SA tattoo artist to the stars on taking his skill abroad

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Tattoo artists Inkboy Que is ready to take his skill overseas.
Tattoo artists Inkboy Que is ready to take his skill overseas.

He is the tattoo artist to celebrities; Naak Musiq, Nandi Mbatha, Brown Mbombo, Babes Wodumo, Tipcee, DJ Tira, and many other Mzansi A-listers have been inked by him.

Famous US reality stars and tattoo parlour owners Black Ink Crew have also been in contact with him to join their team overseas. But due to the lockdown regulations, he is looking at traveling around winter.

Self-taught tattoo artist and businessman Sibusiso Cele (25) known by the alias Inkboy Que says being a tattoo artist comes with skill and understanding different skin types.

“Being a tattoo artist comes with being good at sketching, understanding the technicalities involved in the equipment, hygiene, and knowing and understanding people’s skin textures and colour,” he tells Drum.

With the growing number of black tattoo artists, Inkboy Que says more people are learning to work with darker skin. 

“Black people have always had the perception that tattoos are demonic, they are for certain people and that has changed. There are many tattoo artists on the rise working with dark skin, because not everyone can work with dark skin,” he says.

“Dark skin comes with many shades and textures and each individual’s skin is unique and takes a year of learning. I love experimenting and learning about all skin tones.”

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He did his first tattoo in 2013 after a friend, Mpendulo Shinga bought him a tattoo kit. The kit came with rubber skin that he used to practice on. At times he would work on people who didn’t mind him practicing on their bodies.

“Mpendulo had seen a file with my drawings and he thought I would make a great tattoo artist. So, he bought me a kit and asked to manage my bookings,” he says. It didn’t take him too long to get the hang of it and he made a few mistakes that he could easily fix.

“Being a tattoo artist requires you to learn as you go and to learn from other experienced artists,” he says.

“I have watched many established artists and learned from them, but as yet, there is no school in South Africa where one can learn and receive a certificate to be an artist. But as much as one can be, you need to learn techniques from someone more experienced.”

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Born in Johannesburg and raised in KwaZulu Natal; Inkboy Que loved to draw and paint from Grade 3. In high school, he took up Engineering Graphics and Design and Double Science (Physics and Science) as some of his subjects.

“I was the boy drawing sketches in maths class,” he says.

When it was time to go to university, he studied Mechanical Engineering but dropped out after six months.

“I realised that wasn’t what I wanted to do,” he says. “I wanted to be a tattoo artist and I was very clear about it.”

He sat his parents down and told them about his dream. He then joined Boys in Ink who were based in Durban until he received clients who demanded that he move to Mpumalanga and he worked with Nkanyezi Sibiya.

“After Mpumalanga, I moved to Joburg and worked at Soweto Ink before opening my home studio on Ruimsig,” he says.

It was during the lockdown that people demanded Inkboy Que do house calls. “I spent two months at Naaq Musiq’s home working on some of his tattoos, and I build a solid clientele for me to go on my own.”

He's currently mentoring a young artist in Joburg and one female artist in Durban. Inkboy Que says he wishes more women would become tattoo artists. 

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