16 May, 2018

Your Guide to Tattoos and Piercings in Hong Kong

16 May, 2018

Looking for some ink-spiration? We’re breaking down some of our fave tattoo styles and piercing trends, and noting who to trust on your body-mod journey.

No stranger to ink myself (sorry, mom), I get asked a lot about “where” to go for your next ink-fix. Whilst a reputable studio is important, I always suggest finding a style that you love, and then a talented artist to match. Most tattoo parlours have several artists with varying styles and aesthetics, so deciding on “who” you want, is really the question you should be asking. Check out a few of the popular tattoo styles below and our tips on who to go to satisfy your next ink craving!

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American Traditional
Realism & Portraiture

American Traditional

American Traditional, sometimes called “Old School” is probably the first thing you think of at the mention of a tattoo. That sailor with the epic “mom” heart on his shoulder and swallows on his collarbones? That. Known for its bold colours, thick outlines and crisp, 2-dimensional images, this stunning style always makes a statement.

Rob Kelly, Blackout Tattoo @blackoutbob
A previous Man of the Month, Rob Kelly is no stranger to Team Sassy, having personally inked me, as well as a couple of others from the office. Rob’s known for his gentle touch, striking colours and wicked sense of humour. He plays around with a bunch of styles, and whether its your first (or 20th) tattoo, you’ll be glad you checked out his one-man operation in Sheung Wan.

Blackout Tattoo, Hing Tai Commercial Building, 114 Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 9427 2278, www.blackout-tattoo.com

Dave Ryo Lau, The Company Tattoo @daverylolau
Looking to switch it up? Dave takes his spin on this classic aesthetic with an iconic red and black colour scheme. Browse his instagram if you’re looking to be inspired by his sharp contrasts and cheeky image play.

The Company Tattoo, Shop B, 3/F, 581 Nathan Road, Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 2349 2649, www.thecompanytattoo.com

Jun Ngai, Freedom Tattoo @ngaiii
Jun’s unique colour palette makes his work stand out from your traditional American Traditionals by sticking to a mostly bold primary colour scheme with vibrant gradients and a touch of shadow. Hit him up for some fun whimsical imagery or custom traditional lettering.

Freedom Tattoo, 40 Ma Tau Kok Road, To Kwa Wan, Hong Kong, 2712 2332 www.freedomtattoo.hk


This aesthetic, and my personal favourite, has become increasingly popular and taken the internet (aka Instagram) by storm. “Blackwork” is a broad scope that covers many other different kinds of styles that are heavily black in ink, from minimal clean lines to detailed dot-work – as long as it’s black, it’s Blackwork.

Tapz, MoFo Tattoo @tapz_tattooer
Tapz will occasionally dip his blackwork needle into a coloured pot, but for the most part, his work is black. It always consists of incredibly thin, delicate clean lines and intricate details. Looking for delicate script, tiny constellations or a little light geometry? Tapz is your man.

Eugene, MoFo Tattoo @eugenel_tattoo
On the opposite end of the Blackwork spectrum, but working out of the same shop, Eugene’s style is ridiculously bold and beautiful while playing with some illusionistic qualities. Check him out for creative pieces that make you think.

Nicole Yu, MoFo Tattoo @nyyt.tattoo
New to the MoFo team, but coming up with a vengeance, Nicole is strictly dot-work. All her work consists of tiny, precisely placed dots that help shade and form the image from afar. Check her out if you’re a sucker for detail like me.

MoFo Tattoo, BASEMENT, 16 Observatory Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 66263080 www.mofotattoo.com


For the sake of the length of this article, I’ve combined some of the more iconic asian-inspired styles here, specifically traditional Japanese and Chinese tattoo art. Both styles cover similar themes and are usually traditionally significant or work as folklore narratives. So whether you’re a fan of a specific legend or just the style itself, keep on reading.


A post shared by Ross Turpin (@ross_starcrossed) on

Ross, Starcrossed Tattoo @ross_starcrossed
As the owner and tattooer at Starcrossed Tattoo, this tattoo veteran boasts mostly traditional Japanese inspired pieces with dynamic colours. Looking for a full-back piece or a stunning flash tattoo? Ross can.

Starcrossed Tattoo, 2/F, g4 Granville Road, Tsim She Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 3427 3820, www.starcrossedtattoo.com

C, Sze C Tattoo
C draws a lot of her inspiration from traditional Chinese ink paintings, and some of her best works combine this style with her client’s own vision. An artistic soul, her studio is in a quiet corner of Sheung Wan which allows her to focus. Not ready to commit? C also offers beautiful temporary tattoos, so you can test the waters for a weekend before you take the plunge.

