As part of their Live In Levi’s campaign I’ve decided to document some of my favourite people in Cape Town by throwing on a pair of Levi’s and going on an adventure. My plan is to document all the craftsmen of a new generation, people who are experts at what they do without being conventional.
The first is the mother of tattoos in Cape Town, Manuela Gray. This lady is the ultimate tattoo rockstar on every level, and the sweetest person you’ll ever meet. I’ve now had 2 pieces done by Manuela and despite the fact that she is next to impossible to book, when you finally sit down with her the experience is amazing.
Being the only one of her friends who could draw when they were kids, she fell into tattoos by doing them from a very early age. The rest, as they say, is history. Now Manuela travels the world tattooing her rockstar friends, well that’s when she’s not home in Cape Town working 15-hour days at her shop Wildfire Tattoos, organising the Cape Town Tattoo convention, holding art exhibitions and being the worlds most awesome mom! And, when I say tattooing her rockstar friends I’m not kidding – she just came back from destroying Los Angeles while touring with Queen! Insane!
I’d been meaning to get a tattoo with Manuela for ages now, she did a great piece for me when I first got to Cape Town, a little something to remind me to “hold fast” while I ride out the proverbial storm of moving cities. This piece was a little more personal but, in brief, it represented a long journey in love and reminds me that I’m still fighting the good fight!
I walked in one day with a ton of references – all completely different – but somehow, 3 months later, when I arrived for the appointment, Manuela had nailed the design perfectly. We spent ages making sure the placement was perfect, and then I sat for 3 hours in enjoyable pain. The result: my favourite piece to date! Here’s a little photographic story:
Okay. Stay Fancy.