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It seems to me that the more I discover about tattoo in different parts of the world, the more I realise the similarities involved with being a part of the tattoo industry. Don’t get me wrong, every country and ever artist has their own challenges to overcome, but in the grand scheme of things the general aspect of a tattooist’s work – that is, the motivation, the passion, the work ethic – all of it seems to form a series of similar traits shared by artists across the globe.
Keeping that in mind, I think that all artists need to take the time to understand and share ideas and learn about what everyone else in their profession goes through; what challenges they may face or the techniques they may employ or just something as simple as what they love about the art form and what got them interested in doing it in the first place. Inspiration can always come from a multitude of different sources and at the very least, I think it’s important to keep up to date on the way of life and work for tattooists in various countries. That’s why I found this little profile/interview on Malaysian tattooist Kevin Mitchel De Souza interesting in terms of insight into another culture and how tattoo works there.
‘“My first real exposure to the art form came from my brother-in-law, who in turn got his knowledge from getting his tattoos done in Singapore.
“Back then, there weren’t many studios here and we had to be more resourceful in terms of gaining knowledge. We even built our own machines using parts bought online just to see how they worked.
“Even now, we still have to source our equipment from abroad, and sometimes purchasing them over the Internet is a problem because of Malaysia’s reputation for credit card fraud,” he says.’
As I said earlier, the similarities with being a part of the tattoo industry are in general, shared worldwide. In Asia however, the exception is that tattooing has only recently begun to slowly but surely grow from its deep underground roots. Now, thanks to the mainstream popularity of tattoo in terms of reality TV, things are beginning to change. More Asians are actively seeking out tattooists, which means that more tattoo studios are now being able to open. It’s been a long haul in Asia for artists like De Souza, but things are definitely getting better.
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