Tattoos may have been around for 5,000 years but they’re getting a bit more air time in the worlds of pop culture (hey, even the women from The Real Housewives of New York are doing it) and fashion lately.
In the first episode of the Gossip Girl reboot, protagonist Julien Calloway namedropped celebrity tattoo artist Dr. Woo as the man behind the discreet ink drawing of two circles on the nape of her neck.
Coincidentally, the in-demand Los Angeles tattooist who is known for his single-needle designs also made headlines recently for turning his work into decorative prints for Sacai’s design outing with Jean Paul Gaultier during the recent haute couture season.
While not all tattoo artists have achieved the million-strong following a la Dr. Woo here in Singapore, the trade is definitely booming judging from social media following and an injection of fresh young blood keen to make a mark with different techniques like blackwork or Realism-inflected art.
In fact, we’ve observed more and more tattoo apprenticeships taking place in Singapore. Tattoo parlours such as Wild Paw Tattoo Co, Atypical Room, Vagabond Ink and Tattoo World Sg have at least one young tattoo apprentice under their wing, with Tattoo World SG having as many as four.
The work of LA celebrity tattoo artist adorned the designs – and inspired the makeup – of Sacai’s couture outing with Gaultier Paris in July.
Emelyn Ashley Chang, who practices at Tooth & Nail, agrees that more young people are taking to the field. She estimates that the pool of tattoo artists has at least doubled or tripled since she started tattooing five years ago.
“There’s definitely been an insurgence of budding artists since I’ve started,” agrees independent tattoo artist Ashley Seow. “This is partly due to the amount of information on tattooing and techniques like hand-poking that’s published online, making the craft a lot more accessible to the masses.”
On why tattoo making is such an appealing craft today, Seow says: “Tattoos are a great form of self-expression. As an artist, you’re always able to explore different styles and elements in your work, and it’s exciting when a client comes in with an idea that you would’ve never thought of and it pushes your boundaries.”
In the story ahead, we get to know four young women and learn how they are putting their own stamp on the trade.