When entering Diaoyu Tattoo Studio, you would be forgiven for thinking you were in one of the French Concession’s many vintage boutique stores. The walls are lined with traditional Japanese masks, a classic Fender lies slumped against an amp and a fixed-gear bicycle is nearly parked in the back. This collection of all things retro-chic belongs to John Wang and provides the backdrop and inspiration for his art.
Where are we?
We are in Diaoyu Tattoo Studio, my own tattoo shop, which is styled on a fusion between Japanese, American retro and Polynesian tribal styles.
How long have you been running this place?
How are tattoos generally regarded in China?
It depends on whom you talk to. Cool-kids who hang out together tend to like tattoos while more traditional people think they’re a little too out there. Luckily, my parents really support my career.
How did you start out tattooing?
I started by doing tattoos for my friends at home. My very first tattoo was a Polynesian design for a friend who paid me in vodka. As I developed my own style I decided to start a business to showcase my work.
Were you into art before you started tattooing?
I used to be a painter, but the pen is just the tool. It’s the idea in my mind that counts.
What kind of people come into your studio?
Because of my distinctive tattoo style only a select group of people come here. I design the tattoo to fit your personality. I won’t just do anything.
Have you ever talked someone out of getting a tattoo?
Of course, if it doesn’t fit their personality or the idea isn’t good I refuse to do it.
Do you know any tattoo artists without tattoos themselves?
I’ve met some but in my opinion that’s breaking the rules. If they don’t carry the sprit of the tattoos I wouldn’t call them an artist.
What the starting prices for a tattoo at your place?
¥600 or ¥700 but the sky’s the limit.
What’s the biggest piece you’ve ever done on someone?
The biggest was a large Japanese back piece. That one cost more than ¥10,000 and took over 30 hours in about six sittings.
What does the future hold for your place?
I would like to raise more awareness of my work but ultimately my job satisfaction comes from seeing customers happy and returning for more.
Shanghai Diaoyu Tattoo Studio
97 Nan Chang Road
Lu Wan District (near to Rui Jin Er Road)
Metro: South Shaanxi Road (Line 1/10)