Visual Arts

May 20, 2013

HK Ink: Mike Haskamp

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Written by: Alba Ma
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What is your most meaningful tattoo?
The tattoo on my back is of two Chinese Door Gods, which symbolize protectors of the home that are frequently seen on the doors of houses in Greater China. Images of Door Gods are some of my earliest and strongest memories from childhood: when I was growing up in Hong Kong, my parents’ office was in Tsim Sha Tsui, and when I would go over there after school or on Saturdays, I would always pass by the Peninsula Hotel, which has two of the most beautiful examples of Door God art… Although I rarely even see them because of their location, it gives me comfort to know that they are always with me, keeping an eye out for my family and me.
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Do you have any tattoos that you regret getting?
I got my first tattoo shortly after my 16th birthday, back when I was living in Bangkok. What I got should give you a sense of what an idiot I was back in my high school days: it was a small skull with a marijuana leaf on its forehead, inspired by the Cypress Hill logo… If my own children ever ask me about getting their first tattoos, I would have some very clear advice to give them based on my own experience: think long and hard about what you want, wait until you’re 18, and be smart about the size and location.

Do you consider tattoos as an art form?
Along with sculpture and carving, I think of tattoo as one of the highest forms of art, and tattooists as some of the most talented artists in the world. As with sculpture and carving, tattooing is a complex, three-dimensional art form, and leaves no room for error. Getting a tattoo is effectively a lifelong partnership between you and the artist—a statement that you are so confident in their skills and talent that you are willing to put their work on your flesh forever. And that you are willing to pay a price in physical pain as part of that process. I’ve been very happy to see tattooing gaining more respect as legitimate art over the past decade—it’s certainly well-deserved.

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Photos by Joyce Yung



About the Author

Alba Ma
Art has always played an important role in Alba’s life (ever since grade school when she discovered that art making could get her out of team sports). Upon completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Art History, Alba was a luxury travel PR manager before breaking out as an editor and writer for various lifestyle publications. She’s currently the deputy editor of a leading interior design magazine and freelancer based in Hong Kong.




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