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The Company Tattoo
The Company Tattoo. Photo: Etienne Leung

The 12 best Hong Kong tattoo studios

The lowdown on the coolest tattoo parlours in town that can add some colour to your body – and your life

Written by
Time Out Hong Kong
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There are some wicked Hong Kong tattoo studios these days. It wasn’t always the case, though. For a long time, tattoos carried a negative social stigma. As in many other countries, they were perceived as unsuitable for professionals and were often associated with gangs, especially if obviously visible on forearms and the like.

Attitudes have shifted in recent decades, inspired by celebs like David Beckham and actress/singer Cecilia Cheung proudly displaying their ink in the early noughties. Concrete proof of the wider acceptance of tattoos in Hong Kong came in 2012 with the establishment of the International Hong Kong Tattoo Convention, which now hosts well over 100 local and international artists.

So whether you’re exploring where’s the best place to get your first tattoo or you’re a veteran looking to add to your collection, Hong Kong has no shortage of hip tattoo artists and studios. And after you’re done adding a little art to your body, fuel up at one of the city’s best restaurants or get a celebratory drink at a top-notch bar.

The best places to get tattooed in Hong Kong

Blackout Tattoo
  • Shopping
  • Tattoos and piercings
  • Sheung Wan

With the belief that every tattoo should be a collaboration between artist and client, the edgy art of Blackout Tattoo reflects the style of Australian owner and artist Rob Kelly, who has lived in Hong Kong for more than 17 years. Kelly creates one-off custom designs for each and every person and welcomes bookings for consultations.

The Company Tattoo
  • Shopping
  • Tattoos and piercings
  • Mong Kok

This fresh feelin’ tattoo parlour in Mong Kok is run by the hip and happenin’ trio of Vince Yue, Dave Ryo Lau and Jamie Kam. The Company champions fun, flash tattoo aesthetics and liberally use thick, bold lines and vibrant, shocking colours in its designs. And, of course, the artists can do much more besides, like rockabilly styles and black-and-white motifs.

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The Dragons Lair Tattoo
  • Shopping
  • Tattoos and piercings
  • Central

Led by Jonny D, a former apprentice of local tattooing legend Jimmy Ho, the staff at the Lair work diligently with you to create that perfect tattoo, providing creative input and suggesting the right artist to help achieve your vision. Located on Wellington Street in Central – possibly dangerously close to LKF for the inebriated – The Dragons Lair crew are masters when it comes to colour sleeves and full back tattoos.

Freedom Tattoo
  • Shopping
  • Tattoos and piercings
  • Kowloon City

With celebrities like football hunk David Beckham and NBA legend Lebron James among his clients, you could say Gabe Shum is an artist to the stars when it comes to needles and ink. Shum, owner of Freedom Tattoo in To Kwa Wan, says his shop – supposedly Asia’s largest tattoo parlour – is inspired by 1950s and 60s decor, with a fusion of Asian and western touches. He has more than 30 years of experience and is an all-rounder when it comes to his work.

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  • Shopping
  • Tattoos and piercings
  • To Kwa Wan

With a moniker like ‘Dragon King’, you just know Dust ‘Horitsuki’ Wu is a great talent. He was mentored by Nicckuhori, godson of legendary tattooist Horiyoshi III, before setting up his own shop. At Galaxy Tattoo, Dust injects a unique flair into his artwork of koi fish and Hanya masks, though he is most famous for his dragon designs. With several resident artists at Galaxy Tattoo, each with different specialties, you’re bound to find a style right for you. 

Jimmy Ho Tattoo
  • Shopping
  • Tattoos and piercings
  • Mong Kok

Jimmy Ho learnt everything about this trade from his father, James, who was, so we’re told, the first tattoo artist in Hong Kong. Jimmy’s 40-year career has seen him ink countless filmstars and gangsters. Surprisingly, the body of this industry veteran is completely ink-free.

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Mofo Tattoo
  • Shopping
  • Tattoos and piercings
  • Tsim Sha Tsui
The space alone is worth a visit – Mofo Tattoo is decked out with all sorts of so-kitsch-it’s-cool paraphernalia, from neon-light signage and a pair of dragon and phoenix figurines to a life-sized ET in its dress and wig disguise. If you’re looking to get inked, this place has some of the best artists in town with styles ranging from brushstroke calligraphy to super kawaii. Aside from tattoos, Mofo also offers piercings that’ll make you stand out from the crowd.
Lovinkit
  • Shopping
  • Tattoos and piercings
  • Sham Shui Po

Lovinkit, along with other artists in the Sham Shui Po neighbourhood, aims to increase the appeal of the area as an up-and-coming creative hotspot. Owner Jayers Ko mostly specialises in colour and says she designs with a ‘painter’s touch’. From time to time, Lovinkit also hosts guest tattoo artists from abroad.  

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Star Crossed Tattoo
  • Shopping
  • Tattoos and piercings
  • Wan Chai

Walking into this TST space is like walking into your friend’s flat – cue comfy sofas and soothing music. And then you see Rich and Ross – South Africans who came to HK in 2010 to pursue their dream of running their own tattoo studio. The duo are big on Japanese-style designs, though, naturally, they take client preferences into full consideration. Remember, cash only!

Soul Canvas Ink
  • Shopping
  • Tattoos and piercings
  • Sheung Wan

Have you always wanted Mother Teresa’s face tattooed on your upper arm? With award-winning tat artist Kin Liu, you can get just that. Liu opened Soul Canvas Ink in Sheung Wan after 13 years in the business and experience at Hong Kong’s once-revered but now-defunct Tattoo Temple. A well-respected tat artist, Liu specialises in realistic human portraits, so if Mother Teresa isn’t your cup of tea, he also does celebrity figures like Bob Marley, Al Pacino and even K-Pop star TOP. The wait time is usually two months for Liu to conjure up a design. If you have something already in mind, though, the wait is a mere week.

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