How did you get into
tattoos? 'I’m really into rock ’n’ roll music and all the singers have
tattoos. I’m also really interested in drawing so the two sort of came
together. It all just felt really cool.'
Which tattoo was your
first? 'My first one I did myself. I didn’t use a tattoo machine, it
was one of those machines to draw eyebrows. [The tattoo] didn’t really mean
anything, but now I think of it as a bird totem. My name has "Peng" in it,
which is a type of bird, so I think the tattoo was destiny.'
What’s the strangest
tattoo you have been asked to do? 'Sometimes you get clients that you know are just having fun
and aren’t serious. A big group of foreigners came here once and they were
going to tattoo one person’s name on the other person’s butt, which can be cool
too. Sometimes tattoos don’t have to be that meaningful or serious.'
Do people in China
have prejudices towards people with tattoos? 'It depends on the place. Nowadays in Beijing and Shanghai
it’s actually okay. Especially in Sanlitun, because almost everyone here has
tattoos. In China today, it’s really popular to get a tattoo; it’s a lot more
exciting compared to places like Japan or the West, where the tattoo fad has
kind of died down.'
What has been your favourite design? 'I had one client who was moving to
England. He got “Son of the Forbidden City” tattooed on his chest.'
Style Across the board.
About With three professional tattoo artists on hand to draw up whatever design your heart desires, Creation Tattoo is a solid option for first-timers and veterans alike. Old-school or new-school, you name it, you got it. Creation Tattoo also offers body piercings and tattoo removals. Call ahead to book before you go.
Price 800RMB for half an hour; 1,800RMB per hour for larger works.
Creation Tattoo B1-028 Shoukai Bojun Nanqu,
12 Xindong Lu (6468 8842). Open 1-8pm daily.
Mummy Tattoo Studio
Tattoo artist Xiaodong
How long have you been working at Mummy Tattoo? 'Roughly 19-20 years.'
What’s the difference between northern and southern China, tattoo-wise? 'I think
the main thing is differences in attitudes and lifestyles between the north and
the south. In the south they prefer smaller, more detailed designs, but in the
north they prefer bigger tattoos – a little bit like their personalities.'
about your own tattoos? 'Which was your first? The first was a tribal pattern
from New Zealand; a band-mate made it. What is the hardest tattoo that a
customer has asked for? Sometimes my clients ask for something funny and I
don’t really understand it, so it seems weird to me. For example, a guy might
want a cartoon version of his girlfriend and then later he wants to change it
so he decides to add a beard to the girlfriend’s face. Stuff like that.'
your style? 'I think I use more Chinese aesthetics; I have definitely been
influenced by Chinese culture a lot.'
Style Specialises in
traditional Chinese designs.
About Crammed with Buddha statues, Chinese
paintings and sweet-smelling incense. Xiaodong is one of Beijing’s tattoo
masters so you’re in safe hands. Available by appointment only.
for less than an hour; 2,000RMB per hour.
Mummy Tattoo Studio Room 1502 Shoukai
Xingfu Plaza, 38 Xingfucun er jie. (6417 8480). Open 11am-7pm Tue-Sat.
Yaksa Studio (CLOSED)
Tattoo artist Jennifer
Where are you from? 'Chongqing. We have a lot of good food
and beautiful girls.'
How long have you been working here? 'Almost two years. I have never had any other job and I just
want to do this one thing all my life. I love it.'
What brought you to Beijing? 'I came here because my husband
is from Beijing. In 2007, there was this internet forum with loads of rock ’n’
roll, motorcycles and tattoos – that’s where I met my husband. He was getting a
Lou Reed tattoo... that’s his god!'
For your own tattoos do you have any favourites? 'I have this
one of Walter White [from Breaking Bad] I got in Australia last year. What is
it like having tattoos in China? I think tattooing is now more acceptable to
people in my generation. But I think older generations, like my mum, have
started to accept them, too. My mum got her first tattoo last year. She got a
tattoo of a plum blossom and it’s really huge. She just said ‘I want one here
[on my shoulder],’ and I told her not to because I thought it was a bit lame,
but she insisted! So in the summer when she wears short sleeves she looks
Do you ever do things wrong? 'Yeah I do things wrong, but you
can usually fix it. When I did my first tattoo for a client I couldn’t even
hold my hand still. I was so happy that I was finally doing it!'
What has been your favourite design? 'My husband has always
wanted a tattoo of luzhu huoshao, the local food. You know the one with pig
lungs, intestine and bread?'
Style Across the board.
About A surprising gem tucked away in Dongzhimen, Yaksa
Studio has everything you could want from a tattoo studio; it’s bright and
clean with a team of keen artists and a soundtrack of your choosing. There’s
even a pet turtle aquarium, which adds a certain feeling of tranquility,
despite the buzz of needles. The tattooists are happy to do any design and have
a wide range of different styles. For Chinese art designs, go for Jennifer; for
old-school, more traditional Western tattoos, ask for Qiqi.
Price From 1200RMB-2500RMB per hour (depending on the
artist and design).
Yaksa Studio Room 614, Sixth Floor, Yufei Dasha, 42
Dongzhimenwai Dajie (176 0165 0338). Open by appointment only.
Pins and Needles
Tattoo artist Chacha
Where are you from? 'My hometown is in Hunan. You know, it’s
Chairman Mao’s hometown so it’s pretty famous.'
Why did you decide to become a tattoo artist? 'It was when I
was in Yunnan. I realised I should probably start making money so that I could
actually buy food. But I didn’t want to buy a tie and work in some office
building, so I thought it might be a good idea to start tattooing.'
Were you always good at art? 'I wasn’t that good in the
beginning. When I [started out] in Yunnan I made a lot of horrible tattoo
works. People said, "No, don’t go to Chacha. He’s just awful!" But you’ve got
to keep practising, and you’ll constantly improve.'
When did you get your first tattoo? 'My first tattoo was a
big mummy skull on my chest. It was really horrible, the line looked wrong, but
the tattoo artist said it would be fine after it healed. After it healed, I
realised he was just lying. So I was really sad about that. And it’s affected
how I tattoo people today as well. I don’t want to make any mistakes because I
don’t want my customers to have the same feeling I did back then.'
What is one of the best tattoo ideas a customer has given
you? 'One guy had a problem with his arm, he had surgery a long time ago to
remove all of the muscle. It was kind of creepy to touch because it was just
bone and skin. Later, when he was finally going to get rid of the arm, he
wanted to get "chai" [the character for
‘demolish’] tattooed on it to celebrate. It was a very dark joke – you can only
do that if you are tough enough. So I thought he was cool. That was a good
What is it like working with your wife? 'She’s my boss!
How do people react to your tattoos? 'There are a lot of
different reactions. Sometimes, there will be some old granny who just starts
laughing at me for no reason. Sometimes guys just grab my arm and ask "What’s
that?", which is so rude.'
What has been your favourite design? I had an American girl
get a tattoo of the Beijing Rabbit God, Tuerye,
as a memory of her time here.
Style Across the
About When you walk into this friendly, colourful and cosy
tattoo studio, run by Chacha and his wife, Nono, you’ll more than likely hear
Jimi Hendrix blasting from the speakers (although Chacha does reserve a special
playlist for especially painful tattoos). The walls are covered with colourful
posters, animal masks and banjos, so there’s plenty to distract you from the
sharp needle coming your way. Both artists are happy to ink you with any design
of your choosing. Chacha specialises in traditional tattoo designs, portraits
and lettering. For colourful or more intricate designs, ask for Nono.
Price Between 1,000-2,000RMB for less than an hour; 2,000RMB
WeChat ID: Chacha. Open 2-8pm daily (by