How long have your been tattooing? What got you interested in tattooing?
I started apprenticing in 2005 and became a full artist in 2007. I had always been interested in tattooing because of the imagery and I liked the idea of permanently altering your skin. I had been doing art my whole life, so it seemed like a great way to have a profession in the arts.
What was your first tattoo? Was there any meaning behind it?
My first tattoo was a merlion on my ankle. I lived in Singapore for a couple of years when I was a kid, and there was a really big statue of a merlion (head of a lion and the body of a fish) that shoots water out of its mouth into the harbour. I’ve always loved it and thought it would be a great idea for a tattoo to always tie me to Singapore. Shawn Hedley at Sacred Heart did the tattoo for me, when I was 18.
Are there any artists that have influenced you?
There are a lot of artists that I love, but I don’t know how many of them have consciously influenced my art. As much as I love them and wish I could emulate their styles, my art and tattoos remain mostly in a realistic sort of style. However, there are artists that I love such as Alphonse Mucha, Takeshi Murakami, Edmund Dulac, Casper David Friedrich, and local artist, Jordan Bent.
Were you a traditional artist before you started tattooing , or vice versa? Does one medium influence the other?
I’ve been doing art my whole life, and was studying Fine Arts in university for four years prior to becoming a tattoo artist. I’ve always loved drawing and I think I create tattoos that are similar to how I would draw with lots of detail and black and grey.
How would you describe your style?
I don’t really know if I have a style, but I really like doing black and grey realism with soft shading.
What do you think a client should expect from you as a tattoo artist, and what do you expect from a client to make a successful tattoo and good collaboration?
I expect that a client will come to me with an idea and an open mind. If they have a pretty good idea of what they want, it is preferable that they bring references for me to see. References let me know which way to go, what you like, and what you don’t like. As an artist, the client can expect me to listen to their ideas and make suggestions on how to make it better – if they are open to that. I will also let them know what is possible along the lines of size, placement, and detail, to make sure the client has a realistic view of what can be done. They can expect me to put all my effort into finding the right references for them and creating a tattoo they love. And if they don’t love the first drawing I do, there is no issue with us going back and forth until they are happy.
Who are your typical clients?
I don’t know if I really have a typical client. I’ve done all ages and all types of people.
Have you ever had a client come to you and ask you to do something that you don’t feel comfortable doing?
Luckily, I never had to turn down a tattoo because I am uncomfortable with it. I don’t think our shop really attracts the type of person who would be getting something offensive. We’ve had a few requests for penis tattoos, but generally the receptionists have had to deal with turning those down.
What do you think makes a good tattoo? Alternatively, are there any tattoo styles/imagery that you don’t like?
I think a good tattoo is anything a customer is happy with; however, if I had free reign to design it, it would be appropriately sized to the body part it is on, good flow within that placement, and perfect balance of light and dark to make sure the image pops out and is readable. People should be able to tell what it is without having to stick their face right in it.
What do you think is one of the biggest tattoo myths?
I think one of the biggest tattoo myths is “It will look horrible when you’re old,” or “what will people think of you when you’re a grandma with a tattoo?” I think that when you’re older your tattoo will age with you and will look as perfect for you as it did when you first got it. I think tattoos are so common now that everyone is going to have one when we are older. You wont be ” that Grandma with a tattoo” because everyone’s grandma will have a tattoo.
If you weren’t tattooing what profession do you think you would be doing?
If I wasn’t tattooing I think I’d be a teacher, which is what I originally had gone to school for, or illustrating picture books.
Do you have any advice for someone who is considering getting their first tattoo?
Anyone who is looking into their first tattoo should spend a lot of time researching artists. Look online at all the artists in your area, or further if need be. Maybe go into a couple of shops with the artists you like, to see if you like the vibe of the shop. Make sure you are certain of your idea. It’s best to sit on the idea for a while.