Artists: Augustine Nezumi
GimmeLove Tattoo II
69A Dunlop Street
65 9487 0841
What year did you start tattooing?
This is a tough one. I started tattooing—erm, the real tattooing, I would say, about 2003. I started kinda late, like 25 years old? I am 33 now.
How did you get into tattooing?
I was working as a truck driver before stepping into the industry, but I was not happy with my job—who is?—so I took a chance. I sold all my stuff, like my bike, laptop, cell phone, etc.—whatever I could cash out. I managed to get two grand, and I went to Thailand for a backpacking trip. I got a tattoo there, and I was so broke that the tattoo artist offered to let me stay in his house. In return, I gotta clean up the shop and run some errands for him. I did that for six months before heading back to Singapore and trying to tattoo on my friends!
Where did you apprentice?
My real apprenticeship was in Osaka, Japan, in Desperado Tattoo, where Horitsuna sensei taught me the real Japanese tattooing. It was a tough but really unbelievable experience. Being there really made me have a different opinion of tattooing. He really helped me a lot in my career. Not only did he teach me tattooing, he also taught me to be a better person. So it was a good deal, ha ha ha. At least the days of soldering needles for him finally paid off!
Do you have any special training?
Not really—I never had any arts background prior to tattooing. All the drawing skills were picked up during the process of learning tattooing. I can do a bit of tebori; that’s one of the skills that Horitsuna imparted to me during my stay in Japan. But I don’t do it during my normal working days—it’s too time-consuming. Maybe finishing off a back piece with tebori is a better idea. Otherwise, I prefer machines.
What conventions have you worked at? Have you won any awards?
I have been to the first and second Evian convention in France, Helsinki Ink, and a segment of tattoo shows in Austria called the Wildstyle Tattoo Messe. Oh, how could I forget our own Singapore Tattoo shows too. I never have the chance of finishing before the timeline of the competition. The only one that I managed to finish was Helsinki Ink, where I lost to Horitsuna in the Best of the Day. So too bad, ha ha ha!
How do you describe your style?
I will say it is a neo-Japanese tattooing. I will try to bend the rules of traditional Japanese tattoo a little bit, but still be able to capture the flavors of it.
What inspires you as an artist?
I like to visit religious places, as many of my tattoos are actually memories of the temples and shrines that I drive past every day on my way to work. So if I am feeling clueless about the next tattoo that I am going to do, I will take a day off and relax myself, pray to God.
What other media do you work in?
Pencils, sumi ink, and watercolors.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
This list will go on and on, but at the top of the list are people like Filip Leu—I guess he is everyone’s fave—Horimasa of 56Tattoo in Shibuya, Mick Zurich, Claus Fuhrmann, Sabine Gaffron, etc.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
I do a great deal of preparation sketches/drawing before I start the actual tattoo sitting, so every design is my baby. Clients love to say, “I want something special that no one has.” But face the facts: Most subjects are already heavily tattooed by so many generations of tattoo artists. The best that I can do is to make sure that the designs are totally drained straight from my brain, so it will be 100 percent original.
Is there anyone that you would like to tattoo?
This person gotta be my wife—she’s been bugging me for a big tattoo for a long time. But I am a little bit worried that maybe two years down the road, I’ll look at the tattoo and say, “Damn! I could have done it in a different way.”
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
Well, if it’s a first-timer, please get a smaller one to make sure that you can go through the pain. Don’t opt for a full back, please—just a half sleeve to get a taste of it. For old-timers, please get a bigger piece, ’cuz I can add so much more details and flow to the whole tattoo—it’s so much more fun to do! And don’t complain about the price, because tattoo is the only thing in the world that goes into the coffin with you. If you divide the cost by the number of hours that you are alive, you will know that it’s dirt cheap.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
I would love to do some erotic subjects like a genitals-faced warrior. No, I am not joking. I did this kind of subject before, but always it’s a small one in a discreet area, because they are seen as a kind of joke tattoo in Japan. But if anyone is game enough for a really huge back piece of erotic subjects, please feel free to e-mail me!