As the dust settles on Tattoo Temple’s highly controversial downfall, a new tattoo juggernaut is set to take the title in Hong Kong’s budding tattoo scene. Friday’s Tattoo made its debut in 2016 with an ensemble of artists with a wealth of experience on the international stage, a few of whom are Tattoo Temple alums. Now with a year under their belt, Hong Kongers of all walks are lining up to get inked by their artists.
Talking about the tattoo landscape of Hong Kong, we spoke with founders Jamie Kam and Wang Pang, who built their studio on the philosophy of crafting genuine original body art. When it comes to getting your ink here, it’s not as simple as picking a butterfly tramp stamp out of a sizeable laminated book. On top of a 3-month waiting list, each artist at the studio works extensively to craft a design that pairs their artistic prowess with your chosen visual elements.
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“We don’t want to be those old style tattoo parlours where you come in and just choose a design. It should be unique. I had an experience before where I had a tattoo a while back, and I saw someone who had the same one, and it’s just not a good feeling. It should be tailored; it should be made for you; it should be personal. This is what we provide.” – Jamie
Like any artist worth their salt, a signature style is what puts them on the map. At Fridays Tattoo, each of the 5 artists has a strong identity that has become synonymous with their parlour. “Having a signature style is crucial, every artist needs one. For me it took a few years, I did a lot of painting before and wanted to bring that element into it. You explore and experiment. You also find that when your technique gets popular, and people start to request it more and more, that’s when you start cultivating it”.- Wang
Being so sought after, it’s not surprising that people come knocking, asking for designs that they’ve spotted on Instagram or even art created from their Tattoo Temple days. “It’s a common request, but it’s not something we do. We can use old pieces as inspiration to create something new but to copy is out of the question” – Wang
“When it comes to designs from our Tattoo Temple work, we have to explain that time has passed and our styles have already evolved since then. We believe the work we produce now is truly our best, so sometimes we do have to say no.” – Jamie
Based in TST, they now see a variety of customers coming through the door. Where once tattoos were associated with sailors and blue-collar workers, nowadays a full sleeve is almost pertinent to being a Michelin star chef in Central. Friday’s Tattoo certainly doesn’t discriminate, and they believe the stigma is dissipating, working with high-end executives to police officers, even 60-year-olds getting their first piece.
Where once folks would avoid body art for fear of backlash, they now embrace it, a handful choosing strategic placement if they ever feel the need to keep it hush-hush. By Wang or Jamie’s count, neither occupation, age or lifestyle is dulling the demand for body art in Hong Kong. Whilst your Chinese mother might still sneer at the idea of it, the rest of HK is becoming much more open and expressive with their ink these days.