We spoke with the founder (along with his partner Julian Ho) of ‘Wayang Kulit Tatu’ in Kuala Lumpur. And we found out how much true art lives in him.
Taco, I know you were born in Borneo and now you tattoo in Kuala Lumpur…
Yeah, I was born and raised in Sabah (North Borneo) and slowly started tattooing in 2007 under my mentor Jim Losaria. In 2016 I decided to move to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, to open ‘Wayang Kulit Tatu’ (IG: @wayangkulittatu) with my partner Julian Oh.
Your style seems to perfectly blend elements of Western Traditional tattooing with several others from Eastern tattooing. Is that correct?
I am heavily influenced by the energy and spirit of tattooing of the 90’s with its experimental abstraction expressed by tattooers pushing beyond the boundaries of the traditional style, coupled with my eastern heritage.
Having said that I don’t believe I have a certain one style that is consistent. I’m happy with that being flexible embracing growth and change as an artist.
Do you prefer large areas to make your work stand out, or do you also consider yourself a tattoo artist who can perform sought-after small pieces?
I love composing larger tattoos working with the movement of the body as well as one-shot tattoos. Both carry its own set of discipline and approach but what truly matters to me is the magic of the interaction with the person wearing the tattoo. What comes out as the tattoo is a direct result of those moments and engagements.
Your use of color is something very intense and gives character to your subjects. Do you spend a lot of time composing your palette?
I grew up skateboarding and so I guess being injected with that kind of strong skull-splitting graphics on boards, stickers and magazines had a huge impact on how I try to convey my work and the kind of energy I want it to have.
I’m always finding ways to bring more effectiveness to my tattoos with the use of black and solid colours.
My goal is minimising color blending but maximising the impact and longevity of a tattoo with simplifying how I execute them.
Tell me about your daily workplace, the ‘Wayang Kulit Tatu’ in Kuala Lumpur? You are quite a few artists within those walls, aren’t you?
‘Wayang Kulit Tatu’ (IG: @wayangkulittatu) started out as an idea me and my partner Julian Oh had during our extensive travels together. We wanted to start a shop that embodies the true spirit of tattooing that we both love and to radiate that side of tattooing and energy to create a shop with tattooers as obsessed as us to tattooing, to take care of it, to preserve its history and its culture.
I’m proud we have achieved that together as a shop and family with ‘Wayang Kulit Tatu’.
We have 8 tattooers, everyone a specialist in their own respective styles, everyone paints flash the old way, draws with pencils and paper, talks about tattooing everyday and most importantly motivates each other to be better. I’m truly inspired by everyone everyday.
You seem to be very active as far as guest spots and appearances at various international tattoo conventions. Can you give me a rundown of where you will be from this summer 2023 onward?
I attended the ‘Gods Of Ink’ (IG: @godsofinktattooconvention) in April and in May I was at the Capitol City Classic (IG: @capcityclassictatcon) in Sacramento. Both amazing conventions. I will be attending the Chiang Mai convention in November with my shop and then next year hopefully the same circuit as this again and the Kaiserstadt convention in Germany in September
And your last famous words are… ?
I don’t eat spicy food. Thanks!