Wanna Get Inked? – Best tats & parlours in Hong Kong
Permanent body art used to have serious bad rep in Hong Kong. For years, tattoos were associated with gang members, who got inked to mark their links with the criminal underworld. Even when mass-market tattoo parlours gained popularity as it became de rigeur for celebrities to get inked, in Hong Kong, they were still very much thought of as mistakes made by “rebellious youths” and not considered respectable.
Thankfully, things have really changed in the last decade or so. Artists are being recognised for their beautiful works of art etched on skin, and the annual Hong Kong Tattoo Convention is now in its fourth year.
Check out our picks of some of the best tattoo studios in the city, and top tips to remember while deciding on your first tat.
What’s the deal? Soul Canvas Ink is run by master tattoo artist Kin Liu, who’s been in the industry for over a decade and is famed for his craft in creating human portraits on skin.
How do I get an appointment? You can have Kin come up with designs, which will take around two months. Alternatively, if you have a likeness of someone in mind that you’d like to have inked, waiting time is around a week.
6B, Lee Man Commercial Building, 105-107 Bonham Strand East, Sheung Wan
What’s the deal? Jimmy Ho’s father, James, was the OG tattoo artist in the city, so you know you’ve got the real deal here. Specialising in Chinese and Japanese characters and patterns, Ho Jr is a well-respected member of the industry and prides his tattoos on being “pain-free”.
How do I get an appointment? Call (see below) or email jimmyhotattoo.gmail.com.
Unit C, 2/F, Po Lun Building, 175-181 Portland Street, Mong Kok, 6621 0451
What’s the deal? This studio is run by veteran tattoo artist Joey Pang, who’s all about creative, one-of-a-kind designs. Each tattoo design is created by hand by artists in-house Expect to shell out up to five-digit figures to be inked by Joey Pang – that’s if you can even get her to do it, of course.
How do I get an appointment? The waiting list here is currently a whopping three years long, and you have to apply to be considered (!!!).
What’s the deal? Freedom Tattoo founder Gabe Shum has some 30 years of experience in the art of tattooing, and his establishment uses top-of-the-range ink imported from America and Europe. If he’s good enough for Lebron James and David Beckham, he’s good enough for you.
How do I get an appointment? Contact Freedom Tattoo through its website. A custom design service is offered.
11A, Tung Nam Factory Building, 40 Ma Tau Kok Road, To Kwa Wan, 2712 2332
Before getting a tattoo…
Once you’ve decided you want a tattoo, settle on a design.
Figure out what your pain threshold is before deciding where you’d like to be tattooed. Avoid sensitive areas like the back of your knee, the arch of your foot and your funny bone.
Find a good tattoo artist, who has had good feedback. Remember, getting inked isn’t cheap – so if someone is offering a price that seems like a real bargain, think carefully.
While deciding on tattoo artists, check their portfolio. Make sure you like what you see. Remember: this is supposed to be a compilation of their best work.
On the day of, bring any reference materials (e.g. artwork) with you to the studio.
Impulsively decide to go get a tattoo. This probably goes without saying, really!
Drink before getting a tattoo. The booze can thin your blood.
Go alone, if it’s your first time. Bring a friend who you can chat to while getting inked. It helps, too, if it’s someone who has tattoos.
Stay silent. You need to ask all the questions you have.
Feel you have to justify your tattoo to other people. If you’ve given it some serious thought and decide that’s what you want, then go for it!
Need some inspiration? Check out some of our most favourite tats from Hong Kong Instagrammers below:
Andrea Lo is a freelance journalist and translator based in Hong Kong. After cutting her teeth in the industry as a staff writer at a lifestyle magazine, she embraced the freelance life in 2015 and hasn’t looked back. She spends her time exploring the best of Hong Kong’s dining and nightlife scene, trialling new fitness trends, and travelling to exotic locales – all in the name of “research”.