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Beijing Ink

As we all know, China is a rapidly modernizing and developing country and the (mainly young) people are taking up western trends enthusiastically. Tattooing in China is unsurprisingly an underground thing, like it is in the west, but the number of tattooists around the capital, Beijing, is surprising. I had originally gone to Beijing to study, and whilst there, I was constantly thinking about tattooing and various ideas, as I usually do. My flatmate had decided that he wanted to get his first work (he ended up with a half-sleeve of a dragon) and he trawled through the streets of Beijing searching for artists and studios. He reported back to me his findings and eventually he got inked at Yaksa Tattoo studio by Hu Song. I had a close look at his work and was impressed. So much so that I decided that it was time for me to feel that sweet kiss of the tattoo needle again.

So two years had passed since my last tattoo was done and I'm back in a studio looking to get some work done. My flatmate took me to the studio and introduced me to the artist, Hu Song. I was impressed, impressed with the studio, impressed with the artist and impressed with his portfolio. I expected China to have artists but I had not expected them to be anywhere near western standards, work-wise or hygiene-wise. However, Yaksa and Hu Song were just like any other reputable studio and artist I've been to in the UK. I browsed through his portfolio, checked his photos and sketches, compared work that he'd done before that was similar to what I wanted, and chatted with him.

Since I was about 16 I'd always wanted a tattoo of a koi, I think they're beautiful creatures and make for great tattooing, and the symbolism that surrounds them. Now that I was in China, I thought there was no better place to get the koi done, being an Asian style tattoo and all. I discussed with Hu Song what I wanted and we looked at some designs he had, then he sketched out a design based on what we discussed. Basically it was a large-ish koi swimming up my upper arm with his head coming up onto the top of my shoulder, with waves and water and the traditional black background that you see in Asian tattoos. He drew out exactly what I wanted and got straight to work.

Now I was getting to compare western tattooing with eastern tattooing, and I have to say, there's not much difference when it comes to it. Machines are the same, techniques generally are the same, hygiene procedures the same. He used the same set-ups that I've seen here in the UK, two machines, one for line work, one for shading, along with fresh needles and ink. It took about 8 hours in total to complete my koi half-sleeve and that sucked. I love everything about tattoos but I can barely deal with that much tattooing. Now I don't find it painful much, just 8 hours wears you down a lot, it's tiring, and your arm gets sore like a motherf-----. Yet it's all worth it. I ended up with a beautifully shaded black and grey koi. The line work is great and the shading is way better than what I've seen in a lot of places here in the UK. I'll get the photos up on BME, have a look. I'd waited two years since I last got tattooed and saved up a lot of money and I can say it was well worth
it. I'm just completely happy with how it's turned out.

I'm returning to Beijing later on this year. I'll definitely be paying another visit to Hu Song for my next tattoo. Just need to get some more money together. I also want to find out more about the tattooing scene in China, see how the tattoo culture fits in with their traditional culture. I might even try and get an apprenticeship! I'd love to get into tattooing. It's the only form of art that I truly love and I think it'd be awesome to have your whole career, your whole life in tattooing.

In the end, all I want to say is that if you're in Beijing and looking to get a tattoo, check out Hu Song at Yaksa Tattoo in Longfusi. There are a few studios around but his stands out. As I've said before, his standards of hygiene and tattooing are the same as here in the west. The other places I've seen I wouldn't recommend: they don't look clean, the artists appear to be uninterested in work or what you want specifically and more interested in money, they just don't seem right at all. The tattooists will usher you in, offer to tattoo you for a lower price than others, rush the work and then you leave with a dodgy tattoo and regrets.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to get in touch.

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submitted by: Anonymous
on: 01 Sept. 2008
in Tattoos

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Artist: Hu+Song
Studio: Yaksa+Tattoo
Location: Beijing%2C+China

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