you know the story is only gonna keep getting interesting.

She got her 1st tattoo at only the age of 15, a rose on her chest and from there on she was totally hooked.

Her second tatt came knocking while she was in college. While in Kenya on holiday from her studies in the UK she decided to get tattoo number two a Chinese kanji symbol after her and her mum weren’t getting along to well. She admits to me that she got it to ’piss her the hell off’… well sub-consciously anyway since she had no intention of ever letting her see it. She did however see it and boy did Noreen get what was coming to her, lol.

Awhile later back in the UK, Noreen got tattoo number 3 which was rose number 2on her belly for her best friend whom she had lost. That was then followed by covering it up with a tribal which later acted as the tail feather of a swallow she got also on her belly.
Did I mention that Noreen is a proud mum? Probably even one of the coolest ones you’ll ever come across. Her daughter’s name is Aaliyah, prettiest little thing ever and her name is forever engraved on mummy’s back with 5 stars around it. 

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On Noreen’s leg is a really nice bow tattoo in memory of her ex who passed away in April while working a story about the plight of the homeless in a part of the UK where he actually had to live on the streets day and night. Sadly he succumbed to the harsh conditions.

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On her lower back is a tattoo of a pin-up girl which personally embodies who Noreen is and her character as a strong and beautiful woman.

At this point we were nowhere near tackling her sleeve tattoo, and just when I thought it was time to do so, she unleashes this sweet and big Black Panther tattoo on her thigh and I was just like WTH! I thought I loved tattoos or even knew people, who loved them, but Noreen certainly took it to another level and I was humbled.

Then came the sleeve and its symbolism to her life, growth and all that she had been through and had aspired to be. At the top of the shoulder is a very symbolic quote to her and a pair of praying hands. Further down we see a clock that is very much symbolic to her relationship with her daughter. A good versus bad skull head tattoos that reflect her struggle between having to finish school and wanting to work for the BBC (which she eventually achieved FYI).

This by far as an artist and as an individual was by far my favorite piece of them all, it tells the story of who Noreen is, what she has faced and over-come in her life, her past and future all rolled up onto her left arm. AMAZING.

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Asked what she would like to tell anyone who dares ask her why so many tattoos? Her response with that heavy English accent was ‘it’s my shell and I will decorate it however I like’ and decorate she has being one of the most devoted female ink lover I can now proudly say I know am inspired by her story, love her tattoos and absolutely respect her attitude and self-confidence.

Big-up Noreen.

Image  —  Posted: June 25, 2013 in Tattoos and Lifestyle

Here’s a crazy thought: imagine you’ve walked into a police station (that’s right, here in Nairobi) and the first law enforcer you see ready and willing to serve……………………………,okay, let’s not push it. The first cop you see has a sleeve that starts from the wrist and disappears into his short sleeved shirt. How cool would that be?

Or you step into a hospital and your ‘female’ doctor has more permanent ink on her than what she’s jotting down as you go on and on about how and where you’re ailing? Yeah, that’ll be the day.

We do not have that many tattooed Kenyans in the various conventional career fields, so the few that you or I stumble upon in my opinion…….., ROCK!

 

DSC03104  Meet this ‘jamaa’ Kevin Mwanza a 27 year old loving father and husband.

Before my interview with him I had never even once met the guy but had already branded him as a cool guy in my books. So come interview day this ink-head is rocking a cool black tee and jeans. (super casual as if he’s from diggz or something) when in fact he’d taken time off his day job as an integration engineer at a firm in Westlands to quickly come meet me and let me ask him a couple of questions about his tattoos and the story behind them. And I call him an ink-head basically because once you are no longer able to hide your tattoos or feel like you even do not want to, well then my friend; you are an ‘ink-head’

So Kevin’s first tattoo was done way back in 2002, it’s a tiny dragon that was done manually with a needle and thread (another reason why he is a serious ink-head) and took close to 3 grueling hours to complete. From there on however he was hooked!, and went on to get a couple more done.

 

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Even though he has a successful job title now, it wasn’t always like this for him as his first job totally had a problem with his tattoos despite his competence and fully met qualifications for the job. That didn’t deter him though and where he is right now is more than enough proof of that.

Try ask him which one of his tattoos is his favorite and I bet you a Gee the answer you’ll get is the dragon he got at ‘Yaya’ from ‘Abraham’ it’s located on his left arm and even the way he was looking at it when he was showing it off to me told me for sure that that was the tattoo he adores the most.

 

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As the interview was drawing to a conclusion, I couldn’t help but ask  this avid 9-5 nation builder his future tattoo prospects and I can honestly say I wasn’t expecting the answer to be ‘a very big back-piece’. But he sed it and hey, ‘go hard or go home’ has always been my motto when it comes tattoos.

As far as being tattooed and employed goes, Kevin truly earned my respect as well as a few other heavy inkers out there and went ahead to show me personally that your ink doesn’t define you or dictate your performance at the work-place but only just helps in expressing one’s self using a more artistic approach. Dedicating this one to the bosses. LoL.

