Where to get inked in Cape Town
Thinking of getting some new ink? Whether it’s your first time or your hundred-and-first, it’s important to find a trusted artist. We asked some beautifully tattooed Capetonians what they think, and came up with a list of artists that locals love. They’re diverse in style, so there’s something for everyone. We’ve taken care of finding the right artists. All you need to do is book your session.
Handpoked Human Canvases, Vredehoek
Nichole Enslin is the artist behind Handpoked Human Canvases. Enslin started her career in design, but found she missed human connection. A few friends offered up their skin to practice on, and before long people from all over town were contacting her to get their own hand-poked design. She specialises in beautiful, intricate hand-poked designs. Think stippled floral designs, insects, and planets. She also has a penchant for the surreal, creating works with stunning detail. Enslin works from her flat in Vredehoek. She likes the intimacy, which suits the hand-poke technique. The space is calming and quiet, with loads of plants and stunning views of Lion’s Head.
Hoodoo Tattoos, Observatory
If gorgeous shading, soft colour, and delicate line are your thing, Chanel Ysel is the artist for you. She’s really versatile and can do pretty much any style, but she’s best known for her floral designs and watercolours. Her work is unusual and has a soft and feminine feel. The other artists at the studio also come highly recommended.
Lady Luck Tattoos, Gardens
Tanya Swemmer is the artist behind the Lady Luck name. She comes from an arts background, and studied industrial design at university. She draws influence from natural world, with a particular affinity for black ink. She’s master of dot work and her botanical designs are a favourite with clients. If you want detailed scientific illustrations, plants, and animals, done in an intricate and detailed black ink style, Swemmer is the artist for you.
Wildfire Tattoos, City Bowl
Manuela Gray started the famous Wildfire Tattoos in the bustling Long Street. She’s internationally acclaimed, and has even inked the skin of Queen’s Roger Taylor. She’s worked in film, and done painting, dressmaking, sculpture and technical drawing before she arrived at her true calling: ink. She’s experienced, skilled, and versatile—whether you’re after delicate shading or bold lines, Gray’s work is beautiful. She also specialises in geometric designs and animals.
Sleight of Hand Tattoos, Woodstock
Leigh Soulink is a well-known name in South African tattoo circles. He cut his teeth in a studio in Dubai. Today, he’s based in Woodstock and has over seven years experience putting down ink. He works at a large studio with three other artists. Leigh Soulink’s work is all about lines and dots. He’s detailed and meticulous, and his line sketches deserve special mention. He’s also really versatile. Even if you’re not sure what you want, chances are he can draw the perfect design for you.
Cape Electric Tattoo, City Bowl
Gareth Lloyd was one of the local artists representing at the 2018 South African International Tattoo Convention. His work is bold and striking, and harks back to the style of the 80s and 90s. If you want something big and colourful, Lloyd is your guy. He’s well known for his stylised animals and faces. Cape Electric Tattoo also regularly hosts guest artists, so check their website to see who’s in town!
Tomb Tattoo, Gardens
Shane Copeland at Tomb Tattoo is known for his bright and bold pop-culture influenced pieces. His shading and use of colour is phenomenal, and his work is bright and distinctive. Go to Copeland for quirky, colourful work with a dark edge. The studio is lovely too—it’s filled with artwork and trinkets, and located in a great part of town.
PALM BLACK Tattoo Co, Gardens
Richard Moir, under the needle-name Ninjabreadboy, is another hand-poke artist worth checking out. His work is quirky and often humourous, with a surf/skate and graffiti subculture influence. His designs are graphic and simple, with neat, bold lines.
Dark Horse Society, Kenilworth
Dark Horse is run by artist Baden Moir. The shop always has a rocking playlist going, and it’s a nice, relaxed vibe. Moir is versatile in style, and can bring pretty much any design to life. His line work is stunning, and he’s great at inky colour.