Shop: Tattoo Temple in Hong Kong

Growing up in Hong Kong, Joey Pang always associated tattooing with a criminal lifestyle. As lifelong illustrator, she knew that she wanted to incorporate art into her career, so she dabbled as a makeup artist but ultimately became disappointed with the temporary nature of this “art.”  At age 25, Pang had a revelation after traveling to New Zealand for the first time and catching her first glimpse of Maori tattoos. “In New Zealand, people respect tattoos. So that changed my understanding of tattooing; from the ‘Hong Kong gangster tattoo,’ I started thinking “I can use tattoo as a medium for drawing.”

Now, she is one of the only Calligraphic tattoo specialists in the world. The subtle black and grey gradients and traditional Chinese imagery in her tattoos almost fully resemble brush painting with ink. Instead of thinking of her works as tattoos per se, she considers her work “permanent body art” meant to enhance and transform an individual’s skin into fine art. Instead of reaching into the history of tattooing, Pang has completely departed from the traditional tattoo imagery of Hong Kong, instead borrowing from fine art traditions in an attempt to carve out a new Chinese tattoo history.

And Pang’s three-year waiting list and a reported hourly rate of $1,600 USD ensure that the only skin she touches is that of high-powered executives and celebrities–never the gangsters she abhors.