Victor Ndaiga, The Ink Samurai

Samurai Ink is a tattoo and body piercing business owned by Victor Ndaiga. He started the business because of his love for art and the feeling that tattooing is the best medium to bring out his artistic side.

His journey began in the beginning of 2014 with a monetary gift that he used to purchase his first tattooing machine. He then proceeded to teach himself through watching YouTube videos and practicing on rubber-plastic composites that mimics skin called practice skins. He also watched other tattoo artists as they worked. Currently, in Kenya, there aren’t any training institutions dedicated to teaching the art of tattooing. Most people learn through apprenticeship, which is usually expensive and often offers little exposure to the learner in a field that requires a lot of hands on practice. This is why Victor decided to self-learn using YouTube tutorials.

Afterwards, Victor drew tattoos on people for free for 4 months before opening a space for tattooing in beauty shop he owned. Later on, he decided to focus on tattooing and body piercing alone and currently has a shop on the ground floor of the Royal Mews in Juja.

Victor chose the name Samurai Ink for his business because of his interest in the Japanese tattooing style. He combines this style with his own to create a unique personal style. The most interesting tattoos he has done are of red koi fish, the tree of life and death and Maori/Polynesian tattoos. Pricing for his tattoos starts from Ksh 1,000 going up with the price determined by the size of the tattoo and the amount of detail required.

Most of his clientele are campus aged with his oldest clients to date being in their 40’s. Underage clients need to be accompanied with a parent or guardian. Victor gets both male and female clients in an almost 50/50 ratio with most female clients requesting small tattoos while the large tattoos are requested mainly by male clients. A lot of people get tattoos for beauty reasons with some opting for permanent eyebrows and beauty spots to be drawn. Others do it as a memorial for a loved one that has passed away while others do it for religious reasons or as proof of their love.

Victor does his work mostly based on appointments and requests for a 5% advance payment to ensure the appointment is kept by the client. Home appointments cost extra and it is usually more economical to have a group of about three people being tattooed for such appointments.

Victor takes the health and safety of his clients seriously. He uses a needle, tip, ink and ink cap only once for a client then throws them away. This greatly reduces the dangers of infection.

In future, Victor plans to expand into Thika and Nairobi.