We continue to learn more Pro-team artist, Mawi "Mawi Wowie" Dubale. He shares about how his tattooing career has grown and his vision for the future.
Tell us about your shop, Obsidian Ink Studio in Vienna, Virginia outside of Washington DC.
MD: I opened up a private studio, just two weeks before Covid-19 hit in March 2020 and we were shut down. It was tough because I had all the bills for the new studio and no business. But things started up again in June and we were booked and have been working ever since. It has been hectic. And we are planning to get back into shows including 2021 Villain Arts in Chicago and Cincinnati.
One thing that is important in this industry is have a backup plan in place. It is important to be prepared, helps with stability in the work, and with life in general.
(Amazing mural done by Christopher Lynch at Mawi's Obsidian ink studio)
What is it like to have people apprentice with you?
MD: At first, I wasn’t open to teaching because I felt I didn’t know enough and I was not sure about teaching. Eventually I tried it and I have had a few apprentices over time. Currently at Obsidian Ink Studio, I have an apprentice. He is smart and works hard. It is great to see people grow in the craft. I really enjoy it!
Tattooing as a career offers different opportunities particularly around travel. Tell us about some of those experiences.
MD: One of my most interesting experiences was getting to tattoo overseas in Barbados. It was one of the best trips in my life. Imagine, using a wireless machine and being able to tattoo while on the beach; people were watching and it was an awesome feeling.
Tattoo shows offer a chance to travel too. I enjoy shows because I get to reach new groups of people and build new clientele. I make sure to take time and explore the area and people where the shows are. It is good to see what people around the world are like and learn and explore.
What advice do you have for clients?
MD: Research, Research, RESEARCH! Don’t go into this thinking any artist can do anything. Know what you want and find an artist that can do what you want. An example, as an artist, I can do color realism, but honestly it isn’t my thing.
On your design, give me details. Don’t be vague. Tattoo artists are people too! We need information to understand what you want so we can help you get your special art.
And be ready for your tattoo –mentally and physically. I had a client come in VERY hungover. I was trying to get the stencil on and after the fourth attempt, he started wobbling a lot. His fluids were low, and his oxygen levels were too. It was not a good situation. And be prepared financially to get your tattoo completed. Nothing worse than only getting part of the tattoo done and clients don’t have the money to finish the work in future sessions.
Why is Ink Defense® important for you and your clients?
MD: It heals up tattoos better than other products. It is a lot faster and better. I use it myself and it heals exceptionally.
Tell us a bit more about yourself. What about you personally?
MD: I have tried painting in the past but could not keep my head around it. Now I am looking into 3D modeling, like what is used in gaming. It gives me a different sense of life and perspective. I think it will be the future of tattooing, like wireless. I like to get ahead of the curve in new things.
Eventually I would like to be an teacher. I would like to teach art to middle school giving students a focus and provide direction. Art is subjective, there is value in what people see. Most importantly what YOU value as success is what matters.
Check out Part 1 of Mawi’s Interview