How did you get started in the tattoo industry? Have you always seen yourself as a tattoo artist?
Maybe it would be better if we started at the beginning and I can say firstly how I got into art. I was 2 years old on my mom gave me a pencil and a piece of paper and I replicated the headlines from newspapers. That was the moment when my parents realised I had a talent for drawing and they’ve supported me ever since then.
Did you do a formal apprenticeship?
I did loads of pencil drawings, late in my twenties I did some airbrushing as well. I think it all helped me to have a better understanding of what was going to be next. There was no formal apprenticeship available for me at that time. I had to tattoo myself to learn.
What was the experience of tattooing yourself like?
I did my very first 6 tattoos on myself. I did one on my chest just by looking in the mirror then my legs and my arms. That’s how my apprenticeship and my very first steps in tattooing started.
How is the new studio coming along?
The studio is looking good, like every other studio during the beginning it is difficult but we are getting there. The team is great and they’ve put a lot of effort into it and I really appreciate that.
How did it feel to finally open a studio after all these years of tattooing?
To own your own studio, I think is the ultimate goal that you set for yourself. Some people might not admit that but I personally think every tattoo artist aims for this. It is much harder to own a studio, more than I could have ever imagined. I have to run the studio and keep up with up with my waiting list, it’s really hard, but I am surrounded by an amazing team that make it all possible.
What are your interests outside of tattooing?
Once you enter into this industry you realise there is no life outside tattooing. I’m constantly doing research once I see a new tattoo machine on the market, I’m always talking to my other artist friends and asking about opinions on needles, machines and inks.
After work I prefer to spend 2 hours in the Gym – it clears my head after a busy day in the studio.
You’re known primarily as a great black and grey realistic artist, is there a particular reason you prefer b&g rather than colour?
Since I was a kid I’ve been interested in dark art, I guess the older I got, the more I discovered, the more I started to develop my vision and my technique as an artist.
One thing I respect massively from artists are those who don’t hide their healed work and you would certainly fit in this regard. Do you think more artists should show healed work given the opportunity?
At this stage into my career my tattoos look better when they are healed versus them being fresh, where there are other artists that provide the opposite. We are all different, some are looking to have a big boom when they post a picture on social media and I am looking to see that tattoo in 5-1o years time and not not see any changes.
Do you have any favourite tattoo artists?
There are many great artists that influenced my views over the years, would take a day to name all of them.
In your opinion what goes into making a ‘good’ tattoo?
To be saturated, solid, have contrast and especially a good composition is the base of a good tattoo. We all have different visions and maybe what I could call a good tattoo others might not.
Are there any tattoos that you find more challenging than others?
Every tattoo that I do is a challenge for me – doesn’t matter if they are small or big, I put the same effort into all my pieces and always work to the best of my abilities.
What is the most memorable tattoo that you have done?
I would say the family portraits category fits into the most memorable tattoos, many times my collectors have been in tears when they’ve seen the final results of the tattoo.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Work hard and you will always succeed. Believe in yourself and don’t let the haters tear down your goals.
Tattooing has progressed so much in the past 10 years, how do you see the next 10 years going in terms of advancements?
I embrace the new technology and I always purchase the new tattoo machines and needles to try.
What has been the hardest moment in your career thus far, and what has been your favourite?
As an artist you will always have ups and downs but I never gave up on my dream of doing art. Just a small story related to this was when one of my collectors from Glasgow went to Holland for a weekend with his pals. While they were in a pub enjoying a pint a guy approached my collector and said ”Amazing tattoo, I know who did that”, my collector was very surprised and asked ” No you can’t know – who is it then?” and the guy said ” Sile Sanda”. I felt very good because I knew years of work had paid off since I always wanted to put my signature in my tattoos and not be just an ordinary tattoo artist.
So recently you’ve opened your own studio, what’s next in store for Sile Sanda?
Yes, sometimes I can’t believe that 5 years ago I was looking for a studio to take me in and now I own one.
What’s next after this? I will do my best to build a good team that can be like a family and we can all enjoy doing art.
Finally, How would someone go about trying to get a tattoo from yourself?
I am not a superstar tattoo artist – You can see in my portfolio I’m covering a big diversity when it comes to the projects. I am very approachable, all collectors could simply visit my website, fill a form and within 24 Hours I will get back to them.
I am not able to help everyone as mostly I do Black and Grey work but I do my best to book in the majority of the people that are interested in getting a tattoo from me.
Interview for TattooFan Magazine UK by Tim Drummond
Photos from Sile Sanda’s social media.
Sile Sanda Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/SileSanda/
Sile Sanda Instagram: @silesanda
Dark Ink Gallery Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/darkinkgallery/