Real People Of Joburg: Ting Thorne, Tattoo Artist
If you're the kind of person who trades in stereotypes, you might expect a tattoo artist to fall into a traditionally grungy, aggressive role. When I walked into Ting's Tattoos in 11th Street, Parkmore, its founder is sitting on a low stool, nursing a baby dove with a plastic spoonful of ProNutro.
Hardly the picture of a gun-smuggling Hell's Angel.
Apparently her kittens dragged the bird in, leaving it to fend for itself. Ting's childhood passion for animals meant she couldn't leave it to its own devices, even if they were just playing with the dove. My assumptions about her shattered, I decided to find out what else she could tell me that would blow my mind. We ended up bringing up Tinkerbell, dolphins, Oprah and Montecasino.
JHBLive: So your real name is Kim, where did Ting come from?
Ting Thorne: My parents called me 'Tinkerbell' but my little brother couldn't say it. He called me Ting-Ting.
JHBLive: How long have you been tattooing for?
TT: Five years now.
JHBLive: Where do you live?
TT: In Parkmore, Sandton.
JHBLive: Where would you like to live?
TT: In the Seychelles. Lots of cool people. I can drive across the whole island in 35 minutes and there are lots of drunk people. There's also a dude who drives around in a bakkie with a sign "Tattoos" but not a fuck would I get tattooed by him.
JHBLive: What or Where is your favourite place in JHB?
TT: The Bird Gardens in Montecasino.
JHBLive: How do you feel about your job?
TT: I LOVE my job! I get to draw pretty pictures on people day. I don't have time to go to gym so I have to "let out" by swearing at Gideon [her apprentice].
JHBLive: As a kid, what did you imagine you'd be doing with your life today?
TT: I really wanted to be a vet. I love animals. I was always rescuing injured bush animals, even the vet used to drop off rescued animals at my house.
JHBLive: When did you realize you were going to be a tattoo artist instead?
TT: I have a vivid memory of being 10-years-old, I was in a supermarket and I saw a woman that was full of piercings. I turned to my mom and said, "Mom, I wanna look like that one day."
JHBLive: What do you love about Johannesburg?
TT: [It's] very busy and a very wealthy city. People come here striving for success and "Dollah".
JHBLive: What do people say about Johannesburg?
TT: People say it's a very snobby city and everyone is stuck up, but I beg to differ. The people I've met have been really cool.
JHBLive: What would you change about JHB?
TT: I wish we could bring the ocean here because I really wanna be a dolphin when I grow up.
JHBLive: What advice do you have for the people of JHB?
TT: Stop driving like assholes... dickburgers.
JHBLive: What was your first tattoo?
TT: I have a riddle written on my hip, "The more you take the more you leave behind". What's the answer?
TT: Finally somebody got it... The answer to my riddle is "footprints". If you run down the beach, what do you leave behind you?
JHBLive: Do you believe every tattoo should carry sentiment or meaning?
TT: Hell no! I have sentimental tattoos and non-sentimental tattoos, like a big squirrel with blue eyes.
JHBLive: Do you remember the first tattoo you got paid to do?
TT: I think it was a swallow, if I remember correctly. An old school swallow.
JHBLive: What was that like?
TT: Nerve-racking as shit. Oh my god, I had the shakes and I almost passed out. It was the most stressful thing but I did a great job and the customer came back for lots more.
JHBLive: Have you ever been discriminated, judged or mistreated for your tattoos?
TT: No, but when [customers] hear my name [over the phone], they think I'm a Chinese man, so that's a little offensive.
JHBLive: Would you refuse to do any tattoos?
TT: Yes, if someone asked me to tattoo their eyelids, I would probably say no.
JHBLive: What's the strangest tattoo you've ever done?
TT: I tattooed half an avocado on a guy's thigh the other day.
JHBLive: What other hobbies and interests do you have?
TT: My hobby became my career and my childhood dream of being a vet became my hobby. I still rescue animals.
JHBLive: Have you got any idols or heroes?
TT: Oprah! Really. For real! And Jeff Gogue is one of the most amazing tattoo artists in the world.
In today's Real People of Joburg, we talk speeding through the Seychelles, being a dolphin and 'dickburgers' with tattoo artist Ting Thorne. http://bit.ly/1Fxoicv