Words ‘N Stuff

At the tattoo shop there are two different kinds of writings that add meaning to the field site: the first are the writings in the tattoo books that have interviews and other information about tattoos in the shop; the other one is the writing that is on the wall, the life motto of Mr. Wu that he clearly displays on his store walls in cursive print. If you want to look at the site then click: here.

The following are a short selection of translations from the book and a translation of the motto on the wall.

wu interview


Name: Wu Shuang Quan

Working Location: Beijing, China

Years Working: 12 years

How many tattoos do you have: 9

Artistic Style: Chinese Traditional

website: http://shuangquanwenshen.com/


Casually express your motives for choosing this art form and the reasons it makes you happy.

1999, Wu Shuangquan started as a hairstylist and this was his first time to experience a tattoo. He got a butterfly tattoo on his arm, and since then he has been interested in tattoos. Consequently, he changed his career to become a tattoo artist. He believes that creating a tattoo is like creating life. Every time he finishes a tattoo for a client he feels a sense of pleasure. Because each piece of work came from his art, he established SQ tattoo parlor. 


interview 2


This is another section of the interview that is featured in one of the tattoo books (see below figure 1.3 for more details)

Question: Do you ask your clients the reason for them wanting a tattoo? Will you persuade clients to not get a tattoo if they want a tattoo out of impulse?

Answer: We will ask ordinary clients why they wish to have a certain tattoo. If the clients are under aged we will refuse to tattoo them, also if they want a boyfriend/girlfriend name tattooed, we will ask them to think carefully about this. Also if a client wants a tattoo on the arm or on the face, we will advise them to think carefully because this will limit their job possibilities. 


[figure 1.3, below]
tat book



This is the book in which Mr. Wu is featured as one of the prominent Eastern tattoo artists.








Before analysis on the writings, let’s look at Mr. Wu’s self-proclaimed life motto that is displayed on the wall of his shop.

wall artThe first character is: ci tattoo (art of tattooing)

The second character: wen tattoo

The third character: cheng, to pass on/ carry on

The fourth character: dao, meaning truth/direction/way






Interview in the Tattoo Book

Mr. Wu does not have this book on display, while he did go dig out the book for us after we asked about his particular artwork, he was not quick to bring out this book. It may have been that he just did not think about the book while he was first talking to me on my first day there, or it may have been that he is just not a proud man who wants to show off his prestige in the tattoo world (obviously, if he is featured in a book that is printed in both Chinese and English that features Eastern Artists, then he is at least somewhat known in the tattoo world).

Even his answers in the book are neither long winded nor haughty, they are short and to the point which seems to illustrate that Mr. Wu is a humble and low-key man. He does not ramble on about himself, but talks more about the art than himself.

Specifically, he mentions in his interview that he changed from a hairstylist and completely changed his life and lifestyle after encountering tattoos, and becoming part of the tattoo culture and getting one himself. From his interview, the reader can ascertain that he is a good artist in that he says that advises his clients to consider the long term consequences of the tattoo (don’t get a boyfriend or girlfriend’s name on you, no minors, think about what you want on you, etc. ) It shows that he has integrity to not just take a client’s money but to really want to put something meaningful on the body’s of his clients. He cares more about the artwork than the job or money.

Life Motto

When you enter Mr. Wu’s shop one of the first things that you will notice is the huge characters above the desk. When asked about this Mr. Wu said that it was a sort of life motto. A motto that means: when tattooing, it is important to lead the way truthfully and also teach tattooing good practices. Because of the location and the prominence of this piece, in the room it’s used as a decorative wall art as well. It seems to be a point that Mr. Wu wants all his customers to know as soon as they walk in the door. That his establishment is one that will please the customer because he cares about the art and the truth and full disclosure.

By keeping this in such a well-seen spot, Mr. Wu is making the point that his store is safe and has a friendly environment. It also encourages others to come learn from him. It creates a sense of welcome-ness in his shop to anyone who enters. It is a very important piece in recognizing the difference between Mr. Wu’s tattoo shop and just any other place where someone could go to get a tattoo. It means that it’s not just a place for business and making money, but so much more than that. It is a school and a place to appreciate art.



Ying, Du, and Shan Shan. Oriental Tattoo Art: Contemporary Chinese and Japanese Tattoo Masters. Gingko: Gingko Pres, 2011. Print.