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The Skin Trade: Six Tattoo Artists Share Their Stories 4
- Jul 10, 2018 -

The tired story that our parents used to tell us about tattoos has gone the way of the dinosaurs. The idea that kids who hang out in bad circles and get tattoos never do well. Just look at Jon Lim as its antithesis.

“I was an industrial designer and it came to a point where I just knew that this nine-to-five grind isn’t my thing,” Lim shared.


Art and design had always been his escape, ever since he was a kid drawing dinosaurs and creating his own fantasy world. At that point when he left the corporate world, he had been experimenting for some time with tattoos and figured he’d just dive into it. Lim recounted staying in his room for hours on end just tattooing on himself to get the entire process right, learning how the skin absorbs ink. It seems to be a trait for the design-trained tattoo artists who see the process as another medium for art.


That was Lim’s approach to it and even the way he talks about client interaction reminds us of designers. Lim’s own studio Blackwoods Tattoo, has two other artists with him, as a little design-centric trio.

“We take turns to come up with design briefs that we interpret by ourselves and then we compare and see what we can learn from one another,” he shared. When it comes to his tattooing style however, Jon Lim has a distinctive look. He calls it “chaotic blackwork”. As a tattoo genre, it may not be quite as prolific as say, blackwork or oriental, but you need to get behind why Lim loves this style of art, which really comes from his design background.


“When I did industrial design, the part that always attracted me wasn’t the end result but the stages in between – you know, that slightly sketchy, raw feel to a drawing,” he says. Transferring that to a person’s skin, however, is a different deal. One needs to understand how much black is necessary and the proportions that go into his pieces to appreciate them fully. “There’s a lot of contrast to my pieces but that also means that the white space is super important to maintain a balance,” he stated.


It’s easy to see why Lim’s followers and clients are growing by the day. His niche style already sets him apart and in a world where fans have a buffet of artists online to look at, standing out often comes in handy.