the mark of time
The rise of SA’s tattoos industry
The perception of tattoos has changed in SA. So has the industry. Michael Schmidt inks a tale of its development
When I was five years old, Sandton was still a pig farm and my uncle was the only one in the family with tattoos — and then only because he was in the merchant navy and had crossed the equator.
Today, Sandton is Africa’s wealthiest high-rise enclave and the suburbs around it support more than 20 tattoo parlours, with a similar density in SA’s three other big cities of Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban. An estimated 700 parlours nationwide turn over perhaps R60m a year...