What is your background and how you got started tattooing?
In fact, when I was a child (about 10 to 11 years old), see some elders who have tattoos. I am full of curiosity and interest on the tattoo. Just at the time of Taiwan’s society, the tattoo is very exclusive, and even my parents think so. Even now, in Taiwan they still did not let the public agree. And I was just a kid who has no ability to judge right and wrong in the eyes of parents. When I express my favorite tattoo ideas, my parents severely scolded. My grandmother even said that the man who committed the crime would have tattoos. About 18 to 19 years old, I knew my friends to get tattoos. I like painting since I was young. I decided to start from myself. Of course, the first work is quite unsuccessful. After failed the first work, I decided to repair it, and then do the extension. I continued for a while. Until a friend asked me: “Ahein, if you help me tattoo a dragon head, how much money is it?” After that, I began to step on the tattoo road.
Would you like to tell us the most important steps in your career?
After serving military service, because of the parents’ opposition, I didn’t have tattoo-based job. Just occasionally, I use the spare time to help some friends tattoo, but the tattoo skill is very immature. So I fool around without target for several years. Finally, because of the encouragement of my friends, I use money with my work outside to rent a small room. I began to tattoo for others. The process is quite interesting. After working for a few years, I met my wife (was still a girlfriend). She encouraged me to attend the tattoo exhibition held in Taiwan at that time. After the exhibition, I met a lot of domestic and foreign tattoo teachers. They all have serious attitude at work, and create different styles of works. After attending a few years of exhibiting, we become friends with each other and interact with them to understand each person’s personality. To know what they do about tattoo, and then be familiar with their creative line. Let me have different ideas. Then I think I should not still have foolproof, but also want to let tattoo to be my work well. I am hoping to do something different, not just to make money and do tattoos.
Do you have a subject or something which you’re particularly passionate about?
Most of my tattoos are paying attention about Asia. Because of the growth in Taiwan, I am also interested in the culture of neighboring Asian countries. Of course, other European and American countries tattoo works are also very unique. But because of different skills, the style performance is different. So I seldom make this type of work.
My works connect with majority of the gods or Buddhas in Asia. I also think that this type of subject help you have more imagination. It can let the works be more attractive. After the design of each piece, I will emphasize the facial expressions. I also consider the direction of the eyes, hoping to match the body language.
Most of my work is according to the subject of the guests. When I design the tattoo to the guests, I will add into my personal thoughts. If there is enough space, I will mix the “story” thing into the design. Let people know that the work in the expression of the story. I think the whole picture has connection with different stories. These works will be very special. When I was designing my work, I also included many things about Taiwan. I think there are many cultures in Taiwan are full of artistic sense, which is very unique. As an art worker, it should be presented to it. Also hope that these works can let more people know Taiwan, understand Taiwan.
Who are your mentors? And who do you admire now – in art, and in life?
The teacher who introduces me to a certain field of tattoo should be the third generations of Japan Horiyoshi III, although I have not seen him. When I was young, I was very shocked to see the Japanese tattoo photo album. At that time there is not the now popular tattoo magazine in Taiwan.
People in the photo collection, most of their tattoos are from Horiyoshi III works.
Paying attention to observe the traditional Japanese things, the bright colors are very beautiful. Compared with the black background, they are very attractive. The background of the black gradient depth is different and very charming. At that time I was deeply attracted by the young, deeply fascinated, but also interested in tattoos. And then I decide to be a tattoo teacher.
There are many modern painters, I feel quite admirable. They are able to use modern materials or skills, with different skills to express the old materials. It is like the singer who will sing the old songs now. In Taiwan, the cartoonist “Mr. 鄭問” is one of the painters I admire. His own painting style will let western ink painting, oil painting and other painting mix into the Chinese ink style, and produce a new style of painting. Not only is the unique style, the picture, its presentation is quite strong. He is a modern artist, quite rare.
In life, my most admired person is my father. From youngl to old, my father worked hard for our family life. He worked with his father when he was young. He is a steel structure cold work to be an old experienced master. He works in the calculation and distribution of work processes, the site installation angle and size. In the work site, he but also personally led the team construction operation, climb up and down. The places sometimes are on the roof of six or seven meters, the wind and sun, very hard and very dangerous.
I follow my father to work and know that it is a hard and dangerous job. He knows that he can not achieve success by himself. As well as my father’s thoughts and behavior also affect me a lot. Cherish the friendship between relatives and friends. For my life and work, he gives me a help.
Where are you working at the moment, and what dreams do you harbour for the future?
The current studio is in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I have been working here on the side. The future if I can, I want to create some special things. I hope to do something about arts like oil painting, ink painting, carving sculptures or learning penmanship.
What are your thoughts regarding tattooing, at this particular historic moment?
Now the trend of tattoo is very popular. People are gradually able to accept tattoos. After the popularity, perhaps people only see it as available “goods”, and forget it originally owned name “art”.
From ancient times, tattoos have its original special sign, include the local history, culture. Although in this tattoo you can use money to buy it. I want people to have tattoo, they should be able to understand it first. Just we travel around the world, eat the food of all ethnic groups, enjoy the beauty of the representatives everywhere, not just delicious and visual enjoyment, but should understand the story behind it.
What advice would you give to young people who are interested in following this career path?
Now there are more and more young friends getting tattoo work. No matter he is self-study or learning with the master. I would like to encourage everyone should be quite careful and hard to learn. In addition to learning the operation of tattoo equipment, should also strengthen the ability of the session. So you can create different styles of works. Also, to understand the environment of our own culture, our own customs is also very important. With these basic conditions, I would like to create works will be different, will be higher level. In the future, the whole tattoo environment will be very competitive. I believe this is good. So the work must also be great, and incredible.