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Interview: Meet Kla Ink The Shop Behind Stunning Tattoos On Ugandan Celebs

Photos by Habre Muriisa

Do you find tattoos very interesting or fascinating? A well done tattoo from a right parlour with the ideal ink and equipment looks very awesome on people with ‘the right’ type of skin but comes out more prominently on light skin people. Where in Kampala can you then find a nice professional tattoo parlour without risking down town where your skin and even life can be put in danger?

Well here in Kampala, we are introducing to you K’LA INK TATTOO SHOP, a tattoo house behind many top notch celebrities’ tattoos in Uganda. With the need to be East Africa’s biggest tattoo shop, Moha Pharo (tattooist), Maxxi (the host), A1 Fresh and the entire team paid a visit to Chano8.com offices in Kololo where we conducted a question and answer interview and this is how it went down.

Chano8: You guys seem to be a team, how did it all start?

(Moha speaking) I started tattooing in my first year after High School. It’s like a hobby because am an artiste so that is how I started because tattoos leave an impact on some one’s life. You have a tattoo you have it forever. So I started up a shop like 3 years ago and we have kept on growing but tattooing is not a common thing in Uganda. As per now, the crowd has kind of increased.

Chano8: This type of art seems not to be featured on academic syllabi, how did you get to learn this?

Tattooing is not something you go to school to be taught, it’s a craft. Someone who knows teaches you and you practice, the more you do it the better you get.

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Before Chano8 could interview the Kla Ink team, they first did a sample Tattoo on one of our staff members

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Our staff member tattooed his mother’s name ‘Alice’ on his left arm

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Moha(R) the tattooist taking on Chano8 questions at our head offices in Kololo as the colleague Maxxi(C) looks on

Chano8: So how did you come up with this team of guys?

These are all my friends, it didn’t come up a business but it came out through like friendship.

Chano8: Can we say that your main clientele is in the celebrity world?

Everybody is a client, we have foreigners mostly but everybody is a client.

Chano8: You just said that the tattoo culture is not well perceived in Uganda, how have far is the reception now?

Honestly from when we started, right now it’s just catching up. The more you do it, the more people get to know about you and the more they want to get tattoos.

Chano8: We are told you guys have an upcoming TV Show that will air on Urban TV. Is it something new?

It’s very new, it’s actually the first African tattoo show in reality. We have seen Miami Ink, LA Ink, London Ink. All over the world to even on Ugandan TV stations, they are hosting American tattoo shows but this is the first African show in Kampala.

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Maxxi from Kla Ink speaks outon their first ever African tattoo TV show in Kampala

Chano8: Tell us more about your upcoming TV show.

It will be airing on Urban TV and DSTV on Channel 288 and it’s a weekly episode. Every week is a celebrity that comes over and we don’t only do tattoos on them but also activities with them. We would love to take them out of the shop and do activities with and see the other side of them.

Chano8: How do you guys do your production?

It’s a team of three, Simon is on the camera, Maxxi is the host me Moha I do the tattoos. We are the ones who sit up to two o’clock in the morning doing the writing, editing and producing so it’s only three people.

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Kla Ink’s camera person Simon had an eye catching tattoo

Chano8: As Chano8, our readers could be interested in what you guys are doing, what do you have to tell them and where can one find you guys?

We are located in Kisementi so Let them come to the tattoo shop and see because the work speaks for itself. A lot of people see our work and they are like did you get that tattoo in Uganda? We have all been tattooed by Kla Ink because the quality of tattoo artistes in Uganda is not great, there is a handful of tattoo shops but 90% are trying.

Chano8: We are told that you are an artiste too, tell us more.

(Moha Speaking) Pretty much, you guys are getting more of the music because it’s coming in before the end of this year and next year.

Chano8: Where do you guys see the tattoo industry in Uganda going?

Bigger and better, it’s already catching up and it can’t go back, it keeps on going forward and becoming more popular especially around the youth and on social media. At least somebody sees a picture of a tattoo on social media daily.

Chano8: Any memorable moment you can share with us in your tattoo business.

The first ever episode was a little shaky, the opening of the shop because we started from nothing literally because we were really young people. We literally begged weasel because we needed a big celebrity to start the show off and he came and got a tattoo and we had the first episode settled down but it was difficult at first. Tattooing Golola was a memorable episode and Winnie Nwagi.

Chano8: What uniqueness do you guys think have from the other tattoo shops?

We have a TV show, we are friends and we are like a family. The rest are faking and we are who we are. We want to show people what tattoos are.

Chano8: What does a tattoo mean to you guys?

It’s a memory, when you grow older you will remember and it takes you back where you got it and tattoos show who you are and they tell a story.

Chano8: Challenges

Criticism for example me (A1 Fresh), I grew up in the US and it’s normal but when I came here, people were like oh my God, illuminati, thug but at the end of the day, this is who I am and how I express myself.

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Kampala Ink’s A1 Fresh explaining what tattoos mean to him

Chano8: If someone walks in your shop clueless about tattoos, what tips would you give them on to pick a tattoo that makes sense?

What is attractive to you and what values does it have to you and don’t wake up like after 6 months from now and you are like where did I get this? I usually check everybody who gets a tattoo and am like are you sure? We advice them not to put things like their girlfriends/boyfriends names.

Chano8: Do you guys have an age limit for tattoos?

18 and above or if your parents sign for it on the consent form but some parents are cool having their kids tattooed.

Chano8: Are there types of tattoos?
(Moha speaking) Hundreds and hundreds but also artists build their own styles like am doing my own.

Chano8: How much does one need to get a tattoo?

Every tattoo has a different price. The minimum is Shs 100,000.

Chano8: What was the hardest tattoo you have ever done on a person?

I don’t even know which one, I haven’t got the hardest one yet but I really want challenges because people here get normal tattoos but people in Europe get crazy tattoos.

Chano8: Your last words.

We love Chano8, thanks for the interview, Watch out for Kla In on Urban TV and DSTV.

Kla Ink pausing for pictures with some of the Chano8 staff

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