Heng Yue is a Chinese tattoo artist born in Yueyang, Hunan.
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He is the owner of “New Assassin Tattoo Xincike Studio”（岳阳新刺客）.
He has been struggling throughout his life. Since his childhood, Yue spent his enthusiasm on kinds of art, painting, calligraphy, and Zhuan Seal Script (a typical official character in very early Chinese history, AD 1st Century), implying his association with tattoo art in his fate. After a whole diversified career experience, he was deeply intrigued by tattoo art. Since then, he decided to devote himself to Chinese tattoo art. Yue’s style is a mix of innovation and realism. He custom-made every tattoo for each client. That’s why his works are so attractive. Yue thinks of tattoos as unvarying body art and treats every job, every customer with his heart and soul.
What made you want to become a tattooist? What do tattoos mean to you?
When I was young, I had a strong interest in Chinese calligraphy and seal cutting, but I didn’t have any relevant learning and training. I had a lot of careers before I started tattooing.
I started as a tattoo artist to support my family, but as my career began, I gradually found that I liked it more and more, and I began to study it more and more.
What about the first tattoo on your skin?
My first tattoo was a mask of Prajna.
How long have you been a tattoo artist? Can you tell us a bit about your beginning?
I’ve been doing tattoos for 17 years. In the beginning, I came into contact with an informal tattoo shop, but later, after I learn to do tattoos, I get self-taught.
His mantra says “With my artwork, any inch of your tattooed skin would find the value of beauty, and every single time, I throw all myself in!”
Do you remember the ﬁrst person you tattooed? What did you tattoo?
Of course, I made a totem to represent the sun.
Have your techniques changed since you started tattooing? Can you tell us about the kind of tattoos that you enjoy most to work on?
Technology changes almost every year, and of course, it’s an upward state. I prefer the realistic type, which is more creative and has a strong texture.
How much do you think tattoos are a private thing, and how much are they a public thing, to show for others?
I think it’s the individual opinion of each person.
What are the changes that you’ve seen in the last years? Is there still a stigma attached to tattoos?
It’s been a normal development over the last few years, and our attitude towards tattoos is becoming more open and accepting.
Some of the bad opinions about tattoos are now almost rare, and few people have such opinions about tattoos.
Yue heavily communicate with his clients, since a tattoo is for a whole life.
Do you think nowadays there still is a rebellious element to getting tattooed?
I think tattoos have always had an element of rebellion, which is the own characteristic of tattoos.
He likes to present realistic feeling in his work by focusing on details and variation of bone, muscle, and skin.
Do you think social media has changed the tattoo world or introduced particular trends? Do social have contributed to the proliferation of tattoos, making them more mainstream?
For some policy reasons, social media has not really helped the development of tattoos in China, especially in recent years.
The development of the Internet enables due to technology to communicate and learn more quickly, and it also helps tattoo artists to develop and improve their skills more quickly.
He loves to design the work based on client thought, preference, style, characteristics, emotion, and belief. He doesn’t give opinions, he just listens. After, he starts to make a design, blending to the picture in their mind.
Can you share with us any meaningful story behind your work?
My works are designed on-site after communication-based on the ideas of each client. It can be said that each work actually has its underlying meaning. The whole design idea, the creative process, and the story behind it are always very, very long.
Because of some language problems, I cannot explain this part of the content except than Chinese for the moment.
Photo courtesy of Heng Yue