 

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Inked Babes…, the best of the best

Now., we all love women!, well most of us anyway….., even other women love women, they are probably the most amazing and beautiful creatures out there and I am proud to say that I LOVE THEM!, (most of the time anyway) they raise our temperatures, cause us not to think straight, make us do crazy things. They got the power and they know it and there is very little we can do to stop them. (Sadly)

Plus size women especially get me very confused. (As most people who know me will attest to) There is however another class of women that will definitely have my neck turning my head…. ‘Tattooed Women’.

Ink on a woman seems to resonate more of a special reaction for me (and no am not talking about a boner.., per say), and will definitely have my attention even if it isn’t an ‘award winning’ tattoo, best be sure I’ll look.

 

So this week I thought i give ya’ll my tattooed women celebrity list. Ten of the most tattooed ladies in their various categories of what makes them notable to the world.

 

10. Jacki O

Not that she is like my least favorite tattooed celebrity babe or anything, no.., but we gotta start from somewhere right?

Anyway  Angela Kohn (born November 24, 1975), better known as Jacki-O, is an American rapper from MiamiFlorida, who is currently signed to her own label Jack Movement Entertainment. This hottie has got herself a sleeve, a belly tattoo and a chest tattoo that I look at often (as well as a rocking hot body) but no one has asked me about that, so al keep my mouth shut.

 

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9. Ray C

Back here at the motherland, we have one Lady who’s a beautiful songstress and is fairly inked.

Rehema Chalamila (born May 15, 1982 in Iringa) is a musician from Tanzania. Her music is a mixture of Bongo flavaR&B and taarab. She has a couple of visible tattoos including a belly tattoo, a wrist tattoo and an upper arm tattoo with what is sure to be a couple of discrete tattoos. Love her, hate her whatever! She has ink and that’s all I care about in the matter.

 

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8. Keyshia Cole

Tupac told us to watch out for this one when she was just a lil girl and boooooy was he right.

Keyshia Cole Gibson (born October 15, 1981) is an American R&B singer-songwriter and record producer. With a total of 5 tattoos this smoking hot singer has got mine as well as other’s undivided attention. 😉

 

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7. Megan Massacre

She looks so crazy and retro and she’s a fellow tattoo artist! (Boner!!) what? who sed that?, definitely not me.

In January 2004, Megan met a stroke of fate and started her tattooing career. Having a heavy artistic background, Megan had previously tried to get into tattooing, but after being told by her local tattoo shop that an apprenticeship cost $5,000, she was discouraged and returned to focusing on her studies. After high school and working at a dead-end job, Megan sought out new employment. She gave a friend a ride to work at a tattoo shop, had the opportunity to show off her drawing skills, was asked to do a tattoo and thence began her apprenticeship

This hottie is heavily tattooed and is some serious eye candy from head to toe (picks up jaw from floor)

 

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6. Brenda Wairimu

She is really pretty and neither I nor anyone else for that matter saying otherwise is a super hater. J glad we are all on the same wave-length.

This 22 year old part time model and professional actress sprouts a tattoo on her left shoulder blade of a ‘B’ with a halo ring and wings sexy, classy, AWESOME.

 

BRENDA

 

5. Megan Fox

This woman single handedly confused all the geeks and nerds who flocked theaters to watch one race of machines rise against the other…… something something…….,I forget this.

Megan Denise Fox (born May 16, 1986) is an American actress and model. She began her acting career in 2001, with several minor television and film roles, and played a regular role on the Hope & Faith television show. In 2004, she made her film debut with a role in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. In 2007, she co-starred as Mikaela Banes, the love interest of Shia LaBeouf‘s character, in the blockbuster film, Transformers, which became her breakout role. Fox reprised her role in the 2009 sequel, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen……., oh yeeeeeaaaah.., Transformers.., now I remember. hehehe…this super-hot babe may be inked but it barely adds much to the flawless woman that is Megan Fox.

 

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4. Kat Von D

Where do I even begin? Rock star, ink-head, tattoo artist, beautiful, sexy and gorgeous….,I should probably just stop before I make a mess. X_X.

Katherine von Drachenberg (born March 8, 1982), best known as Kat Von D,is an American tattoo artist, model and television personality. She is best known for her work as a tattoo artist on the TLC reality television show LA Ink, which premiered August 7, 2007, in the United States and ran for four seasons.

 

Kat Von D is covered in tattoos, literally. The star of TLC’s LA Ink and Miami Ink has tattoos on her back, arms, hands, legs, fingers, you name it. Many of them were done by her ex-husband Oliver Peck. Kat began getting tattoos as a young teen; her first was a horrible, large tattoo on her upper left arm that she had removed with a laser to make room for a prettier tattoo.

 

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3. Cleo Wattenstrom

So I honestly didn’t know much about this woman until I stumbled onto her on Tumblr the other day…., she’s my number 3 for a reason I tell you.

