top of page
  • Writer's pictureLucelle Pillay

Featured Business: Azalea Ink Tattoo Studio

Updated: Mar 20

Figure 1. Jodie Pillay (Tattoo Artist). 2024. Graphic image by Lucelle Pillay

(Image & Logo are subject to Copyright)

Azalea Ink Tattoo Studio is gaining creative momentum in Durban's picturesque suburb of Hillcrest. This can be accredited to its owner and resident artist, the formidable, Jodie Pillay. She presents as a diminutive dynamo, reserved yet welcoming and highly knowledgeable about her craft. To survive and succeed in the male-dominated world of tattoo artistry, is no easy feat, especially for a young woman of colour. Jodie's journey is indeed remarkable and inspiring. As the only child, she remembers spending endless hours drawing alone in her room. She recalls a humorous story of getting into trouble with her pre-school teacher after 'adding elements' to a colouring-in activity. "It seems that all my life people expected me to 'colour within the lines', but I wanted to say more, do more", she says amusedly, underpinned by a defiant glint in her eye. She continues to discuss how the solitude of being the only child, gave her space to explore her own visual aesthetic and personal narrative. She explains that apart from a fascination with speed bikes, heavy metal, dinosaurs and her dog, Pasco, her artistic pursuits remained crucial to her well being.

Figure 2. Jodie & Pasco. 2024. Graphic image by Lucelle Pillay

(Image subject to Copyright)

Jodie graduated from the National School of the Arts in Braamfontein, in 2017. She enjoyed the social progressiveness of the creative space, but struggled with the rigid academic structures that tended to stifle her artistic endeavours. During her gap year she applied her drawing talents to the art of tattooing, by undertaking several apprenticeships with established artists in Durban and Johannesburg. She developed a real passion for the craft, but due to parental pressure relented to register at the University of Johannesburg in 2019. Jodie opted for a degree in Multimedia Studies, but similarly to school, soon felt restrained and overlooked within the system of higher education. She mentions that institutes propagate mediocrity by rewarding 'sameness' and those who follow the rules like 'sheep'. After passing her first year with very little effort, Jodie left University to pursue a junior position at a well-known Tattoo Studio in Edenvale. She states, 'I realised that a degree at UJ couldn't guarantee me a job, I grew frustrated with the meaningless projects, when I could be out there earning'. Life and work as a young tattoo artist started looking positive till the Covid pandemic hit in 2020. Jodie remained undeterred and continued to design and practice her chosen craft on synthetic skin, during the lockdown. The isolation, family issues and the financial insecurities of her chosen career impacted her mental and emotional wellbeing. It's become quite a stereotyped notion that creative temperaments are more susceptible to episodes of malaise and depression, but this is often the case. Overcoming these personal hurdles was challenging, but Jodie's passion to become a leading tattoo-artist was a strong motivating force that saw her through. With family support she opened her first tattoo parlour in Durban in 2021. She soon honed her skills within a highly competitive environment and became a force to be reckoned with. Her light-handed dexterity in wielding a tattoo gun, fine detail and unique-custom designs, have earned her a loyal client following. She is the youngest female tattoo-artist to own and run her own studio.

Figure 3. Jodie in Studio. 2024. Graphic image by Lucelle Pillay

(Image subject to Copyright)

Being somewhat of an introvert makes dealing with difficult clients taxing, however, staying focused on professional service delivery is the best business model. Jodie loves working on large, detailed pieces that she has designed herself. She states that her biggest reward comes from a client's face lighting up after seeing the finished work. 'I consider myself an artist that draws on a living canvas'. She states, 'Tattooing is such an organic medium, it changes, it needs to breath and merge with skin, it becomes apart of you. People use it as a form of intimate expression, of a memory, a loved one, a special event or aspiration. I love being a part of that'.

Figure 4. Jodie in Session - Octo-Skull. 2024. Graphic image by Lucelle Pillay

(Image subject to Copyright)

In partnership with Tyla Brassey, a talented 3D Print Designer, Jodie has opened a brand new studio in the Hillcrest, Durban (2024). Together they offer a range of creative products and services. If you ever find yourself in Richdens Village Centre, Hillcrest, Durban, pop into Azalea Ink Tattoo Studio and make an appointment that could change your life in a meaningful way. If you not sure of a design, Jodie will oblige with some options that may seal the deal. Redbrick Artspace is thrilled to host Jodie as a guest artist at our studio in Johannesburg later this year. If you are in the Linden/ Roosevelt Park/ Emmarentia area and would like to book a session, contact or Limited spots available.

Related Links

167 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page