Ever since he was a child, James Nderitu was fascinated by art. So, after high school, he didn’t think twice on what he wanted to do with his life. Today the 23-year-old youngster is a skilled tattoo artist
James Nderitu meticulously draws a colourful tattoo on his client. He is keen and focused. He cannot afford to make a mistake. After all, he is dealing with a human skin and just one wrong move can leave a wrong permanent mark. After several hours, the satisfied client leaves happily. The excruciating pain he endured is worth it after all.
“I have been doing art professionally for five years, but I always grew up around art as a child. I can say for me, it’s inborn,” the 23-year-old says.
Jamoe, as many refer to him was born and raised in Nakuru County’s urban area called White House. Soon as he completed secondary school in 2014, he needed something to keep him busy. Upon consultation with his parents, he was allowed to move into the big scary industrious Nairobi that never sleeps. Though his folks were well informed of his talents, they were a skeptic to allow him to move to Nairobi.
“I was motivated to move to Nairobi because it’s a hub and a home to many artists, it has a lot of opportunities, and it was the best place for me to learn. My parents have always seen the passion I have had for art since I was young, so they did not hesitate to support me,” Jamoe says.
Through a fellow experienced artist friend, Jamoe grew his skills cautiously and progressively, growing from doing airbrush art, to holding tattoo machines and attempting drawings on actual people with the sharp needle.
Currently, he is the brain behind Morganz Ink, Jewelry and Tattoo Shop in Nairobi. With no college background on how to do business or how to act in the industry, it is interesting to see the youngster passionately giving his all to what he loves most.
He deals with at least 10 clients on a bad day. He has managed to curate a huge following through social media, especially Instagram rallying up to over 10,000 followers on two accounts. When the client count becomes overwhelming, he usually reschedules the appointments so that they can get quality service.
Tattoo art business is perfected through experience. Clients will troop at your doorstep when they have confidence in your work and Jamoe knows this too well. It is only when you are good at something that previous clients could recommend you to another person.
And although Jamoe is famed as a tattoo artist, he also found a niche in offering high quality in airbrush art, which he does on matatus, custom cars, motorcycles besides the outstanding 3D tattoos that he performs as well.
“The most interesting part of my job is that I get to meet people from all walks of life who come together to appreciate art. It’s not always about the money because to me, art is life, it is happiness. It never matters how much the job is worth, I give my all because I love it,” Jamoe says.
He may be young but is already a role model worth emulating. His hunger to empower youth, and believe that artists should be able to express themselves is evident. Jamoe even inspired his childhood friend Godfrey Kihia, 24, to move to Nairobi in 2016 at the time there was a huge demand for real and quality jewellery. Jamoe advised Kihia to venture into that area and the friend rented a room next to his shop. Two years later, Kihia is doing well and Jamoe does not regret bringing him to Nairobi and mentoring.
‘’I have seen James move from Nakuru to start life on his own. He is now living well off from something he loves to do. This challenged me. But starting this business has introduced us to many opportunities,” says Kihia..