Cleo Wattenstrom is a 20 something year old mamacitta who resides in Stockholm Sweden, and works mainly as a tattoo artist and part time as a model. She is a mix of Ethiopian and Greek. That plus the level and amount of ink on her body…..,I do not have anything I can add to this ‘storo’

 

 

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2. Rihanna

I had actually thought of placing her as my number 1, but that’s too mainstream I think. Lol. Plus I love controversy when all the Rihanna lovers go like ‘why is she at 2?’ Well duuh, because of number 1 hahaha.

Robyn Rihanna Fenty (born February 20, 1988), is a Barbadian recording artist, actress and fashion designer. Born in Saint Michael, Barbados, she began her career as a result of meeting record producer Evan Rogers in late 2003. At age 16, she moved to the United States to pursue a music career and began recording demo tapes under Rogers’ guidance, subsequently signing a contract with Def Jam Recordings after auditioning for American rapper Jay-Z.

Rihanna currently has 18 tattoos. Her most recent one is a tattoo that takes up a lot of space on her stomach of the goddess Isis, which she got in honour of her grandmother in September 2012. Rihanna has admitted that tattoos for her are like an addiction. “I like hanging out in tattoo shops” Rihanna has said. “I am so intrigued by tattoos. It’s an entire culture, and I study it. Sometimes I go with friends, or just by myself. I get bum-rushed, but I don’t care. I don’t take security.” Rihanna is believed to of had her first tattoo done in 2006, two music notes on her foot. The most known tattoo artist that has created her tattoos is Bang Bang. Bang Bang has apparently done around 12 of her various tattoos. He told a magazine “She [Rihanna] always flips out [when it’s done] and jumps up and down like a 16-year-old girl getting her first car.”

 

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1. Angelina Jolie

Finally, ‘mama yao’ this is a phenomenal woman. A mother, wife, humanitarian and kick ass actress as well as a bunch of other things. She is the aspiration and inspiration as well as envy of women all over the world.

Born Angelina Jolie Voight; June 4, 1975) is an American actress, film director, and screenwriter. She has received an Academy Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and three Golden Globe Awards, and was named Hollywood’s highest-paid actress by Forbes in 2009 and 2011. Jolie promotes humanitarian causes, and is noted for her work with refugees as a Special Envoy and former Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). She has often been cited as the world’s “most beautiful” woman, a title for which she has received substantial media attention. Jolie lives with actor Brad Pitt, in a relationship notable for fervent media attention. Jolie and Pitt have three biological children and three adopted children. She has a serious love for tattoos and has at least a dozen tattoos over her body and she also has quite a lot experience with tattoo removal. Each one of her tattoos has a special meaning.

 

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Aside  —  Posted: May 21, 2013 in Tattoos and Lifestyle

A random 254 Ink

Posted: May 19, 2013 in Tattoos and Lifestyle

So am glad I managed to turn a week that seemed very much like it was from hell into a productive week of ‘kujenga Taifa’ (personal matters though that shall remain so). My first inking session that I had looked forward to for quite some time was with my mentor and sensei Gathu A.K.A Teddy bear (in-house joke of course). He’d been dying to get a chest piece and D-day was finally upon us, so like a warrior he lay there for a couple of hours until that outline was bold and solid. He finally called it quits though, but no one can take anything away from him because chest tattoos are the mother of Bitches if you ask me.

Big-up Teddy bear.

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Tattoo Thursday!., basically this thing I started whereby…………..…,you know what, the details are on the page just go check them out.

Justine my tattoo model would be Tattoo Thursday’s 1st participant and boy did we, I mean I have fun finishing off her thigh piece as she contemplated ways of making her pain reverberate back to me. Sorry sweery, but look on the bright side it’s done and it sure looks amazing. 🙂

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Next on the chopping block, I mean hot seat…….., okay okay my next client was Chris. This guy’s Polynesian half sleeve just makes you wanna get something similar, including the skin tone, but since you can’t you just look, admire, give it some salty jealous looks but once you take a deep breath you’re good to go…….,well guess what, he added a chest piece to the sleeve. Yeap. (Overturns table).

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Alright, am calm now!, moving on ever so swiftly to Friday where my good friend Kasina A.K.A Baba Roy and Mwende came over for a cover-up of some old ink he’d gotten ages ago as well as baby Mwende’s name. 4 hours later and reeling in pain he emerged from battle a proud and strong father with his price on the left arm. Cheers Kasych.

 

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Now, it’s one thing to get your 1st tattoo, it’s another thing to want it on your rib-cage and actually get it there. That takes some really big balls or in this case ovaries. Saturday saw this young lady brave a tone load of pain to get a really beautiful side piece of a lily, some vector swirls and stars. The sigh of relief I heard from her after I had sed ‘it’s over’ clearly told me one more minute in there and I was probably gonna get punched in the face.

 

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