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Award-winning tattoo artist has passion for ink

Update: July, 29/2018 - 09:00
Deep colour: The tattoo on Lâm Việt wife’s back displayed at the Taiwan Tattoo Convention 2018. — Photo tienphongonline
Viet Nam News

by Tuấn Trần

After a career spanning eight years, tattoo artist Lâm Việt (real name Lâm Văn Việt, aged 29) has won eight national and international tattoo awards, with most coming in the last two years. In February, Việt earned first prizes at the Taiwan tattoo convention 2018.

Telling tales with tattoos

Every artist has their favourite piece of work. For Việt, the piece he treasures most is a tattoo on what he believes is the perfect canvas – his wife’s back.

It was her first tattoo, and she put her complete trust in her husband. Her faith paid off, as it was one of a number of tattoos inked by Việt that won him international prizes.

His wife, Hoàng Huyền, said: “That is the first time I participated with my husband in a competition and also one of our most memorable moments.”

But it was no easy ride. Such delicate details take time to draw, and for Huyền is an exhausting exercise.

“Five days working continuously, about 12 hours a day, right after putting our child to bed,” she said.

“On the last day, I was exhausted, cried and told my husband that I can’t continue. He encouraged me to get over the difficulties.”

Việt first picked up the needle in 2010. Since then, he has lost count of the number of tattoos he’s drawn, but he knows each and everyone has a story behind it.

And for those contemplating getting inked, that’s the advice he gives. Don’t simply follow the trends of the day, but instead pick a design that means something to you.

“There are artists who work with paper, but we create pictures on the body based on the stories of people who love this form of art,” the artist shared.

Việt’s parents, and his wife’s parents, were not fans of body art and the pair spent many years convincing them this was the right path for them to follow.

In fact, Huyền kept her body art concealed from her family, until the award was won. Then both sets of parents were won over by their love of tattoos.

“Through my work, I’m not only trying to prove myself, but also to remove the prejudice in Việt Nam about tattooing,” he said.

Dedicated: Artist Lâm Việt spends three to four hours a day drafting his work on paper. — Photo tienphongonline
Detail: A piece of art created by Lâm Việt. — Photo kinh tế đô thị
Team work: Lâm Việt and his colleagues. — Photo kinh tế đô thị

Beating the stereotype

Việt graduated from Hà Nội’s University of Industrial Fine Art eight years ago and began working as an artist.

He found this challenging but at the time, spotted a gap in the market as there were not that many tattoo parlours around town. One local shop spotted Việt’s talent and encouraged him to pursue this profession.

A year after graduating, the artist and his family moved to Thái Nguyên, but found limited opportunities there, so he moved back to Hà Nội and from then tattoo art has become his passion.

After winning a number of awards at the Saigon Tattoo Convention last year, people started to notice him more and he was able to open his own store on Nguyễn Siêu Street.

But keen to learn, this wasn’t enough, and Việt spends most hours of the day either tattooing customers or working on fresh designs.

“He often stays at the store from 10am until 9pm,” his wife said.

“He then comes home for dinner; plays with the children then draws until 2am the next day. But despite his busy schedule, he still always makes time for his children.”

Although he tends to follow his own style, he is a fan of Shigenori Iwasaki, who follows original Japanese style, and Dimitry Samohin, who has a realistic style.

Every day Việt only tattoos a limited number of customers, because with him, art is a subject that needs a long time. He feels if you put quantity over quality, the work would suffer.

The young artist wants to take part in more competitions in the future because he wants to compete and learn from other international artists, as well as proving the development of Vietnamese body art. VNS

Awards artist Lâm Việt has won:

- First place for "Best big coloured tattoo" and Second place for "Best of the day" in Taiwan Tattoo Convention 2018

- First place for "Asia-China-Thai colour", Second place for "Realistic colour", Second place for "Best of the day", and Second place for "Fantasy-realistic colour" in Sai Gon Tattoo Convention 2017

- First place for "Best big colour tattoo" and First place for "Best big colour back tattoo" in Taiwan Tattoo Convention 2017.

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