Tattooing in Kenya

Newton Omondi Oduge, who tattoos out of Mombasa in Kenya sent me these pictures of him tattooing a lion on the back of Ammelie, a Swedish tourist. I asked him what the tattoo scene was like in Kenya, and he replied,

“The tattoo scene in Kenya is actually not that much of a scene, with very few artists and even fewer good ones. I wouldnt say we have a scene here at all, but nonetheless, we try and give our best ink. It’s only made harder because 90 percent of the time your are tattooing dark skin, and small pieces at that. Then, once in a while you get a big job, maybe all-out colorfull on white skin, and you have to pull it together.

I have been fortunate to visit Europe and do some work there, but honestly, without the interaction from the Western world we are not going to go far. I hope to get to visit Japan or the States one of these days and just sit in a corner at a great studio and watch and learn. Peace.”

In all honesty, I’ve seen a lot of lion tattoos, and this is far better than most!

27 thoughts on “Tattooing in Kenya

  1. Wow…..
    But hey, he probabely has real lions nearby to look at as an example!

  2. Where can you see lions?
    Only in Kenya!
    Come to Kenya, we’ve got lions!

  3. I really like the colors with her skin tone. From a distance, it looks so natural.

  4. They tattoo lions… Only in Kenya!

    Come to Kenya, they tattoo lions!

  5. I was just in Kenya and really I saw maybe 5 Kenyans with tattoos. In Mombasa there is an interesting fusion Muslim and Indian art that you see in the Henna designs, which has become very commercial and straying away from the multi hour ordeal it used to be. Most people reacted more to my Labret and “ears like a Masai” than my tattoos. I had only one person tell me I couldnt go to heaven. Meh.For those on IAM you can see the pictures I uploaded of some of the plugs I found in the Swahili Museum on Lamu. Some are rather blurry but we were not supposed to take pictures anyhow..

  6. wow! i was born and lived half my life in Kenya, never once got to see a tat being done. The work looks totally professional and i’m genuinely excited to see this happening.

    btw Mombasa is as close to heaven as i’ve ever been. helluva place to do a suspension…

    and i totally love the rims of his spectacles!

  7. this is a really interesting (even if somewhat short) post;
    I’d def. love to learn more about the way modern body modification “scene” looks like/ develops in other countries, not only the US, Canada or a bunch of European ones.

  8. Aside from the very nice tattoos, I second the fact that his glasses are amazing. I’d love to see a close-up of them. I wonder if they are a local product of some sort? Never seen anything like them.

  9. that’s very beautiful… amazingly done. even if he is the entire tattoo scene in kenya all by himslef, at least it’s fantastic quality 🙂

  10. Woah, is it just me, or do his glasses not go around behind his ears? It looks like they have two tension arms that are sitting on his temple and upper cheek area. Awesome. I want some like that.

  11. The lion looks so real, he’s lovely!
    The specs are called Parasites, I used to sell them in the opticians I work in. They’re really funky (and expensive) and not many people can wear them, they look stupid on most people. But they look wicked on this guy.

  12. I would be very interested to hear more about tattooing in Africa. I’d be particularly interested to know about hygeine standards there. Obviously, one has to be very careful about making generalisations about hygeine standards, but in a Continent where prominent leaders know nothing of hygeine and where HIV is rife, it would be interesting to know how much pressure there is to keep a clean studio.

    I can’t help but think of two stories here. The first is Jacob Zuma’s thinking it was ok that he had unprotected sex with an HIV+ prositute because he took a shower straight afterwards. The second relates to a friend of mine – a doctor no less! – who got tattooed by a street vendor in Tanzania.

  13. I have ink from Newton and his brother……I think ink is catchin on well…….maybe a lil modestly but……its getting there. Newton rocks.

  14. @ Richard…..i will speak of the two artists i have dealt with………they would match any artist in the more fortunate countries and continents……..

  15. I have 5 tattoos from Newton coz i keep on going back for more and though am in ausi ow everyone wants to get one from him (ive got a business plan lol) Newton is the best there is in Kenya, and whoever is thinking about that HIV and hygiene stuff needs to see Kenya and how Newton does it, I have 3 other tats that were done by other artists and i felt the safest in Newton’s hands.

  16. Newton recently did tat’s for me and my husband. He is professional and hygenic [esp in a country with loads of HIV etc]. I am going for another one – with the next pay check!

    @ SSSasky and Bri … yes his glasses are super cool. They kinda hold on to his face. Super cool!

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