Sze C Tattoo, LG Shop C2, 89-95 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 9780 1853, szectattoohk.wordpress.com

Jenna, Friday’s Tattoo @jenna_tattoo
Jenna puts a fun, feminine twist on traditional Japanese characters and imagery. From a detailed mini Hokusai recreation to a bright and colourful snoopy in traditional Japanese garb, her amusing touch shines a fresh perspective on this classic aesthetic.

Friday’s Tattoo, 1A, 34-36A Cameron Road ,Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, 5595 0130, www.fridaystattohk.com

Gabe Shum, Freedom Tattoo @gabeshum
With a lot of great one-liners attached to his name, Gabe is not only is the owner of Freedom Tattoo (Asia’s largest tattoo parlour) but also the founder of the annual and very successful Hong Kong China International Tattoo Convention. Oh, and he’s also inked David Beckham and Lebron James. His work ranges from traditional brush Chinese calligraphy to classic oriental storytelling pieces.

Freedom Tattoo, 40 Ma Tau Kok Road, To Kwa Wan, Hong Kong, 2712 2332 www.freedomtatto.hk

Realism & Portraiture

Not for the faint hearted, this style best lends itself to dedications of loved ones or recreations of classic paintings and sculptures. This form turns the body into a canvas in a very real way. It sits amongst some of the most technically difficult styles, but have no fear – we’ve vetted some of the best for you below.

#ink #hktattoo #wolf #tattoo #girlportrait

A post shared by Kin Liu (@kinstattoo) on

Kin Liu, Soul Canvas Ink @kinstattoo
Kin Liu specialises in realistic portraits of people and animals (so go on, make room for Grandma on your arm). His 15 years of experience come with many words of wisdom – his advice for those looking for a tattoo is: “Be clear with what you want, but after that you have to trust your artist.”

Soul Canvas Ink, Flat A/ 23F Lloyds Commercial Centre, Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 932 68420, www.soulcanvasink.com

Karl Hung, MoFo Tattoo @beter.than.sexx
Karl takes a neo-traditionalist approach towards portraiture with his unique cartoony style, bold lines and bright pastel colours. With more than a few colourful animals in his book, check him out for a completely original take on your fluffy one.

MoFo Tattoo, BASEMENT, 16 Observatory Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 66263080, www.mofotattoo.com

Wang, Friday’s Tattoo @wangstattoo
Looking for depth and tactile-looking brush strokes? Wang has honed his style from years of studying classical painting and learning his tattoo trade in Ireland. His love for fine art translates beautifully on the skin in gorgeous fluid movements. Check him out for delicate watercolour-inspired pieces, or for more ink-like drama.

Friday’s Tattoo, 1A, 34-36A Cameron Road ,Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, 5595 0130, www.fridaystattohk.com


Gone are the days where a piercing gun cuts it, it’s time to pay homage to the skill and talent that is body piercing. Professional body piercers can take up to 3 years training and are extensively trained in the human body and how a new piercing may affect your circulatory system. They will take the utmost care and make sure a needle is used to keep things sterile and almost pain-free. This may come with a higher price tag, but the level of professionalism and artistry is worth it.

Sara, MoFo Tattoo @SaraPiercedMe
Adding to the talented MoFo family, Sara is a professional body piercer, originally trained in Canada with an affinity towards statement-making body jewellery. From your regular lobe piercings, to dermal anchors and your more delicate nipple piercings, she’s one to trust. Keep an eye out on Sara’s instagram posts to pre-order some unique pieces from overseas!

MoFo Tattoo, BASEMENT, 16 Observatory Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, 66263080 www.mofotattoo.com 

Jason Choi, Cubist Tattoo @cubisttattoohk
Owner and solo piercing and tattoo artist at Cubist, Jason is a quick and professional choice for your ear, nose, bellybutton piercing and ear stretching needs. Even though this studio is in the centre of LKF and it can be tempting to pop in for a quick mid-happy hour bling, be sure to call ahead first! There’s nothing more disappointing than getting amped up for a new piercing only to find out that someone’s in for a 4-hour tattoo appointment (true story). 

Cubist Tattoo, 4/F, 7 Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong, 54965656, www.cubisttattoo.com

BOOM Studio
This one-stop tattoo and piercing shop, is currently the only studio in Hong Kong to do full-body piercings. Yes, full. Looking to spice things up with a Prince Albert or a clit piercing? Give Boom a look.

BOOM Studio, Room D, 2/F, City Mansion, 491 Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, 9287 3128, www.tattoo.com.hk

All studios listed above are full of trustworthy and talented artists that would make this list never-ending, so if you’ve got an insatiable ink appetite, check out the individual artists’ sites and Instagrams for some more ink-spiration. Happy inking!

Featured Image courtesy of Unsplash

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