Joy always wanted to become a nurse because she is passionate about caring and nurturing the beings around her. Though she never ended up becoming a nurse, she still translates that desire for care and healing into her practice as a tattoo artist.
Susan Van Tonder
Heleen van Tonder
She wants beings who get tattooed to feel heard and prioritised in the time shared with her. “I want the experience to be more than just a ‘copy and paste’ superficial, cosmetic labour. I would like this time and space spent with each person to reflect more as a personal ritual to either gain expression or speak about what troubles them, as a way to heal.“ She would love for tattooing to return to being ceremonial, to be able to make someone happy by the process of getting an image or pattern that holds personal meaning to them.
Joy also wants to assist trans men/women to embrace and celebrate their bodies, post-surgery. She has a studio space in Johannesburg called UsTheyThem Studio. This space is open to all beings, she says, but mostly it’s a safe and tranquil space for beings of the LGBTQIA+ community to come and have readings, talks, support groups, and small exhibitions. It’s a platform for queer beings. UsTheyThem is a space that nurtures healthy conversations and allows all to express themselves without judgment or fear. It’s an environment that’s accessible and diverse.
Joy Jessica Steyn is a queer hand poke tattoo artist based in Johannesburg and Cape Town practicing out of UsTheyThem Studio. She will be in Cape Town from the 24th March till the 9th April. For bookings contact: