When tasked with this photo essay of tattooers in the country, I was pretty excited. Being a tattooer and also a photographer, this gives me a chance to portray the craftsmen of my industry from a different view, a more personal one.

Below are some of the few individuals I call colleagues and peers, most of whom I know very personally and have become great friends and family but most importantly, these are the people in my industry who I have such high regard and respect for. Whilst photographing them, we speak casually as mates, I ask them a few questions and pick their brains.

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TACO JOE, 26.  Black Ink Industry, Kota Kinabalu. Tattooing for seven years.

Q: You travel to Europe to tattoo quite a lot, what is the one thing you never forget to bring?

A: Without a doubt, Maggi seasoning sauce!

 

JASONHANNA copy JASON HANNA, 32 Pink Tattoos, Bangsar. Tattooing for three years.

Q: Having just made the move to Malaysia, how do you like durians?

A: I haven’t tried durians, but I am kind of turned off to fruit that has texture of cheese and tastes like garlic and onions.

 

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JOSHUA NONIS, 38. Blackcat Tattoo, Sunway. Tattooing for 18 years.
Q: How has fatherhood changed your life?

A: Fatherhood has changed my life in every way – it has made me want to work harder to provide for my family and to be a better person.

 

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ELTON NONIS, 41. Blackcat Tattoo, Sunway. Tattooing for five years.

Q: How important is family to you?

A: My family is my life, and I would die for them.

 

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HAIYUAN SUN, 32. HaiYuan Tattoo Studio, Kuala Lumpur. Tattooing for 10 years.

Q: Why did you pick Malaysia as your home base for tattooing?

A: I was invited to come to Malaysia to teach tattooing at a local tattoo studio just for a short term. But while I was here, I met Hishiko, we fell in love and got married, so it was automatic that I set Malaysia as a place for home and work.

 

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HISHIKO WOO, 29. HaiYuan Tattoo Studio, Kuala Lumpur. Tattooing for four years.

Q: What is it like being married to and working alongside your husband who is such a talented tattooer himself?

A: I thank God! It’s the best gift ever!

 

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LYNDA CHEAN, 29. Pink Tattoos, Bangsar. Tattooing for six years.

Q: You love owls, and if you were able to keep them, how many would you have and what would you name them?

A: I would have two and their names would be Come and Back because I wouldn’t chain or cage them. So I’d always be asking them to come back, “COME! BACK!”

 

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KEVIN MITCHEL, 35. Blackcat Tattoo, Sunway. Tattooing for eight years.

Q: Who in your life has been your biggest supporter and why?

A: Definitely my wife and our families. Through up and downs, they have always been by my side.

 

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JIUN, 31. InkCraft Tattoo Studio, Kuala Lumpur. Tattooing for 10 years.

Q: You have chosen to run a private studio, tell me why this works for you?

A: A private studio works really well for me because it gives more time to constantly produce custom work and rad designs, as opposed to walk-ins, which I might not have time to create something more extraordinary.

 

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FIN T, 26. Pink Tattoos, Bangsar. Tattooing for two and a half years.

Q: Who inspires you the most, and if you had the chance to bake/cook for them, what would it be and why?

A: Most would simply be strangers who are kind to me and the people around them. I would definitely make them peach and banana crumble! It is one of my favourite dishes that my mum makes and everyone loves a crumble and vanilla ice cream.

Photos and interviews by Julian Oh.