In the past, tattoos and piercings certainly had a ‘reputation’, but these days they’re seen as casual accessories, self-defining markings and even high art. If you’re thinking about getting inked then make sure to check out the establishments below, which include some of the best tattoo parlours in the 852 that are redefining how we see body art (no Triad-affiliations required).
Soul Canvas Ink
Always wanted to pay homage to your favourite pooch? This is the place to do it! Kin Liu specialises in realistic portraits of people and animals (so go ahead, slap Grandma on your other arm!). Kin Liu has 12 years of experience, though the shop only opened in December. There is a short waiting list for this studio, but once you’ve got your consultation it shouldn’t take more than two weeks to start inking! Wing’s 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
If you want some banter with your pain (oops, sorry, I meant tattoo…) Rob Kelly of Blackout Tattoo is your man. All of his custom-designed tattoos come with a free dose of English humour, which will definitely make the experience more fun. Rob doesn’t have one particular style – he adjusts his designs to suit each of his client’s needs. However, if you want his specialty (at the moment!) it’s illustrative work with rich colour and solid lines. Blackout opened in 2010, but Rob has been in the business for over 10 years. He has a ton of advice for getting a tattoo, but his most powerful is this; “tattoos are like puppies, they’re not just Christmas. If you think you might not love your tattoo in five years or 50, then you probably shouldn’t get one.”
Blackout Tattoo, Hing Tai Commercial Building, 114 Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 9427 2278, www.blackout-tattoo.com
This shop is run by husband and wife team Zac & Vivi, with Zac doing the art and Vivi running the rest of the show. The studio has a great style that mixes classic art pieces, framed tattoo designs as well as deer heads in a pin-up girl meets The Cell type way – so you’ll have plenty to look at during your sessions! (The Cell was a totally underrated Jennifer Lopez film, by the way.) While they don’t offer piercings anymore, they still have some top quality jewellery, which is great for those of us with metal allergies! Zac specialises in portraits and Japanese style tattoos and has some great black-and-white designs on his portfolio. When looking for a tattoo Vivi advises you go to for quality, not price, “Good tattoos aren’t cheap and cheap tattoos aren’t good. A cover-up of a bad tattoo will cost a lot more than getting a good tattoo in the first place!”
ZINK Tattoo, 3/F 30A Granville Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, 2986 8810, www.zinktattooshop.com
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. C will try and get smaller tattoos done as quickly as she can, but larger pieces may take up to two months to arrange. Not sure if you’re ready to go all the way? She also offers beautiful temporary tattoos, so you can test the waters for a weekend and see what you think! C has started two different art projects too, Artouch and BodyRock. Artouch connects artists and buyers, and also hosts like music nights, film screenings, and tango classes for us mere mortals, and BodyRock is an annual event that gives all of its proceeds to Hong Kong charities (it raised $13,500 for Sunshine Action last year!).
Sze C Tattoo, LG Shop C2, 89-95 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 9780 1853, szectattoohk.wordpress.com
This cosy studio is just a few minutes away from Causeway Bay MTR, and it offers tattoos and piercings. All types of piercings. Seriously – all types (it’s the only place in HK for them too!). If you want to get one of the more, err… risqué… piercing options, but are nervous about trusting something so precious to someone with a needle – don’t be. The owner, Kenneth, has had his shop for over 15 years and has a great reputation for his ‘special skills’. When it comes to tattooing, Kenneth tries to get client’s work done as quickly as possible, usually within 2 weeks. He specialises in Maui and Tahitian style tribal tattoos, but he can also do beautiful freehanded pieces as well! In addition to tattooing and piercing, Boom Studio also does laser removal and temporary tattoos that last up to two weeks. Kenneth’s number one tip for getting a tattoo: “no names!”
*Boom Studio is currently under reconstruction, but Kenneth is still taking customers*
Boom Studio, 2/F City Mansion, 491 Jaffee Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, 9287 3128 www.tattoo.com.hk
Why save Henna for weddings and festival season? If you’ve got 15 minutes, you can have a gorgeous, Henna ‘tattoo’ done by the best! Sara and her team don’t have a set studio, so they come to you – great for a cheeky lunch break session. Henna tattoos can last for up to two weeks, and are often a rich brown or red colour (the pattern is up to you and the artist). If you fall in love with your henna design, the team will happily create an image for you to make permanent too! Sara only uses natural, 100% organic Henna, which won’t burn your skin like black henna can. Usually you’ll meet in Central or Causeway Bay, but if you need them for a party or event they’re happy to travel all around- including the islands! They also offer ‘white henna’ tattoos which are absolutely beautiful and wash away with water. Make sure you book well in advance for events though, as their evening appointments get booked up quickly!
Don’t be fooled by its location. Even though it’s right in the centre of LKF, this studio can be tricky to find! However, if you do manage it, you’ll be rewarded by their sleek, modern interior that looks a little like a night club. Actually, it looks like what I imagine Kat Von D’s happy place is – a little bit scary, but in a sexy, fancy way. In addition to customised tattoos, Cubist tattoo offers piercings, tattoo modifications and laser removal (time to fix that Spring Break mistake!).
