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The best tattoo artists in Singapore

Meet the coolest tattoo artists in Singapore who leave indelible impressions on their clients

Written by
Michelle Ng
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Planning to get a tattoo? Well, whether you're looking for a simple design or an intricate art piece, get inked by these sought-after needle experts from some of the city's top parlours. Because when it comes to a piece of art that you have to carry with you for the rest of your life, you best splurge on perfection.

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Khai Mechbrain from Iron Fist Tattoo
Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Khai Mechbrain from Iron Fist Tattoo

@khai_the_tattooer

Right after finishing my military service, I asked my tattoo artist Deon Thomas from The Daily Dozen Tattoo Collective if he could teach me the craft. I did an apprenticeship with him for a year and a half and started full-time in October 2011. I opened Iron Fist Tattoo in 2015 and now have seven artists working out of this studio. 

I specialise in whip shading which consists of tony dots that make up a black and grey gradient and gives a texture to a tattoo. I also do colour and black and grey realism tattoos. I get inspiration from botanical illustrations, stautes, 14th to 18th century paintings and reference books. 

Iron Fist Tattoo958 Club St.

Lee Wai Leng from Traditions Tattoo Collective
Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Lee Wai Leng from Traditions Tattoo Collective

@fleecircus

I started tattooing full-time four years ago. I had always liked the art of tattooing, albeit from a distance, until my current mentor and boss Lionel Ng offered me an apprenticeship. I discovered his work on Instagram and admired how he updated tribal styles with superbly clean lines. So I took a leap of faith and left the creative and advertising field that I had been in for 15 years. 

Tattoo styles have been very line-work driven in recent years, it's interesting because a strong sense of personal style comes attached with this trend. My style is predominantly line-work and revolves mostly around black and grey nature themes such as animals and botanicals. 

Discovering other tattoo artists and their work, plus reflecting on how I can improve and take my skill set to another level are the best things about my work.  

Traditions Tattoo Collective40A Lorong Mambong.

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Olivia Lim from Wild Paw Tattoo Co.
Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Olivia Lim from Wild Paw Tattoo Co.

@n.eatoburrito

When I was in primary school, I used to watch MTV every day and the people in music videos were always covered in tattoos. I also watched a lot of Miami Ink on Discovery Channel. 

I started getting tattooed by Julian Chia of Wild Paw Tattoo seven years ago. I emailed him in 2015 about an apprenticeship and started immediately. I was lucky enough to start tattooing the same year. 

Sad but cute, that's what a client described my work as. I don't know if my style falls under a particular category but I get a lot of emails asking for something minimalistic with clean lines. I absolutely enjoy doing thick lines and flat colours too.  

Wild Paw Tattoo Co89 Canton St.

Clifford Wong from Singapore Electric by Gimmelovetattoo
Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Clifford Wong from Singapore Electric by Gimmelovetattoo

@wongplacewongtime

Tattooing is something I've always liked. After having lots of conversations with my tattoo artist Lionel Ng from Traditions Tattoo Collective, he gave me an opportunity to learn so I took it up and have not looked back since. 

My style is mostly black work, leaning towards line work and dot work with a little oriental influence. I design most of my pieces unless the client has a very specific request such as following their child's drawing or the handwriting of a loved one. 

Fantasy movies and old movies inspire me. I also try to learn what I can from other artists. I study their work and pay attention if I get the chance to interact with them. 

Singapore Electric by Gimmelovetattoo24 Bali Ln.

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Louis Tham from Lovesick Tattoo Studio
Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Louis Tham from Lovesick Tattoo Studio

@louislovesicktattoo

I've always been interested in body art from a young age. As a kid, I remember looking at people with tattoos and noticing how tattoos made each individual unique. 

I aways drew in class during secindary school. Shortly after graduating, a friend of mine showed interest in my drawings and asked me to tattoo it on him. So i bought a tattoo machine and did my first piece on him. Soon, more people started looking for me to get tattoos done. I also learnt a lot from my ex-bosses back at Ink by Finch Tattoo. 

I'm a realism artist and do mostly black and grey work. Meeting and interacting with people from all walks of life is the best thing about this job. My clients and I always end up sharing life stories and I've learned so much from my customers. Not only have they helped me become the artist I am today, come of them have made me a better person.

Lovesick Tattoo Studio#05-03, Parklane Shopping Mall, 35 Selegie Rd.

Ian Francis Low from Oracle Tattoo
Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Ian Francis Low from Oracle Tattoo

@pokedeepdeep

I've always had a fascination with tattoos from a young age. Growing up, all the rock stars I listened to had tattoos and I wanted to be just like them. In school I used to buy markers with my lunch money and doodle on my arms during class. 

In 2001, I was offered a job in a tattoo shop and that was where I met Sean Chua (also from Oracle Tattoo). I still consider him my mentor up till today. Although I've gone through a proper apprenticeship, he was the one who showed me the ropes and I'm grateful for that. 

People come to me for black and grey tattoos. I work with my clients to create a piece that we are both happy with. Typically, I customise designs digitally.

My hardworking family at Oracle Tattoo inspires me. We have a good kind of competition among ourselves that motivates me to keep working harder and improving my skills. They keep me on my toes. 

Oracle Tattoo19 Jasmine Rd. 

