Tattooist takes Vietnamese ink global

September, 03/2022 - 08:03
Tattoos created by artist Trần Nhật Trung, aka Trung Tadashi, have become works of art. They impress with their originality, sophistication and artistic elements through a fusion of traditional Asian art culture and modern tattooing techniques.

By Lương Thu Hương

INK ARTIST: Trần Nhật Trung has pursued artistic tattooing for over 10 years. Photo courtesy of the artist

Tattoos created by artist Trần Nhật Trung, aka Trung Tadashi, have become works of art. They impress with their originality, sophistication and artistic elements through a fusion of traditional Asian art culture and modern tattooing techniques.

Recently, Trung has become the first Vietnamese tattoo artist to have a solo exhibition in Việt Nam sponsored by HCM City Fine Arts Association.

The exhibition introduced 50 photos of Trung’s finest tattoos, showcasing his creativity and passion for pursuing the unique art form over the past 10 years.

The 44-year-old graduated from the HCM City University of Fine Arts and used to work as a sketch artist.

With a keen sense for art from a young age, Trung soon realised that tattooing would be a developing art form in the future after learning about it via TV, newspapers and films.

“Tattooing is not new in Việt Nam and around the world. This is an art form originating from tribes with customs of tattooing in many countries like China, Japan, India or Thailand, and in Việt Nam it appeared as far as the Lý-Trần dynasties [1009-1400],” he said.

He self-studied tattooing and became interested in the ancient art in 2009. Among the many styles other artists follow, he has chosen to specialise in works with Asian spiritual themes like carp, dragon, phoenix, geisha, samurai and roses.

When Trung first embarked on his path, tattoos were rarely seen in the country. There was a shortage of specialised tools and ink, while the techniques and designs were limited. In addition to self-studying, he also learned from the experience of his own customers, who supported him.

He took tattooing seriously by honing his skills in Japan for five years and established his brand, Tadashi Tattoo, after returning to Việt Nam.

RECOGNITION: Trung is the first Vietnamese tattoo artist to have a solo exhibition in Việt Nam sponsored by the HCM City Fine Arts Association. Photo thanhnien.vn

The HCM City-based artist specialises in freehand tattooing, a complex technique in which he directly draws on the customers’ bodies without using a previously prepared sketch. The method requires high artistic skill and a wonderful sense of composition.

After completion, freehand tattoos on biceps, calves, thighs or back muscles often have movement effects according to the movements of the muscles, forming lively and original artworks.

“A good tattooist needs a pair of skilful hands, rich experience, gifted creativity, keenness for study, and a liberal beautiful soul. They need to put their heart into creating a new work, which is also the spirit of Asian traditional tattooing,” Trung said.

Awarded

He soon started to reap domestic and international successes thanks to his natural talent and dedication. Participating in the Vietnam Tattoo Convention 2013, attended by many famed tattooists in Việt Nam and from China, Thailand, the USA, and Germany, he won three international awards – the first prize presented to an Asian artist for a small black and white tattoo, a second prize presented to an Asian artist for a big colour tattoo, and the third prize presented to an Asian artist for a big black and white tattoo.

After receiving such international acclaim, he was invited to be a member of the jury of the Vietnam Tattoo Convention for the next five years.

Trung attended the Ate Australian Tattoo Events in Sydney, Australia, in October 2017, and took the “Best Sleeve” award. One year later, he enriched his list of accolades by winning four significant prizes at the Nordic Ink Festival in Denmark, particularly the highest one, Best Tattoo in Show.

According to him, the winners of such international contests must have experience and professional skills, a thorough knowledge of composition and skilful hand-drawing ability. They must master the freehand drawing technique on the model’s skin and shorten the time to complete the best work in the shortest possible time.

Trung continued to put Vietnamese tattooing on the global map this year by winning four awards at the Houston Tattoo Art Festival, including the Best in Show for his full chest tattoo on the Asian theme: Dragon - Tiger and Zen Master. The sophisticated and creative artworks by the Vietnamese artist reflecting Asian culture and soul easily convinced the jury.

PRIZE WINNER: Trung (rìght) pictured at the Houston Tattoo Art Festival 2022 where he won the top award - Best in Show. Photo courtesy of the artist

“The negative stigma associated with people who have tattoos is usually based on stereotypes like gang affiliation. However, tattoos are only bad when they contain negative meaning. When beautifully and meticulously created, they are beautiful jewellery adorning the body,” Trung said. VNS

E-paper