Entering its fifth year of operation in 2017, Hong Kong’s International Tattoo Convention attracted record crowds at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, signaling the shifting attitudes in the city and Greater China surrounding the act of getting inked.
Founded and organized by tattoo artist Gabe Shum in 2013, the convention saw 10,000 people, including families, visiting on its first day this year to watch as skin was inked by over 300 artists, who flew in from as far afield as Canada, Spain and Switzerland. Having become Asia’s largest convention of its kind, it was easy to spot some trends within the industry that have arisen in the past few years – namely, the increasing numbers of female artists and young women getting tattooed, as well as more people in their 50s and above getting their first tattoo. Tattoos are also getting larger, as are the prices people are willing to pay for them – the most in-demand tattoo artists today can make hundreds of thousands of dollars a month.
All of this points to a new conception of tattoos in Hong Kong, where a stigma traditionally rooted in the art form as a symbol of triad involvement has slowly been pushed back against as people of all stripes and backgrounds begin to see it as a method of self-expression rather than criminal intent. Safe to say that tattoo culture will only continue to grow in Hong Kong and beyond as the millennial generation further disseminate values of individualism and creativity.
Take a look at scenes from this year’s International Tattoo Convention below.
Photo Credit: Ben Andujar (@benandujar)