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Jen Tan from Visual Orgasm Tattoo and Piercing
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Jen Tan from Visual Orgasm Tattoo and Piercing

@jenxtattoos

I was helping out at an animal clicnic and performing surgery on animals. I love animals but I wanted to pursue art to express myself. In 2011, my friend Joey Ong, who is also a tattoo artist at Visual Orgasm, introduced me to Joseph Siow. I did an apprenticeship with him. I started having my own clients (a couple of) years ago, but I’m still learning new things from seeing Joseph tattoo.

I do a lot of handwritten scripts and that’s what I’m known for right now. When I was still an apprentice, Joseph asked me to write a few words for a walk-in customer, who didn’t like any Photoshop font. I wrote it, she liked it and Joseph tattooed it. He posted it online and people started coming in because they like the simple handwriting that almost looks like a signature. I can change my handwriting depending on what the client wants – sometimes thicker, more illegible or more carelessly written.

I also do line and dot work. I love doing watercolour, but I try not to promote it. Watercolour tends to dull over time, especially on Asian skin because of the yellow undertone, and sometimes people cannot accept that. It works best on very fair or Caucasian skin. I would love to delve more into black and grey realism in future.

If I’m doing handwritten scripts, I’ll just write two or three options on the spot and the clients will pick from there. My waiting list is about a month.

I completed a full back piece recently and it’s the first large-scale black and grey realism I’ve done – it means a lot to me. It started off as a tiny tattoo at the side of his shoulder but it expanded into a full back because he trusted me.

www.visual-orgasm.com, 2 Haji Ln.

Bradley Tan from Oracle Tattoo
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Bradley Tan from Oracle Tattoo

@bradleytattoo

I started out by chance. When I was 15, my friends and I had the brilliant idea to go to a tattoo shop to buy equipment. The guy at the shop (which isn’t around anymore) looked at my sketchbook of drawings and offered me an apprenticeship instead.

I did it for two to three years. And I’ve been in this fascinating industry that I’m very passionate about for 13 years now.

I do strictly black and grey realism with barely any colour. Clients come to me with anything from portraits and photographs to skulls and animals. Owls and wolves are popular. Strangely, I also get lots of requests for clocks and timepieces – I’m not sure why.

I design every client’s tattoo unless it’s something straightforward like his or her grandmother’s portrait, for example. While I don’t have to redesign that, I’ll still redraw it in preparation leading up to the session itself.

I usually work on one piece a day and one client takes up about 6 to 7 hours, including stencilling it on their body and the actual session. I only take five or six clients a week, and there’s a waiting list of roughly seven to eight months.

My pieces these days take quite a while to prepare, and can range from 6 hours to a few days for a full back or full sleeve. I occasionally get enquiries for smaller pieces but I dedicate more time to the bigger pieces.

Oracle Tattoo, 19 Jasmine Rd.

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Peenut Lee from Vagabond Ink
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Peenut Lee from Vagabond Ink

@peenutkewlee

I was painting a mural on someone’s wall, back in 2008 when I was in the UK, and he thought that I should tattoo him. He insisted that tattooing was the same as painting. Turns out it wasn’t! It’s completely different. After I came back, in 2010, I decided to give tattooing a try and did an apprenticeship here at Vagabond Ink with Valerie Yang.

There isn’t a proper term to describe my style. I would say that my tattoos are sketch-like with an unfinished look – that’s my most honest description. Most of my pieces look like sketches that you can’t put into a frame and actually call it art. It used to be a flaw but it’s what I’ve been doing, and now I see it as my style. I work with both black ink and colours.

I like to draw things that aren’t common. For example, recently I did a roller coaster – I thought that was so crazy and out of the world.

I don’t get booked out in advance. On a good day, the waiting list is around two weeks. If it’s a big piece that requires a long session, I just do one a day. If the pieces are smaller, I can do two or three a day.

Vagabond Ink, #01-19, 333 Kreta Ayer Rd.

Jared Asalli from Fingers Crossed Tattoo Company
Photo: Ahmad Iskandar Photography

Jared Asalli from Fingers Crossed Tattoo Company

@jared_asalli

I was drawing a lot when I was in National Service, and a friend suggested I try out tattooing. In 2011, I bought some cheap equipment, watched a lot of YouTube videos and did my first tattoo on a friend. That’s how I found out that I really wanted to be a tattoo artist. I did an apprenticeship at Vagabond Ink under Valerie Yang before setting up my own studio in 2014.

I do a lot of black work and try not to touch too much on colours. Most of my work revolves around dot work, geometry, and sketchy and etching designs. I see it as my style.

The intricacy of my designs comes from my childhood. My dad was an architect and he used to bring me around to project sites, where I spent my time looking at really detailed models.

I always ask clients for size, idea concept, reference images and placement of the tattoo. It saves a lot of time if clients already know what they want. I get requests for both large and small pieces, and my waiting list runs about two months.

Every new tattoo I do is my new favourite. But if I have to choose, it would be the four I’ve done for my wife. The most recent beach-and-mountain one is a combination of etching and dots. She waited four months for her turn so I had a lot of time to think about it, and I definitely put in extra effort for this piece.

Jared Asalli, #04-03 Bugis Cube, 470 North Bridge Rd.

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