Alyssa van der Merwe, also known as @Lyss4Ink across social media platforms, is a tattoo artist based in Randburg. She has been tattooing since 2017 and specializes in both fine-line and blackwork style tattoos. Her art, both on the body and the canvas, is heavily inspired by surrealism. The juxtaposition between something realistic and based in reality with something fantastical has always been her focus, as an avid fantasy and history lover.
Alyssa has had the opportunity to tattoo at various prestigious tattoo studios across the country, and has worked with many well known local celebrities. She also has a loyal international client base that travels to SA to be tattooed by her. She credits her success in this field to the discipline and work ethic instilled in her by her Martial Arts background. Frida Kahlo and Maxime Etienne are among her main inspirations in the art world, both stylistically as well as with the emotional messages portrayed in their work. Alyssa mainly draws inspiration from Mythology, and classical art, especially ancient Greek and Roman sculpture.
"The human form captured in marble, to stand and inspire generations for millennia is a type of magic", says Alyssa.
Alyssa finds that the most rewarding element of tattooing is the relationship she builds with her client, sharing life stories and experiences and providing something to boost their self image. On canvas, she finds catharsis in the process of revealing something beautiful on a previously blank canvas.
Alyssa aims to connect the past and the present by connecting the perfection of the classical Era to the turbulence of the modern world. She finds inspiration in Mythology and ancient stories of God's and heroes and thinks that there is still much to be delved into concerning the human experience. Though she enjoys the simplicity of creating digital sketches and stencils for her tattoos, Alyssa enjoys diving into mixed media for her physical work. She enjoys experimenting with unconventional techniques to achieve fantastic results.
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"Perseus, the demigod son of Zeus and most famously known for slaying the fearsome Medusa. Medusa, most famously known as the only mortal Gorgon; a beauty to behold but one who's gaze would turn you to stone.
At first glance one beholds the classically depicted scene of Perseus holding aloft the head of Medusa; a hero in triumph over the monster...but perhaps there is more to the story than that. Medusa was a beautiful mortal woman, lauded specifically for her glorious hair. She unluckily caught the eye of Poseidon and was consequently assaulted by the God, and impregnated in a temple of Athena., Enraged by the sacrilegus act on her holy ground, the virgin goddess transformed Medusa’s enchanting hair into a coil of serpents.
Medusa, the monster? Or a victim of circumstance? That's not to paint Perseus in a villainous light, however as his own mother was impregnated by Zeus in the form of a golden shower that rained through a tiny crack in her prison. Causing her father to throw her and baby Perseus into the ocean to die. The fates would have them survive, and Perseus many years later only undergoes the quest to kill Medusa in order to protect his mother from a Tyrannical King.
Perseus, the Murderer? Or the Protector? Thus, the dichotomy.
Zeus is a conventional example of the Divine Masculine, but I disagree with that sentiment as he was more of an example of the corrupt and wounded Masculine, representing greed and misuse of power and misogyny. I chose instead to represent the Divine Masculine by using the story of Perseus and Medusa, because I felt that they each in their own ways represent the concept in a far more genuine manner.
Medusa, though a victim of circumstance and violent higher powers, ends up with a power of her own that she uses to protect herself with.
Perseus, a warrior putting his life in danger in order to protect his loved ones.
Thank you for delving with me into some Greek Mythology and for peeling back the layers of the painting!"