Sin City

Sin Suidesake is a young woman kicking it in the male-dominated tattoo industry. Nearing the end of a three-year apprenticeship (who knew there was such a thing!), Hsin has already accumulated a significant portfolio of work. She hails from Kunming, China, and had already completed a year of tattooing and graphic design studies before launching her career at Cain Tattoo:

You must have to have a certain amount of artistic ability to do tattooing?

“It's like fine art but you use different materials; your paintbrush is the tattoo machine. It involves a lot of design and drawing skills are a must, although it's not just about drawing but the technical application onto the skin. With tattooing there's so many technical things to learn - how to use the machine, how to keep your work space hygienic, all sorts of practices and because the needle goes into the skin and the work can't be removed, you have to have an additional level of responsibility for your canvas.”

What's your favourite style of work?

“Because I'm still completing an apprenticeship, I don't think it's the right time to develop a personal style. I practice all sorts of styles in order to improve my skills and once I have that base, I will have the options for developing my own style. Although, right now I'm really enjoying realism, neo-traditional Japanese, and illustrative work.”

Is tattooing still a male dominated industry?

“Definitely. The stereotype of a tattooist is still male, and because it used to be linked to gang culture, people have the impression that you have to be tough to do the job. But more and more, the industry is evolving and becoming regulated so there is equal opportunity and more women are getting into the industry.

I’m pretty fortunate to be working with these boys because they are really respectful of women in the working environment. Chris [Amosa] grew up in a strict Samoan family and so they have that respect, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the old school tattoo shops were different.

What is the history of tattooing in China?

“China is one of the oldest countries where tattoos were discovered, however Japanese irezumi has a lot of impact on modern day Chinese tattooing.

China is now one of the Asian countries really accepting of tattooing, unlike Korea or Japan where you need to be a licensed doctor to be a tattooist.”

Does your ethnic background impact your work?

“It definitely has to in the future, when I choose my tattoo style. You can't express other people's culture, I can only base my art on what I already know and my own experiences. It’s important to remember who you are and where you come from rather than just following trends.”