Visual Arts

May 17, 2013

Skin Deep

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Written by: Alba Ma
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Little is more intimate and personal than permanently marking your body. RAW speaks to Hong Kong’s top tattoo artists who are redefining the way we look at this ancient form of body art.

There’s a lingering blunt buzzing sound as we walk into Tattoo Temple, a tattoo parlor hidden in an upper floor of a nondescript building in the heart of Lan Kwai Fong. Awash in a dark violet hue, a small reception area is upfront and two black leather reclining chairs tucked behind a screen. The space is small and full of people both flipping through snapshots of previous designs on an iPad or queueing to speak with Chris Anderson, who’s the key master to booking an appointment. When we arrive in the early evening, a girl is sprawled on one of the reclining chairs as the artist finishes off the contour of a trio of large lilies that span from her shoulder blades down to the small of her lower back. “It’s a truce symbol,” shares the admiring patron, a young girl in her mid-twenties. “My mom and I have been having a hard time recently, we fight a lot and I want this to be a symbol that I still care.”

Every tattoo has a story.

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Clients are drawn from all four corners of the globe for one thing only—Joey Pang, founder and creative director at Tattoo Temple. Having started off as a student of fine art, Joey dabbled in painting and sculpture and had a brief foray as a makeup artist before she stumbled on tattooing as art. Working in numerous fields to get by while searching for her true calling, it wasn’t until she went to New Zealand and discovered the tribal tattoos of the Maori people, that she realized the potential of this ancient art.

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The initial encounter sparked her curiosity. Not having a single tattoo on her bare body, nor much knowledge of the subject, Joey embarked on a journey that would bring her to tattoo masters from Asia, Europe to Polynesia. With each tattoo that was applied onto her body, she learnt a new technique from a master, many of whom are legendary in their field. From their teachings, Joey formed her unique touch—a definitive slant towards Chinese aesthetic. “The tattoo artists advised me that if you’re a Chinese person, you should really show people your language and your culture – from that moment on it became my mission,” says Joey.

By Alba Ma

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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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