There’s nothing more familiarly soothing to a tattoo artist than the rumble and hum of their equipment. This sort of subliminal ritual has made Lewis Williams, also lovingly and respectfully known as ‘Vudulew’, a globally recognized tattoo artist and photo realism expert. “Hands down my favorite style,” he tells us, “Any time I can tell a story with a picture that reminds a loved one of a lost love, a child, or a photography of a moment in time … that’s when I know I chose the right career.”
Saying that Lewis is an accomplished tattoo artist is like saying Grammy-winner, Soweeto Gospel Choir, is just a musical ensemble – the description doesn’t do justice to the subtle control, training, and powerful interpretations both artists have achieved in their fields. The truth is Lewis Williams, star of hit reality TV Show Rumble & Hum, today enjoys quite the celebrity status. How did it all begin?
Since his youth, Lew always felt an attraction to great black and grey work, and his major influence was Paul Booth with his dark, sometimes demonic and monstrous monochromatic visions. Lew began tattooing in 2008 and remembers the greatest achievement in those early years was to own an FK Iron’s Galaxy II shader. “Man, I loved that machine! Now I’m using the Xion – it’s such a great machine that you won’t see me using anything else.” When he first opened his tattoo studio Rumble & Hum, there were only three people, including Lew, and in less than ten years, Lew has earned multiple awards at Cool Ink in South Africa, as well as Surf and Ink in Australia, for his amazing renditions; he is also a widely recognized eSports personality, and has his own TV show.
This passion for excellence has brought Lew’s studio, Rumble & Hum, to the forefront of the global tattoo community with the popular reality TV show by the same name, launched in 2015. The show was the result of an instant friendship that Lewis struck with the series writer, Nico Nel. Lewis and Nico were convinced of the entertainment value of a lifestyle reality show that would follow co-owners Lewis Williams (Founder and Senior Artist), and a team of tattoo and piercing artists during their everyday lives. In the mix of the show we meet Cole Moebius, whose machine of choice is also the Spektra Xion; Quinten Vorster, Judy Van Hoof, Bianca Kruger, shop manager Nicole De Witt, and Adrianne Black, who expertly handles the Spektra Halo 1.
Talking about their favorite machines, Senior Artist Cole Moebius uses the Xion because of its quiet, lightness and minimal vibration on the wrist. Without a need for a grip, the Xion is perfect for the precision Cole requires. For Junior Artist Adrianne, her preferred machine is the Halo 1 because of its smoothness, steadiness and lightness on the hand – “The Halo 1 does what you need it to do, when you need it most. It has an optimal design, and being a woman, I love the look of it.”
This great match between man and machine came about through FK Irons distributor in South Africa, Tattoo Addict – who were Rumble & Hum’s suppliers from the minute the studio opened its doors. They watched Lewis and his team grow into one of the top tattoo salons in South Africa and when Tattoo Addict was told about the TV show, they felt the association with FK Irons machines was a natural fit. A couple of Skype meetings later and as they say, the rest is history! Tattoo Addict takes their role in developing the tattoo industry very seriously and this is just one of the ways through which they have added value to the industry as a whole.
Going on its second season, Rumble & Hum is a big hit, seen internationally on CBS Reality, Sony, AMC, and Extreme TV, and Lewis Williams looks eagerly to the future when according to him, the world stage for tattoo artists would have grown even more. “At the rate we’re going in five years I think tattoos will be recognized in the art world as its own form of permanent art, and collectors who ‘commission’ pieces as we saw during the Renaissance period, will be common place.”
FK Irons is thrilled that artists like Lew, Cole, Adrienne and the rest of the Rumble & Hum team have chosen to work with our state-of-the-art machines, and we share Lew’s vision of an approaching future where we will witness tattooing claiming its rightful place among the world of Fine Arts.