Artists: Elvin Yong
What year did you start tattooing?
How did you get into tattooing?
I graduated back then as a graphic designer and I suppose during that point in time, I was exploring various mediums and art forms. Also, I guess I was quite reluctant to go into the advertising scene, which was kind of like the next expected progression for me as a designer. However, I never really saw myself as a designer, as I was more into fine arts and illustration. To this day I still kick myself for not enrolling myself in fine arts instead. I started exploring tattooing as a medium purely out of experiment. I came across this tattoo magazine—can’t remember which magazine it was now—and I was immediately intrigued by tattoos as an art form.
What is the tattoo scene like in Singapore?
It is definitely a lot more open now compared to when I first started out. Back then tattooing was still considered rather taboo and often associated with Asian gangs and delinquents. However, with the awareness of tattoo art via popular culture and social media these days, you see more and more people perceiving tattoos as a form of art and individual expression. You will be surprised, too, by the caliber of tattoo artists we have here in Singapore.
I’m so proud of them because most people do not expect Singapore to have so many good tattoo artists.
What drew you to work mainly in black-and-gray?
There is actually a funny story behind this. When I first started out, there wasn’t a lot of good quality color ink made available to me back then. I wasn’t able to achieve good color payout, so it was simply easier to work with black- and-gray. However, if you notice my works in the recent year, you will see a lot more color in my designs. There are just so many varieties and good quality colored inks available in the market these days.
What inspires you as an artist?
Music is definitely a key influence for sure. Growing up and listening to rock music, I was always very drawn to the artwork on the album covers. I guess I always associated music and art from there. I also have this habit of perusing pictures, drawings, and illustrations from everywhere.
What other mediums do you work in?
Oil, pastel, charcoal, to name a few. I use pencils and markers mostly. I also work with digital painting. I recently started experimenting with pyrography [wood burning].
How have you branched out from tattooing?
I do commission paintings and also T-shirt illustration for Sullen Clothing.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
Carlos Torres, Bob Tyrrell, Jeff Gogue.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
I am always drawn to big tattoo pieces, as it gives me a chance to really work on the composition and details. A full bodysuit would be the most ideal!
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
Always do your research, and come prepared with clear ideas of what you want in your tattoo design. Once you have identified the style you want, make sure you do research on the right tattoo artist who can deliver what you want and is within your budget. Last but not least, remember that cheap tattoos ain’t good, and good tattoos ain’t cheap.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
Yes, of course! For traditional style, I’ve always wanted to do a Chinese monkey god on a full back. As for realism, I want to do a full back silverback gorilla piece with just the gorilla face on the entire back. That would be really awesome! However, I am still waiting for that particular person to appear.