What is it like into a tattoo parlour? Follow me as I step into Full Sail Tattoos for more.
His hand begins to coil around a motorised pen filled with jet-black ink. As the artist presses down gently onto a foot pedal to control the movement of the machine, the rhythmic sounds of the buzzzzzz, buzzzzz, buzzzzzzzzzzzzing gun fill the room. “I am just going to do it slowly so that you get used to the sensation of the needle”.
I step away from the situation and turn to face another. “Ok take a nice deep breath in for me…”. A surgical needle injects quickly through a student’s nose and then…it’s all over.
Just off the outskirts of the Eastern Cape, in the small community of Grahamstown, lies the one and only tattoo parlour – Full Sail Tattoos. The current owner, Quintin Carnage along with his best friend of 8 to 9 years, Burt Viljoen, have been in the body modification business for most of their lives.
“I have been doing this for over 13 years” claims Viljoen “when I was younger I did this freelance around the east coast in bigger companies but now I have settled down in Grahamstown”.
Before the owner made his mark, Carnage studied Graphic Design at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). He decided to pursue his career of opening up a shop closer to home.
With Full Sail Tattoos being the only body modification specialization in town, the Afrikaans-bred artists are reeling in locals and students time and time again.
With an incredible rise in the number of studios over the years, happening worldwide, this subculture that has existed for centuries still seem to have negative connotations attached to them.
To most westerners, a tattoo means a skull and crossbones on a bikers’ arm, an arrangement of hearts, flowers or the words ‘MOM’ inked onto a sailors’ hand. Those who choose to modify their bodies in ways that violate appearance norms or reject prescribed alterations, risk being defined as socially or morally inferior to those who choose not to.
A popular misconception that body modification, of any kind, is they are usually assigned to people who should be ‘avoided at all costs and can immediately be identified as jailbirds, gangsters or misfits. However, in today’s generation, this has changed drastically.
From the moment you are born, we are bombarded with images of what society wants us to look like, and with a subculture of people who have various tattoos or piercings, they are essentially taking back power from a culture that doesn’t want them to stand out or be different.
In contemporary western society, limited body piercings, especially of women’s ears, for decorative purposes, seems to be a conventional norm. For example, the majority of women have their ears pierced. Whereas the nose, lips, nipples and other piercings of any kind are viewed with disfavour. Thereby making it a form of body alteration that diverts away from the mainstream values within society.
“People still associate tattoos and piercings with thugs and prisoners but today it is so much more than that. Today it’s an art.” – customer at Full Sail Tattoos.