TATTOO ARTIST FEATURE: WESLEY VON BLERK


I met Wesley von Blerk a few years ago when he joined Handstyle Tattoos, and I've always enjoyed the solidity of his lines and his comfort with American Traditional styles. I have collected two pieces from Wesley, a Sailor Jerry Octopus on my left ankle and a solid Black Hyena. Both have aged beautifully, the colour still pops and the black is BLACK. 

1: What was your intro into tattooing?

WvB: I got into tattooing not really knowing I'd eventually become a tattooer, it's kind of funny, I was working retail at iron fist ink, folding clothes and packing boxes, when I got a break I'd sit and draw, one day one of the artist saw a bunch of my drawings and told me to come work in the tattoo studio of the shop, I guess you could say that's how it started, little did I know what I was getting myself into. 

Art never really felt like an escape, to me it felt more of a challenge, seeing something and trying to perfect it, doing it over and over until I felt like I got it right. 

2: What are your favourite styles of tattooing?

WvB: I have a huge respect for all styles of tattooing, I guess my biggest passion is western traditional (Sailor Jerry, Bert Grimm, Ed Hardy) the style that paved the path for tattooing and will continue to do so forever. 

My amazing Hyena and just poking out of my sock you can see the Octopus struggling to escape the Oppikoppi footwear

My amazing Hyena and just poking out of my sock you can see the Octopus struggling to escape the Oppikoppi footwear

3: Do you prefer to stick to one style or ..?

WvB: I think to be a good tattooer and especially in South Africa, its important to broaden your styles of tattooing. I had to learn this from working at Handstyle in a very busy street shop with plenty walk in traffic, we get different "styles" of tattoos coming in everyday and I enjoy doing them all. (Except portraits I don't do them sorry guys ✌) 

4: Philosophy of tattooing, do you have one?

WvB: Tattooing and what it means to me is totally different to the first day I was told "you going to be a tattooer" I thought of it as cool and that stupid fucking rockstar image (what a kook) as I went through my apprenticeship and the more I learnt from it the more I realized how much respect I was seeing in it, tattooing owes me nothing I am honestly humbled each and everyday to be apart of such a craft, from the people iv met to the smiles on my clients faces, I can honestly say it has changed my life And I will forever be grateful to tattooing and the people who have taught me. 

5: Do you have goals in mind with your art? 

WvB: I totally I want to tattoo overseas, that's first on the list, I feel it's a massive way to grow as a tattooer and learn from other across the world. 

6: What tattoo parlours have you worked in?

WvB: I've worked ink a bunch of my friends shops around South Africa, my homies at Cape Electric, Palm Black and Tomb Tattoos are the main masalas to check out if you in Cape Town, Durban friends the guys at Trade Mark tattoos are killing it!

I'll be off later in the year working at Star Crossed in Hong Kong and Stay Cold in Bangkok. 

7: SM

WvB: IG -  @WESLEY_VON_BLERK


You can find Wes at Handstyle Tattoos in Melville
More of his work below: