“So, on Sunday I’m getting more tattoos,” says rapper Terry Treasure a few days before putting ink to skin for what should at this point be the millionth time. Her first tattoo was on her eighteen birthday, and she’s been inclined towards getting inked ever since, much to her mother’s chagrin.

Terry Treasure, real name Gugulethu, has an incurable itch for needles and ink. Every so often, the itch rears its head, in need, searching for purpose, seeking a cure.

“I am filling up my left arm, and we’ll probably start with my right as well,” she adds, pointing to both arms – the left, mostly plain with an infinity symbol tattoo that inches towards the palm of her hand, and is about the width of an android phone (them Samsung ones); and the left, plain.

She skirts the inner part of her left arm with her right index finger as if making a mental sketch of her next set of tattoos when speaking about the next set: her mothers’, located slightly above the infinity tattoo, and her grandfather Africa, whose name Terry Treasure says is significant to who she is, to be located on the inner of her upper arm.

She details other plans too, like finishing up the microphone located above her left elbow, and an as-yet-unknown venture which shall find a home on her right arm. There’ll probably be a sunflower at some point, “to show the brightness in my life” she says.

Photo Credit: Tseliso Monaheng

“[I am getting] my grandfather’s name which is really significant to who I am. His name is Africa”
Earlier work on Terry Treasure’s thigh


“It first started as a hobby back in 2014, then grew from there,” says Amo, who operates his Blackneedle Tattoos business out of a swanky, comfy spot somewhere in Pretoria.


Terry Treasure’s upper arm has some flower work on it from prior sessions.


Amo’s sketches


More sights from Amo’s workspace, part of the arsenal required during the tattooing process.


Terry Treasure has an exceptional tolerance for pain. She Social Network’d and video’d her way through the session, bothered by the needle slicing into her flesh.


“My first tattoo was on my father,” says Amo. “It came out looking weird and I was like ‘yo, yo…’ I felt really discouraged. I was nah, you know what?! I’m not about this life’!” His business is picking up now; he’s getting regular, paying clients. “My target market is mostly the youth, like young adults. Old people aren’t really fond of tattoos,” he says.


The complete piece: Lungi, Terry Treasure’s mother, and Africa Bonga, her grandfather.


Terry Treasure by Tseliso Monaheng