Little Red Dots 新加坡的商业中心,有一家文身店

October 7, 2020 2020年10月7日

You might not expect to find a tattoo shop in the middle of Singapore’s central business district, but hidden within a maze of office corridors is Soh Hui Yun’s private tattoo studio. The young artist specializes in making hand-poked tattoos, and for the past three years, she’s been quietly honing her craft.

在新加坡的中心商务区,你很难想象这寸土寸金的地方竟然会有一间文身店。Soh Hui Yun 的个人工作室就藏匿于写字楼迷宫般的走廊中,这里专门提供手工文身。在过去三年里,她一直在默默地磨炼自己的文身手艺。

Prior to tattooing, Yun was already trying her hand at illustration, animation, and sculptural art. Having liked tattoos from a young age, it seemed natural that her artistic expression would cross paths with the craft at some point.

“While taking a gap year in university, I thought a lot about my art, and I decided to pursue my interest in tattoos,” she recalls. “During that period, my father, unfortunately, had a stroke, so I spent a lot of my time by his bedside taking care of him round the clock—I still couldn’t get my mind off of tattoo art and hand-poked tattoos were a way for me to explore the craft without disturbing my father’s rest. With just tattoo needles and ink, it became an easy way for me to explore putting my art onto skin.”

Soh Hui Yun 从小就喜欢文身,并最终选择它作为自己艺术表达的工具。在成为文身师之前,热爱创作的她也曾尝试过创作插图、动画和雕塑艺术。


What started as an alternative medium soon consumed her, and her dedication towards perfecting tattooing led people in the local creative community to take notice of her unique style.

“After I became somewhat comfortable with my tattooing, some of my friends started asking me for tattoos,” she says. “We would rent an AirBnb and just have small informal tattoo sessions among ourselves. Once I felt experienced enough, I tattooed my first clients in Melbourne out of my partner Aaron Grech’s private tattoo studio.”

With his encouragement, she further developed her craft in Melbourne. Her tattoos were a hit compared to Singapore, where her designs hadn’t yet found its place within the tattooing scene. She felt that there was a bigger audience for her work in Melbourne and more people resonated with her tattoos there. Her short stints in Australia gave her the motivation and confidence to stick with her unique style of tattoos, even as it felt disesteemed within the Singaporean tattoo circles at times. “I really enjoyed tattooing in Melbourne,” she says. ”They have a really supportive and diverse tattoo scene and the hand poke tattoo scene has been around for a much longer time so it’s more mature.”


她说:“当我的文身技术熟练之后,我的一些朋友开始请我帮他们文身。我们会租一间民宿,在那里简单地完成文身。积累了一定的经验后,我去了墨尔本,在我的搭档 Aaron Grech 的个人文身工作室里为我第一个真正的客户文身。”


Yun feels that, in Singapore, there is still a misconception around hand-poked tattoos being inferior to machine-made tattoos, and it’s something she is determined to change.

“Sometimes hand-poked tattoos are dismissed because its rise to popularity was somewhat attributed to the DIY vibe associated with it,” she explains. “There is a stigma that it is easy just because of the impression that anyone can pick it up. That’s not true—just because I’m tattooing without a machine doesn’t mean I can’t achieve quality. At the end of the day, my goal is to make the best tattoos possible. I also think quality can be quite subjective at times, certain artistic decisions are deliberate and it all depends on the mindset of the artist—I don’t believe in passing off poor technique as style and I want my work to show the potential of stick-and-poke tattoos.”

在 Soh Hui Yun 看来,新加坡的人们有一种偏见,认为手工文身不如机器的,而她决心有所改变。

“有些人之所以看不起手工文身,大概是因为它最初是靠 DIY 的属性而普及开来的。”她解释说道,“所以人们会有一种偏见,认为手工文身很简单,任何人都可以做。但事实并非如此,不用机器并不代表我的文身质量会更差。说到底,我的目标一直都是做最好的文身。而质量这个事情有时候是很主观的,有些效果可能是出于艺术创意刻意而为的,这完全取决于艺术家创作时的想法;当然,你也不能将差劣的手艺假装是艺术效果,我希望我的作品能呈现出手工文身的魅力。”

Most of her tattooing journey has been largely self-taught. Although unorthodox, she feels that working independently suits her; Yun is someone who enjoys creative freedom and unbridled experimentation is important to her.

“There have been a lot of foundational basics that I learned at tattoo shops, which are important to anyone who wants to start tattooing,” she says. “However, I had to develop and learn many things by myself, and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I don’t believe that everything can be taught through a textbook or a mentor. You have to be resourceful and hands-on in order to find and develop your own style in whatever you pursue. It can be a slow learning process, but the more time you spend with your work, the more attentive you are to the details and the better you understand yourself—this translates into your art.”

Soh Hui Yun 的文身技术主要靠自学。虽然没有接受正统的学习,但她觉得这样独立的工作更适合她;她喜欢自由创作,无所拘束地尝试各种艺术实验,这对她来说很重要。


Viewing her tattoos as an extension of her past artistic pursuits in a different medium, Yun places great importance on her technique, and ultimately wants to be recognized for her designs. She views each of her tattoos as a permanent part of her artistic output. This emphasis on artistry is encapsulated in the free and playful style of her tattoos, in what she describes as a naïve and quirky side of herself she expresses through her work—an embodiment of her childhood.

“Perhaps this goofiness or silliness in my tattoos is a way that I express my inner persona,” she shrugs. “I’m usually a shy and reserved person, so the imagery I draw represents a side of me that isn’t evident to most people. I didn’t really grow up in a very happy environment and what has stuck with me in my childhood was the joy of watching wacky cartoons.”

对于把文身视为创作媒介的延伸的 Soh Hui Yun 来说,虽然自己很重视技术,但她最希望的是设计得到别人的认可。她认为自己的每一个文身都是她的一件永久的艺术作品。这种对艺术性的强调体现在她自由与有趣的文身风格中,她说这些作品折射出自己天真和古怪的一面,也珍藏着她的童年回忆。


Yun’s is constantly seeking ways of connecting her disparate artistic interests, and it’s in part what makes her tattoos so unique. As her client list grows, she’s as keen as ever on nurturing the hand-poked tattoo scene in Singapore.

“While tattoos are my focus now, what’s important to me is that my art and my style develop,” she says. “In everything I do—be it tattooing, sculpting, or animation—I want people to recognize my work. Tattooing will change over time, both in style and technique, but the important thing is to progress and not to lose touch with the core of my creative spirit.”

Soh Hui Yun Yun 不断寻找各种方式,将不同的艺术兴趣糅合起来,这也是她的作品如此独特的原因之一。随着客户越来越多,她将继续努力发展新加坡的手工文身圈子。


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Contributor: Nicholas Leong
Photographer: Jufri Hazhar
Chinese Translation: Olivia Li
Additional Images Courtesy of Soh Hui Yun

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供稿人: Nicholas Leong
摄影师: Jufri Hazhar
英译中: Olivia Li
附加图片由 Soh Hui Yun 提供

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