HK Magazine Archive

Mini Lau Thinks In Man's World of Ink, Gender Doesn't Matter

Just 20 years old, she's one of the few female tattoo artists in Hong Kong. 

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 February, 2016, 10:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 4:58pm

How did you get started as a tattoo artist? I’ve been interested in tattoo art since secondary school. I’ve always had a passion for drawing, and I considered doing a degree in fashion design. But I hate sewing, so I had the idea of becoming a tattoo artist instead. It wasn’t easy at first. I looked up tattoo shops online and went knocking on their doors with my portfolio, asking if they would take me on as a student. They were quite reluctant at first, because I was still in school at that time. After I graduated from secondary school, I worked at a Sasa store as a sales associate for about nine months, where I saved up enough money to support my journey to become a tattoo artist. 

What came next? I met my boyfriend at the place that I learnt tattooing. He opened his first tattoo shop in Causeway Bay, so I helped him out there. At first I just followed patterns that he drew, without knowing what my own style was. As I continued learning, I began to develop my own tattooing style.

What is the learning process like? First, I practiced on pig skin. It is harder to get the pattern right because it is a lot tougher and less malleable than human skin. After I was able to perfect my drawings on pig skin, I moved on to helping my boyfriend tattoo actual people.

“My tattoo style is mostly inspired by the Korean tattoo trend. It’s colorful, petite, and the lines are thin and less bold.”

Do you remember the first tattoo you did for a customer? I think all tattoo artists remember their first tattoo experience. It was at my boyfriend’s shop and I did it for an Indonesian man. It was his first time getting a tattoo and it was a tribal pattern on his arm. My boyfriend did the outline for me and I filled in the colors. I remember my feet were trembling through the entire sitting!

How would you describe your style? And what do you think makes it stand out? I guess you can kind of call it a “new school” style. My tattoo style is mostly inspired by the Korean tattoo trend. It’s colorful, petite, and the lines are thin and less bold. I guess that’s why my tattoos are popular among young women and first time tattoo-ers. 

What do you think of being one of the very few female tattoo artists in Hong Kong? I don’t think gender really matters. What makes my tattoos popular is my designs and the fact that there is a lack of tattoo artists that do patterns catering more for a younger generation, especially girls. The tattoos I do are subtle and less harsh than conventional ones, which is why they stand out.

Do you have any tattoos? What do they mean to you? I have one on my waist, a tattoo of a cherry blossom. It doesn’t really mean anything, it was my first tattoo and I got it when I was 18. I didn’t think much when I got it, I just thought it was a really pretty pattern. To be honest, I kind of regret it. This is why I always ask my customers to think thoroughly before considering getting a tattoo, because it’s a permanent thing. Our shop doesn’t allow walk-in customers. 

Any memorable stories to share? I once had a customer who asked me to tattoo a robot design that was just a random sketch from someone. It was a very simple pattern, but what hit me the most was the reason behind that tattoo. I asked her why she wanted such a simple tattoo, and she replied matter-of-factly, “Because it makes me happy. I laugh whenever I look at it, so I want to find a way to preserve it forever. ” And that is what tattoos are about: They hold meanings for people. They are not only symbols of triad members anymore. They are a form of art and it means a lot to me.