Beijing Ink

Toward the end of 2008, I got my first tattoo in Beijing. It is a fairly elaborate piece featuring Sun Wukong (you can see a picture of it here). Since then, I’ve felt things were a bit unbalanced, and planned to get a tattoo on my right side.

I thought about having a tattoo of the Indian version of Sun Wukong (Hanuman) done. I also thought about having a large snake tattooed around my right arm, but my wife killed that idea.

The snake was because I was born in the year of the snake, as where my wife’s parents, my mom, my step-father, and, finally, my son Chong Chong.  As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, Chong Chong’s official name is Su Shao Long, with “Shao Long” meaning “Little Dragon”, which is another way to say snake.

We were having part of the discussion in the dining area, where I’ve got a scroll of a character for dragon hanging on the wall. The scroll was given to me by my friend Huibao, who is a third generation seal carver and calligrapher. Anyway, we agreed that I could get the character transferred to my arm.

An important part of the project was that the character look liked like Huibao had drawn it there. That is, that one could see the brush strokes, splotches, and cast-offs visible in the scroll.

So, with scroll in hand, I headed off with my friend Dan to Creation Tattoo.

The first step in the process of getting the character onto my arm was taking a picture of the scroll.

The image then was reduced and tuned on a computer, before being transferred to a stencil.

Tools of the trade. The tubes and the needles were individually packaged.

With the stencil applied, the inking began. (The printout of the reduced image to the right of my arm was used as a more detailed guide.)

And, here’s the finished work.

Some notes:

  • The cost was 25 RMB per minute of work, at a total of 100 minutes, or 2,500 RMB
  • Although she rarely does tattoos anymore, the owner of the studio was the artist behind my Sun Wukong tattoo
  • I got this latest tattoo on my dad’s 75th birthday
  • I though about calling the post “The Boy with the (Character for) Dragon Tattoo”

Tattoo Me Not

So, back in the Wudaokou area again. Before the latest gentrification project, the sidewalk running down the right-hand side of the road as one walked to the Wudaokou Subway station used to be about two car width wide. Vendors would setup there and make one run a proverbial gauntlet on the way to the subway or popular hangouts next to it. And, stationed in that area was this broken down van, the top of which is visible in the bottom center of the photograph. The side panels of it are adorned with pictures of some of the most hideous tattoos I’ve seen. Just awful work. Anyway, I kid you not, they used to do work in the van. I mean, you’d walk by and hear the gun a whirring. bzzzzzzzzzz.

Anyway, they also had this little “customized” sports car replete with advertisements for the joint. When the had the phone number put on the car, someone had left out an ‘8’. I think there were supposed to four and only three were in it. So, well, they kinda added the ‘8’ above the phone number. Now, it might just be me, but if one cannot plan well enough in putting decals on a car, I certainly don’t want them putting something permanent on my skin.

Just for the record, for those who don’t know me or haven’t seen my profile, I’m wearing some pretty significant Chinese ink on my chest.