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Body art gives me lots of money and pleasure

His office is on first floor, on Moi Avenue. It may seem hidden and difficult to find, but you will be surprised at how popular the place is.

It is teeming with youngsters – most of them in university or college, waiting patiently at the reception for their turn with John Njugunah, fondly referred to as Johnnie.

No, Johnnie is not a doctor, nor a clergyman who promises to pray their troubles away. He is a tattoo and piercing artist who is a darling of the young folk.


I get a free pass into his small office, where I find him in action. A young, chocolate skinned lady is seated on a reclining seat, topless, save for her brassier.

Johnnie is seated behind her, with a tattoo machine in his hand; he is busy drawing a tattoo on her right shoulder. He is focusing on the design.

In front of him, dabbing the area with a paper towel, seemingly oblivious of the topless lady in front of him – or maybe he is used to it by now.

The little room that is his office tells a story; a story of a journey that began about five years ago. On the walls and the roof, are short autobiographies by youngsters who have passed through his hands.

Short messages of appreciation are written all over with the senders signing off with their names, and some promising to come back. Some messages date as far as 2009.

Johnnie, a tattoo artist began his trade in 2007 while working at a tattoo parlour until he decided to start his own business in 2008.

“I loved drawing as a child. In fact, I used to do a lot of oil paintings until I realised that would never pay my bills or put food on the table. I wanted something that would pay more,” says Johnnie who uses Dynamic tattoo ink from China.

The ink comes in various colours and shades. His tattoos are in three dimension (3D).

“The 3D tattoos, besides looking more real, normally have shadows and from a distance, you might think that the image is real,” he explains Jonnie who started his business from his savings.

The tattoos cost between Sh2,000 and Sh10,000.

Johnnie who claims to be self-trained, not only does tattoos, but also piercings, which are very common, especially among university students who are his favourites clients.