#DIYwithOF is a series that follows creative individuals. We learn how they made their amazing projects happen. We talk to Electra Panagiotides about The Naked Canvas Tattoo Co. in our latest post of this series.
You have created The Naked Canvas Tattoo Co., what inspired you to take this leap into a completely new space?
Since the start of my high school career the tattoo industry always interested me. The concept of using skin as an artistic medium fascinated me. I knew I had to explore it further. In my 11th grade I spent time at Fallen Heroes job shadowing, seeing if this was something I was in fact passionate. It was! The concept of offering people a personalized temporary tattoo came about when I discovered a gap in the market for temporary body art. Temporary tattoos such as henna, gold leaf and lick n stick tattoos existed but there was no realistic-looking, long-lasting, customizable option available in South Africa. I took advantage of this opportunity and started The Naked Canvas Tattoo Co. in 2015. The advantages to my business model were that I would be able to start tattooing people as soon as possible as an apprenticeship was not needed, and I would be able to still continue with my studies as a Fine Arts student.
I’m sure the journey to create something out of nothing wasn’t easy at times. Can you tell me a story about one challenge that you faced?
A challenge that I faced was finding the best method of application to ensure that the ink stayed on the skin for the longest possible period of time. Second to that was deciding what aftercare should be used. Research, as well as trial-and-error, helped me figure out the best way to create and maintain a healthy looking tattoo which will last anything from 3-8 days depending on how well the client follows the aftercare routine.
You live in Johannesburg. In your vision, what does your ideal city look like?
I’m currently based in Johannesburg but as I progress as an artist and as a tattoo artist I would like to move to a city in Europe where the tattoo culture is thriving. South Africans have made a slow progression into welcoming the tattoo industry and celebrating it and this is my dream – I’d one day like to live where I can get the most out of my city with regards to clientele and appreciation of the art itself. However, with that being said, the goal is to be able to tattoo all over the world as a guest artist in different shops, whilst owning my own.
Following on that question, what small steps could you do right now, or are doing, to make that future happen?
As for now, I am putting all my energy into producing artwork under my artist alias The Naked Canvas as well as growing my business The Naked Canvas Tattoo Co. by working on as many clients as possible. I plan on bringing out a tattoo-inspired t-shirt line towards the end of this year and once I have completed my studies I will move onto completing a tattoo apprenticeship at a tattoo studio. The goal is to, one day, open up The Naked Canvas Tattoo Co. as a tattoo studio offering temporary and permanent tattoos, art and clothing – I’d like to create a tattoo lifestyle brand.
I have seen that you are talented in all shapes and forms of different imagery – where would you say you draw your inspiration from? Who has inspired you (if anyone) to keep going?
Most of my inspiration and influences come from the youth of Johannesburg. As an art student I have come across many different young artists, collectives and individuals my age pursuing their dreams fearlessly and it inspires not only the subject matter of my art but also my motivation to keep on pushing through. Johannesburg is a breeding ground of young creatives and it feels great to be a part of it, to see new things being achieved by people my age is really cool.
What quote/mantra do you make use of to get you by when difficulties arise?
“You’ll never know until you try it” – with the type of work that I do, much of it has been trial-and-error, however, if I don’t push myself out of my comfort zone by using new techniques, pushing my limits of subject matter and really testing what can be achieved with a temporary tattoo – I won’t be the successful artist I strive to be.
This feature falls in our “Do It Yourself” series. We’re trying to get young people to see different ways of handling their futures. What advice would you give to young people about starting their own projects and/or businesses?
My advice would be, If you have a dream – do it. The worst thing that could happen is that it fails and even then if you’ve learnt from it, it’s not a failure. I would recommend doing lots of research prior to investing money and time into a project but also don’t be afraid to stand out. When I first started The Naked Canvas Tattoo Co. I was hesitant to see the reactions of the public but I’m glad I started it because people took well to the concept and I have gained a lot of knowledge myself of working with skin as a medium!