1 February 2013

Namibia: Forever in Ink


While the first tattoo ever done has been rumoured to have been accidental (with someone possibly having had an open wound and either touching or rubbing it with a hand covered in soot or ashes from a fire, leaving a permanent mark after the wound had healed), these days tattooing has gained more popularity, becoming a norm, if not a custom, within many cultures and societies.

For centuries, tattoos have been used to wordlessly tell a story. Whether you have a loved one's name inked into your arm, a tiny music note behind your ear or your entire upper body covered in snapshots of your life and likes, they can say a lot about you and your personality. Despite the increasing popularity tattoos have been enjoying (which can partially be attributed to celebrities such as Chris Brown, David Beckham and Kat Von D), they are still frowned upon in many workplaces.

While it seems like a simple enough decision, what tattoo you get and where on your body you get it can have a huge impact on your future. even though tattoos are a more common occurrence today than ever before, and even though many employers have no problems with them, many workplaces still have very strict policies against visible tattoos. it is therefore important to factor this into the equation when you start planning for your first, or your next tattoo. Face, neck and hand tattoos are most com- monly associated with criminals, jail birds and social deviants, and should best be avoided if you're thinking of a corporate career in the future.

Opposite Ends of the Spectrum

Cape Town-based Namibian model and student, Stacey-Anne Dentlinger got her first tattoo done by Fabian Nel after she matriculated in 2007. The tat- too, a large cross stretching from the nape of her neck to the middle of her back, later became her signature as a model. "it symbolises my faith and my truth," Stacey-Anne said, adding that she believes that "a tattoo should raise more questions than it answers."

Being part of an industry that places incredible emphasis on physical perfection, Stacey-Anne said that she's been lucky enough to never have missed out on modelling work because of her tat- toos. "in fact, all of the photographers i've done photo shoots with thought of my tattoos as 'amazing'." in the same breath, she told us that it all depends on the type of modelling you do, or what the concept behind the photo shoot is. "i always try to specialise in art and the portrayal of art through modelling. it usually works together well with my tattoos."

With over 60 tattoos covering his body, 22 year old rapper, entrepreneur and student, Julian 'Stitch' Martin quipped that he has lost track of where one tat- too begins and the other ends. "They're so intertwined that it has become one big tattoo, almost." And he adds that he is nowhere near done. Julian says he wants at least 80 more tattoos, in order to cover his entire upper body. "i know that sounds crazy, but most of them are small, to fill up some empty spaces. i've spent around N$10 500 on my tattoos and i'll probably end up spending a lot more."

Sporting an S on his chest, which like most of his other tattoos was done by Fabian Nel, and which is also the tattoo he is most well known for, this superman says that although getting tattooed is a painful experience, he actually loves the pain. "i wouldn't go so far as to say that I'm addicted to it, but it definitely is an adrenaline rush," Julian said.

To a certain extent, the reaction from people is the reason why he chose to work for himself by being an entrepreneur. "It's unfair how you get treated some- times, just because you have tattoos. I'm qualified, I'm studying, but when I walk into an interview, I get judged. That's why I prefer working for myself."

A common occurrence among tat- too enthusiasts is to get tattooed in accordance to a certain theme, which adds another dimension to the meaning behind the ink. Twenty-four-year-old Bronvan Cloete, a Warehouse Supervisor at Trade Ocean Shipping Namibia, sports eight tattoos, all of Japanese origin. "I've always been intrigued by old Japanese customs, especially the way of the Samurai," he said. "Each one of my tattoos tells a story. That's the beauty of my ink. It's art," Bronvan added. And like real art, good tattoos are expensive. Bronvan has spent more than N$10 000 on his ink over the past four years.

When asked what advice he would give to someone who was thinking of getting a tattoo, he said: "Put a whole lot of thought into what you want to get and who the artist will be. I chose David Chaston at Cape Electric Tattoos to do mine and it was a great experience. Also, do research to find out the meanings behind certain things. But most importantly, you need to be 100 percent certain that you want a tattoo, because you don't want to end up with a permanent mistake on your body."

Sore Regrets

Fiony Beukes, a 25 year old administrator at Consolidated Engineering Services said that even though she regrets the panther tattoo on her right shoulder, she's isn't opposed to tattoos. "I regret it because every person who sees it asks me if it's a dragon. It makes me die inside a little every time. I never thought it looked that bad, but I hate it now," she said. "But lucky for me, I'm currently having it removed," she added with a grin.

It all comes down to quality, as 23-year-old Sales Manager at Orion Computers Windhoek, Jean-Mari Uys Bezuidenhout, reiterates. "The tattoo I regret is of my star sign incorporated into a butterfly, on my lower back. The only reason I regret it is because it wasn't done properly and professionally." However, despite her regrets, she also isn't against tattoos. "A tattoo can make you feel sexy, even if no one else can see it," she said.

Never Would I Ever

"Tattoos are a cheap thrill!" said 23-year-old Marketing student at Prestige Academy in Cape Town, Ujama Swarts. "I would never get a tattoo, because frankly, the idea of being a granny and sporting ink traumatises me," she further explained.

Fifth year medical student at the University of Pretoria, Unotjari Kauta, agrees. "I'd never get a tattoo because I don't see the point of them. It spoils your body. It's like a brand. I think tattoos form part of a culture I have no interest in following," she stressed.

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