Tattoo culture: Where to get inked in Joburg

12 Jul 2023
With the rise of tattoo culture, we thought it fitting to give guidance on where to get inked in Joburg. So, we turned to our resident ink expert – and a member of our content team, SJ Ward (they/them) – for some tips. 

SJ's tattoo journey began on a random afternoon in 2017, when they entered a very intimidating tattoo shop and got their first ink – a small piece that reads “Faith” in a delicate script. This quick piece sparked their love for the art and soon had them saving every extra bit they could to get their next one. Tattoos have since become a huge part of SJ's life, as they've shown them that they can use their body as a big, beautiful canvas.
Where it all started, SJ's first tattoo. Photo: SJ Ward. 

"It’s the excitement of having a piece designed specifically for you, the thrill of hearing the tattoo needle buzz, and the satisfaction when it’s all over and you get a glimpse in the mirror," enthuses SJ.   

SJ admits that the tattoo world is a little intimidating for those new to being inked, and it can be daunting to walk into a shop or studio with artists covered in skulls from head to toe, and then ... there you are, getting your first, tiny butterfly.

Tattoo culture has also been reserved for a select, edgy few. For many years it was associated with bikers, musicians and artists. But as the industry and culture grows and becomes more accessible, it's no longer a surprise to see tattoos in just about every major city – and Joburg is no exception. 

While there isn’t a standard price for tattoos per se, they generally start from R400 for a super simple, no colour flash piece, and go up from there with intricate full sleeves and all-colour back pieces. Some studios charge per design while others charge per hour. Wherever you decide on, be sure you’ve researched thoroughly and looked at an artist’s portfolio.

Choosing the right place where you’ll feel welcome is an important step in making your tattooing experience enjoyable. So, with more than 20 tatts under the belt and counting, here’s SJ's list of great tattoo studios and shops that might just have you making monthly bookings soon!


Custom design piece done at Inkgenics. Photo: SJ Ward via Instagram. 

Run by Anthony and Jax Huang and located in Edenvale, Inkgenics has become SJ's safe haven since moving to Johannesburg. Says SJ: "The artists are patient, friendly and always willing to try new things. Whether you’re going to sit for a six-hour session or one flash tattoo, they’ll treat you the same. They’re also a budget-friendly studio which is a rarity, but you don’t have to compromise on quality to get a good deal at Inkgenics." SJ adds that Inkgenics runs specials every month from as little as R550 which will get you two 6cm x 6cm black and grey pieces. If you keep an eye on their social media, you might get lucky and steal a six-hour, full-day session for only R1800.
Where to find them: 11 Neserton Drive, Isandovale, Edenvale;

Sally Mustang Tattoos

Done by tattoo artist, Emilia. Photo: Sally Mustang via Facebook. 

While they haven't yet been inked at Sally Mustang Tattoos, SJ says they've heard seriously impressive things about this studio which boasts a "full-service" offering, including tattooing, piercing, ink removals, and even a chiropractor and sports massage therapist (naturally, the good doctor is inked, too).

Sally Mustang is located in Milpark, across the road from 44 Stanley, so you can fuel up on food at any one of the great restaurants at 44 Stanley, then head over to get your tattoo. "Be sure to contact Sally Mustang beforehand to consult about your design and make a booking, because they're very popular. A full day costs anywhere between R5500 and R7500 depending on the artist. Not cheap, but the results speak for themselves," says SJ.
Where to find them: 39 Stanley Avenue, Milpark. Sally Mustang also has another location in Cape Town;

Be Kind Tattooing

Traditional lady lighter tattoo. Photo: Be Kind Tattooing via Instagram.

This tattoo and piercing studio, which looks like a beautiful indoor jungle, is an excellent choice for your first tattoo. With a range of artists to choose from, you can pick a style and piece that best suits your taste. "If you take a look at their Instagram, you’ll also see some breathtaking traditional work – a style that's timeless and unique," adds SJ.  
Where to find them: 7 Susman Avenue, Blairgowrie, Randburg;

Inkmoe Tattoos

Matching tattoos by Inkmoe Tattoos. Photo: Inkmoe Tattoos via Instagram. 

If you’ve heard of Mo.piiercings, then you’ve probably heard of Inkmoe Tattoos. This revamped space in Braamfontein houses a piercing studio, a tattoo studio (that's Inkmoe), Fangtastic (for tooth gems) and a nail salon, and offers a comfortable environment where clients can freely express their individuality. "If you’re keen on having a portrait tattoo done, Inkmoe Tattoos is the right fit for you," adds SJ.
Where to find them: 155 Smit Street, Braamfontein;

Ugly Ink Tattoos

Not at all bad to look at. Photo: Ugly Ink Tattoos via Instagram. 

Ugly Ink Tattoos is a modern tattoo and piercing shop in Kyalami that accommodates walk-ins. The space is equipped with a pool table and a TV to keep you occupied while you wait (the screen is a much-needed distraction for those long, full-sleeve sessions!). "It's a great place to meet like-minded people and hang out, before having your turn in the chair," says SJ.
Where to find them: 2 Forssman Close (inside the Kyalami on Main shopping centre on the upper floor), Midrand; 

To wrap up, SJ advises: "Wherever you choose to start your tattooing journey, remember these three golden rules: eat beforehand, stay hydrated throughout and follow the after-care instructions."



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