Whether you’re exploring where to get your first tattoo or a veteran looking to add more ink to your collection, Hong Kong has no shortage of wicked tattoo artists and studios. After you’re done adding a little art to your body, fuel up at one of the city’s best restaurants and get a celebratory drink at a top-notch bar.
Hong Kong’s best tattoo studios
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 17 years. Kelly creates one-off custom designs for each and every person and welcomes bookings for consultations.
This fresh feelin’ tattoo parlour in Mong Kok is run by hip young duo Vince Yue and Marcus Yuen. The pair sport a fun flash tattoo aesthetic and use thick bold lines and vibrant, shocking colours in their designs. And, of course, they can do much more besides, like rockabilly styles and black-and-white motifs. Besides tattoos, the shop also offers inexpensive tapered haircuts.
Run by Jonny D, a former apprentice of local tattooing legend Jimmy Ho, staff at the Lair work diligently with you to create that perfect tattoo, providing creative input and everything down to suggesting the right tattoo artist to help achieve your vision. Conveniently located on Wellington Street in Central – possibly dangerously close to LKF for the inebriated – The Dragons Lair are masters when it comes to colour sleeves and full back tattoos. Consultation fee start at $200 with Jonny and $100 with the parlour’s other two artists, Evita and Carrie.
With celebrities like football hunk David Beckham and NBA legend Lebron James among his portfolio, 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, 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. Prices start from $1,000.
With a moniker like ‘Dragon King’, you know Dust ‘Horitsuki’ Wu is a great talent. Mentored by Nicckuhori, godson of legendary tattooist Horiyoshi III, Dust has set up shop in Sai Ying Pun. Covered with framed tattoo work and posters, Galaxy Tattoo III offers a much more contemporary vibe than many other parlours. 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. Starts from $800.
Jimmy Ho learnt everything about the trade from his father, James, who was the first tattoo artist in Hong Kong. Jimmy’s 40-year long career has seen him ink countless filmstars and gangsters. Surprisingly, the body of the veteran is pristine, without a spot of ink. Prices start at $650 an hour.
Lovinkit, along with other artists in the Sham Shui Po neighbourhood, aims to turn the area into an up-and-coming creative hotspot. Owner Jayers Ko Tsz-mei adheres to the strictest sterilisation procedures. She mostly specialises in colour and says she designs with a ‘painter’s touch’. The waitlist is between one and two months and rates start at $800. If you can’t wait that long, get a tat from Ko’s apprentice, Alan Yu Chun-lung, who specialises in black-and-white traditional American designs and charges $400 and up. He accepts walk-ins and appointments. From time to time, the guys host guest tattoo artists from abroad.
Walking in 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 in particular, though, naturally, they take client preferences into full consideration. Prices start from $1,000 an hour (for over two hours); smaller pieces start from $500.
Have you always wanted Mother Teresa’s face tattooed on your upper arm? With award-winning tat artist Kin Liu, you can get Jesus, Mary and the whole gang without worrying about a horror story of biblical proportions ending up on your skin. Kin Liu opened up his parlour, Soul Canvas Ink, in Sheung Wan after 13 years in the business and experience at Hong Kong’s revered Tattoo Temple. A respected tat artist in the community, he specialises in realistic human portraits, so if Mother Teresa isn’t your cuppa, he also does celebrity figures like Bob Marley, Al Pacino and even K-Pop star TOP. Prices for a black and white portrait go for around $5,000 and colour costs about $6,000. The wait time is usually two months for Liu to conjure up a design, though. If you have something already in mind, though, the wait is a mere week.
Female Chinese tattooist Sze C specialises in especially artistic tattoos such as scripts, butterflies and other custom designs. Aside from creating tattoo art, the artist has also turned her studio into an art gallery, showcasing her artworks and collborations with other creatives such as photojournalist Dean Cox.