Cubist Tattoo, 4/F 7 Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong, 2881 6234, www.cubisttattoo.com
Adam Chan Hair and Tattoo
Hate waiting on your boyfriend at the barbers? Well, if you bring him to Adam Chan’s place, you can get a little something done to pass the time. For now, Adam focuses on great haircuts, though he has recently started working on becoming a tattoo artist! There are two artists who will do the honour of inking you at this studio/barbershop. Their vibe is vintage – think Sailor Jerry and old-school Oriental-style tattoos. You can choose something from their flash board, or go for a customised design. If you want an appointment the best way to get in touch is through their Facebook or Instagram. Bonus: this is Sassy’s Man of the Month Francis Ricafort’s favourite place to get his hair cut, so you know it’s good!
Adam Chan Hair and Tattoo, 18/F Ho Lee Commercial Building, 38-44 D’Aguilar Street, Central, 6255 5450, www.facebook.com/hairhousebyadamchan
The Company Tattoo
A little treasure in Kowloon, this Mong Kok studio just opened last year. It has a great style and a cool, lounge feel. Owner Vince has turned this place into a total lad pad (ladies always welcome!) with a Marshall amp, video games, action figures and even a pet lizard. Vince’s style is more realistic, but he has a great team of apprentices whose work varies if you’re looking for something different. The waiting list for an inking is about a month, though once you get your consultation you’re finished within two weeks! The studio also has a great view of Nathan Road and they offer piercings – just make sure you book in advance.
The Company Tattoo, 3/F 581 Nathan Road, Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 2349 2649, www.facebook.com/thecompanytattoohk
The VIP parlour of tattooing, people come from all over the world and wait up to four years to get a piece done from this studio… and that’s only if they get accepted. That’s right – you have to get accepted to this studio! It’s easy to see what the craze is about though, as it feels more like a spa than a tattoo parlour. There are private consultation rooms, and each of the five artists has his or her own working room. The Temple provides noise cancelling headphones, iPads and even refreshments while you’re getting your piece done – anything they can do to make the experience more pleasant. Talk about service! Tattoo Temple also provides clients with a concierge service, basically someone on the staff who will handle every aspect of their work (useful while you wait for 3 years!). When thinking about your tattoo, they recommend thinking about something you love, something that inspires you. “Only go ahead when you know what you find beautiful. Then, leave the details of the piece with your artist. You don’t need to picture the final design.’
All of the artists were trained by owner and founder Joey Pang, ensuring consistent quality throughout this renowned studio. If you’re looking for something truly unique, Joey is the only artist in the world to offer her gorgeous Chinese calligraphy pieces, or you could opt for Wang’s delicate and unique water brush technique. In addition to tattooing, the studio offers ‘beauty art’, or permanent makeup.
Tattoo Temple, 1 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong, 2801 7300, www.tattootemple.hk
If tattoos aren’t your style, but you still want some edgy skin-accessories, these two companies specialise in ear piercings (and only ear piercings!).
A pricey option for sure, this diamond jewellery chain offers lobe and cartilage piercings for around $600. While yes, this is expensive, it includes the piercing, a pair of medical-grade stainless steel earrings and a 3 month after-care plan. The after-care plan gives you access to professional check-ups, though in our experience you won’t need checkups if you follow the cleaning instructions carefully! There are 50 locations throughout Hong Kong, so check out their website for the one nearest to you.
MaBelle, Shop 1013, Level 1, ifc mall, 8 Finance Street, Central, Hong Kong, 2501 5821, www.MaBelle.com
With 30 years of piercing experience, Isabella is the place to come if you’re looking to get your ears done. In addition to their own expertise, the staff uses precision-technology to ensure that your piercing placement is perfect for your unique ear shape. Piercings here can set you back anywhere from $360-$990, depending on the piercing and the earring. All of their jewellery is hypoallergenic, and you’ll also get a check-up one week after your appointment and three months after. They’ll even give you two $100 cash coupons after you get pierced, so feel free to ogle those cute flower studs – you just bought yourself an extra pair!
Isabella, iSquare, 63 Nathan Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, 2563 2222, www.isabella-asia.com
Not to scare you off, but before becoming a canvas, make sure you’ve done your research. You should be excited for your tattoo, not scared (although yes, it probably will hurt a little!). When you’re looking through an artist’s work, be critical of their portfolio. To quote Rob of Blackout Tattoo, “If an artist’s portfolio is half good and half bad, remember these are the pieces that they consider to be their best work! If you have a 50/50 chance of getting a crappy tattoo, I wouldn’t risk it.” And lastly, make sure their hygiene standards are the highest they can be. That means using new, sterilised needles for every customer, top quality inks and the highest quality piercing jewellery (and a needle not a gun on cartilage!). Don’t be afraid to ask questions – it’s your body, after all!
Lead image via Pinterest