Artists: Wu Shang
East Gate 23-25 South Road
Wenling City, Zhejiang Province
+86 130 9382 2226
What year did you start tattooing?
How did you get into tattooing?
By chance—a friend of mine wanted to have a tattoo, but he could not find a tattooist. As he knows that I can do paintings, he boldly asked me to do the tattoo on him.
What was your first shop experience like?
Probably because it was my first time setting up a studio, the conditions were rudimentary in every aspect, and my family was not familiar with tattoos. I hadn’t made enough preparations, including promotion; most of the clients were acquaintances after the studio was set up. But one thing I was very sure of then was that I would devote all my life to this art and seek perfection.
Do you have any special training?
I was enrolled in the China Academy of Art in 1998, and I majored in oil painting. I also learned pottery, sculpture, Chinese painting, and Chinese calligraphy during those years.
What conventions have you done recently or are planning to do this year?
I’ve joined so many events, including the Supreme Culture and Art Festival that I planned myself. The festival covers art forms of sculpture, handmade art, humanity, country music, modern rock, food, tattoos, fine arts, calligraphy, and performance art. All these forms of art shown on the same platform gave me rich thoughts and learning experiences.
What drew you to your particular style?
My major is oil painting and western fine arts. But in tattoo art, which has a long history, I see a blank area in traditional Chinese culture and style. The sublime nature, majesty, and elegance of Chinese painting are far beyond the imagination. Just like Chinese poetry, Chinese painting has gone far from its origins of narration of objects and description of shape; more than a thousand years ago it entered the phase of magnificent artistic conception. This phase is a supreme realm that aims to express the authors’ will and feeling. I try to reflect sentiment and realm in my tattooing.
What inspires you as an artist?
Love. Love is the only effective motive and source for humanity’s recognition of things. As a tattoo artist, I love my family, love human beings, and love every tree and bush around me. And what’s more, I love the Chinese culture, where my roots are. Without love, there wouldn’t be an ancient art form like tattooing. It is all for love that keeps me having a pure heart and a free mind. Love for Chinese culture: I love Chinese architecture, pottery, costume, fine arts, etc.; they are all my fertile ground for tattoo creation and my source of inspiration.
What sets you apart from other artists?
Because of my love for Chinese traditional culture, I absorb the essence of Chinese culture, and reflect them in my aesthetic perception with the structure, colors, lines, and dots of my tattoo work. That’s how I set my style apart from the others.
What is the tattoo culture like in China?
The modern Chinese tattoo culture is brand new. It just has dozens of years’ history.
What other mediums do you work in?
I have been doing handmade creations all the time. It’s my hobby; art is the way I draw nourishment from the world.
How have you branched out from tattooing?
I don’t like imitations or copies; I love creation and independence. So I learn from the traditional Chinese culture and bring that into my tattoos.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
I love the combination of Chinese painting and calligraphy in tattooing. I use calligraphy to draw the lines of tattoo works all over the body. But no other tattooist could do my tattoo works so far.
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
Since I am good at traditional art forms, I would give them suggestions from these perspectives on how to express their idea into tattoo works.