Thu, May 16, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Tattoo artist seeks to dispel trade’s ‘gang-related’ image

By Chang Jui-chen and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Taiwanese tattoo artist Chris Liang, second left, his girlfriend and two models display Liang’s entries for the International Tattoo Expo Roma in an undated photograph.

Photo courtesy of Chris Liang

Taiwanese tattoo artist Chris Liang (梁凱皓) earlier this month won first place in the black-and-gray category and second place in the color category at the International Tattoo Expo Roma in Italy.

“I hope that my works can overturn the stereotype that tattoos are related to gangs,” the 28-year-old said in an interview after his return home.

His black-and-gray piece is a rendition of the Manjusri Bodhisattva, in which he used a “picture within a picture” technique to portray three different bodhisattvas, Liang said.

The color piece focuses on the mythical creatures zhuque (朱雀) and xuanwu (玄武), and has hazy outlines instead of the clear-cut lines used in modern tattoo techniques, he said.

Liang said he became a tattoo artist by chance.

“One of the designs I created when I was studying visual communication design was praised by a tattoo artist, who asked whether I was willing to learn the trade,” he said.

His parents were initially opposed to the idea, as the profession was “complicated” and often associated with gangs, telling him that they “will never allow you to take this kind of job,” Liang said.

However he gradually changed their minds and they now support his profession whole-heartedly, Liang added.

He mastered the art of tattooing in six months, he said, adding that while he learned it at a traditional store, he has demonstrated his mastery in a non-traditional way.

“I strove to incorporate modern designs and novel compositions in my work, a sort of ‘neo-traditional’ method, to help separate the art of tattooing from its stereotypical connection to gangs,” Liang said.

“Tattooing is my creation of art, one that is given sensuality by the person carrying them,” he added.

With seven years of experience, during which he created more than 1,000 tattoos, and as the owner of a tattoo parlor in Taichung, Liang said he holds himself to high ethical standards.

He said he would never suggest people under the age of 20 to tattoo the names or portraits of their lovers on their body, saying that such acts could “cause a lifetime of bother.”

However, when given cause, he gladly practices his art, such as tattooing a portrait of a deceased dog, a compass on the back of a man floundering in life, or a picture of the sun and moon for couples forced apart due to the man serving a prison sentence, he said.

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