Looking for some ink-spiration? From our fave tattoo styles to piercing trends, we’ve got you covered (pun fully intended)!
Let’s face it, once you’ve got your first tattoo, you’ll probably walk out of the studio planning another. The same goes for piercing – you might start off with the one simple earlobe-piercing, but find yourself on Instagram browsing for more #piercing_inspo.
Whilst a reputable studio and artist is important, you should always find 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!
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, two-dimensional images, this stunning style always makes a statement.
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.co
Rob Kelly, Blackout Tattoo @blackoutbob
A previous Man of the Month, Rob Kelly is no stranger to Team Sassy, having personally inked some members of the office. Rob’s known for his gentle touch, striking colours and wicked sense of humour. He plays around with a bunch of styles, so whether it’s 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
Jun Ngai, Freedom Tattoo @ngaiii
Jun’s unique colour palette makes his work stand out from other 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 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 heavy on the black ink, from minimal clean lines to detailed dot-work – as long as it’s black, it’s Blackwork.
Nicole Yu, Clasself Tattoo @nyyt.tattoo
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!
Eugene, Clasself Tattoo @lin.eugene.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.
Clasself Tattoo, 3A Room, 13 Tai Yip Street, Yet Sand Industrial Building, Ngau Tau Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 6381 9981, www.facebook.com/classelftattoo/
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.
MoFo Tattoo, BASEMENT, 16 Observatory Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, 6626 3080 www.mofotattoo.com
For the sake of the length of this article, we’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.
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 Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 3427 3820, www.starcrossedtattoo.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.fridaystattoohk.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 he’s also the founder of the annual and very successful Hong Kong China International Tattoo Convention (the next event is due to take place in August/September 2020). 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.freedomtattoo.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.
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, 23/F, Lloyds Commercial Centre, Wing Lok Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, 9326 8420, 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, Hong Kong, 6626 3080, 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.fridaystattoohk.com
Located in Tsim Sha Tsui, Zink Tattoo is owned by Zac Wong, an award-winning tattoo artist with 13 years of experience, and his wife Vivi. If you take a look at his portfolio, you will find some jaw-dropping black-and-white portraits that look like they came straight out of a photograph. So if you’re thinking of getting a portrait of that special someone on your arm, definitely check this studio out on Instagram or make an appointment here!
Zink Tattoo, 3/F, 30A Granville Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 2986 8810, www.zinktattooshop.com
With splashes of vibrant colours and whimsical designs, the watercolour tattoo style has been taking Instagram and Pinterest by storm the past few years. Much like the fine art technique, the watercolour style often diverges from your traditional heavily-outlined tattoos and introduces a much softer approach to the unique body art form. So if you’re a bit intimidated by the bold lines and arm-length dragons, you might want to check out some of our favourites below!
Sassy Tip: This style of tattoo is also very popular in other countries like South Korea, so if you’re still looking for a design that speaks to you spiritually, try searching this hashtag on Instagram: #수채화타투
The aesthetic, the colours, its Sailor moon designs – where do we even begin? From playful corgi cartoons to simple floral designs, Hello Tattoo will definitely not disappoint. With over 83k followers on Instagram, studio owner Mini Lau was a tattoo apprentice in South Korea before she became one of Hong Kong’s first watercolour tattoo artists. We also hear that the studio is very insta-worthy, so don’t forget to snap a pic or two while you’re getting inked! To make an appointment, you can send a message via Instagram or Whatsapp!
Sassy Tip: Since the studio is located in the busy Kwun Tong industrial area, it might take some time to find the right place. We suggest leaving the house a bit earlier if you have an appointment, or grab a friend who knows their way around Hong Kong!
Hello Tattoo Hong Kong, Unit S, 11/F, Block 2, Kwun Tong Industrial Centre, 460-470 Kwun Tong Road, Kwun Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 6644 8114, www.hongkong-tattoo.com
A cat-lover herself, Meiyee is your go-to artist if you’re looking for a classic watercolour tattoo of your pet (or a unicorn!). Apart from animal designs, Meiyee also works on illustrations featuring her delicate line work. Her creative colour arrangements will make you feel like a fairytale princess!
Meiyee Tattoos, studio address provided upon contact, 9735 6962, www.facebook.com/meiyeetattoos
Carol, Girl’s Tatoo @w.caroltattooer
If you’re a minimalist looking for a splash of colour, you’ll definitely fall in love with Carol’s watercolour designs! From clean lettering tattoos to dainty finger tattoos, there’s surely something for everyone. Apart from regular tattoos, she also does wonderful cover-ups, so drop her a message here if you’d like to cover up that misspelled “c’est la vie” tattoo you did a couple years ago.
Girl’s Tattoo, 2/F, 2R Sai Yeung Choi Street South, Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong, 6999 6444, www.girlstattoo.net
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. When it comes to piercing, we cannot stress enough the importance of finding a reputable piercer who understands the anatomy of the ear. On top of guaranteeing an almost pain-free process, professional body piercers will take the utmost care and make sure a needle is used to keep things sterile. While this may come with a higher price tag, the level of professionalism and artistry is worth it.
Sara, MoFo Tattoo @SaraPiercedMe
With years of experience, 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, 6626 3080, 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, belly button 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 four-hour tattoo appointment (true story).
Cubist Tattoo, 4/F, 7 Lan Kwai Fong, Central, Hong Kong, 5496 5656, www.cubisttattoo.com
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
SD Jewellery/Silver Dynasty
Founded in 2004, SD Jewellery is known for its swift piercing process and excellent aftercare service. With experienced piercers and implant grade materials, the whole piercing process will be over before you know it! Before visiting, it may also be worth visiting its Instagram page for inspiration or to view its online earring catalogue, where you’ll find earrings, bracelets, pendants, and more!
S.D. Jewellery/Silver Dynasty, Shop No.129,1/F, Causeway place, No 2-10, Great George street, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, 9287 3128, www.sdjewelry.co/
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 Instagram accounts for some more ink-spiration. Happy inking!
Editor’s note: This post was originally written by Béatrice Hug and was updated on 22, October 2019 by Lydia Ching.