Lucy Hu is a Tattoo Artist working in Alhambra, Los Angeles, USA. Part of the Horiyen Family she is the first Jess Yen’s apprentice who has entered in this tattoo family. She now works at her Master Parlors: MyTattoo shops, one located on Alhambra and one on Huntington Beach.
Born in 1983 in Canton (South of China) she comes from a Musicians and artists Family.
At that time, the tattoo industry wasn’t as big as it is now in China. It was a very small and private business.
Attracted by the fashion industry, she started study it. At the same time she taught herself the art of piercing, practicing on her and some friends. This natural skill would help her in the future, even she didn’t know that.
During her childhood, she travelled to visit her grandmother in Phoenix, Arizona for three months. Then when she moved back to china, she went to a cosmetic convention. There, she met a guy doing demonstration a tattoo machine demonstration for free. He was from Phoenix. He gave her her first tattoo ever on her lower back. She handled the pain very well, she was 16teen.
At the age of 20, all the family moved to L.A. She had to worked to pay for her Fashion class and started a part time job in a dentist office. One of her coworker asked her to come with her to a tattoo shop to be tattooed. That shop was MyTattoo in Alhambra.
She loved the place, and was wondering about doing a part time job in that tattoo shop. She became a piercer at My Tattoo in 2004.
During her work time at My Tattoo, she saw Master Jess Yen teaching some apprentices and was very interested in it. But she kept focus on her fashion studies… She was so interested in the tattoo world that she asked Master Jess Yen to teach her, he refused many times as she kept asking.
She practiced by herself at home, but never told him. She wanted to show him her art and her heart. Months later, she showed him her work. «You have pretty nice line and drawings», he said. He changed his mind and accepted her as his apprentice.
As an Asian she knew the way Master Jess Yen was teaching and she was sure she could handle and understand it. Strong and very strict. Many apprentices had failed in the months and years before.
The fact she was a female was not a problem for him, but he always told her: «You are an emotional girl, I won’t treat you as a girl, be strong».
When her Master asked his apprentices to draw a design 10 times, she drew it 20 times. When her Master was tattooing, she was watching him working and she was so close that he was complaining «Why are you sticking to me? Go away you are disturbing me!». When her Master was too strict with her, she said nothing but once at home, she cried … and practiced again and again. Giving up wasn’t an option for her. Even if Master Jess Yen was pushing her all the time, she accepted it and worked harder.
Master Jess Yen’s wife’s friendly and smoothy attitude helped to cope with the Master’s very strict teaching. Donna Yen Donna wasn’t at the shop everyday. But when she was there, her smile and kindness gave Lucy some comforts during her apprenticeship.
She wasn’t the only apprentice at that time. Plenty of them failed, but she never felt awkward with it. She kept focusing on her. She felt it was an individual journey and apprenticeship.
Her skill, concentration and abnegation were so strong that her apprenticeship was quick. Only after three months of teaching, Master Jess Yen asked her if she wanted to fill some lettering. The quickly she started with Walk ins customers, providing anything they wanted. At the beginning, she wanted to do some Asian style, but she was so thirsty of tattooing that she could do anything.
She was 21 and some clients asked her to see her portfolio before accepting being tattooed accepted after watching what she was able to do. She had more female clients, as they felt more comfortable with a woman tattoo artist.
About two years later, Master Jess Yen told her «I acknowledge you as a member of my tattoo family». That day he tattooed his name on her back. She was the first apprentice how succeed, and it was a woman. Positive word-of-mouth spread fast as customers kept coming back and consequently her style developed quickly. She loves what she does, and her clients ask it to her because they can feel that she put her heart in her work.
Now she became her master’s right arm. Step by step she has proved him he can be confident with her. Their relation ship alternately moves from father&daughter to Brother&sister or Teacher&student. She was doing better and better everyday for showing him he made the right decision.
Even if she does some TV shows or she travels the world for conventions and exhibitions, she never forgets where she comes from. She will do her best to show that she deserve to work under the banner of Jess Yen Family and the most important for her is to see her customers smile while wearing her tattoo’s.
Lucy Hu from Horiyen Family is the perfect example of a successful traditional Asian apprenticeship within one of the most talented tattoo family.
Make sure you follow her work and travel around the world as it is not a way for you to miss he!