Love Ink: Hong Kong tattoo artist Jayers Ko
Located in the heart of Sham Shui Po is Jayers Ko’s studio Lovinkit Tattoo, which she founded in 2013. The neighbourhood has long attracted young designers and local artists with its concentration of whole-sale fabric, accessories and vintage markets.
Over the last decade, tattoo art has showly attracted people of all ages; Hong Kong Tattoo Con (sponsored by Vans no less) has already been in its third run and attracts nearly 120 artists from all over the world and thousands of visitors each year.
We met up with Jayers at The Continental over lemonade to chat about starting her own business, the love for handmade crafts and working as a creative in the city.
Original photo by lovinkit tattoo
How old were you when you did your first tattoo?
I was 19 when I had my first tattoo. 21 when I first tattoo someone.
How would you describe your style?
Always evolving. At least that’s what I’m aiming for. I like strong texture, movement and contrast. I like colours. I like to keep body contour in my mind when I design something, so the tattoo flatters the person wearing it.
You’ve studied in some very prestigious schools in Hong Kong — Chinese University of Hong Kong and Diocesan Girls’ School — did you see yourself going into the corporate world when you were growing up? Was it difficult to decide to pursue a career in art?
I always thought I would be a full time athlete. I used to play badminton representing Hong Kong as a teen. Unfortunately that didn’t work out. Out of pure luck tattooing came into my life and saved me. For that I’m very grateful. It was the hard trying to stay focus when people around you discourage you all the time, that’s difficult. But when you are passionate about something, all you need to do is to stay humble and try to get better every day.
As an artist in Hong Kong, what’s been the greatest challenge?
To be honest sometimes I don’t know if I want to or should be called an artist. But I’d say the lack of space is an obstacle for art to grow in Hong Kong. People here need to make use of every possible inch for practical matter, it’s not easy to plant the idea that we need art to a HK-er .
You’ve worked as guest artists in studios around the world, what are some of your favourite places?
I’ve worked in North America, Europe and a little bit in Thailand. It’s very difficult to pick a favourite, every place has its charm. To me it’s always the people that inspire me the most.
Where would you like to go next?
Mars, another galaxy maybe.
Have you ever declined a client?
I’ve declined some clients throughout the years. Sometimes it’s timing or scheduling, sometimes our vision and expectation aren’t in sync, other times I honestly think someone else in the industry is more suitable for the job so I hook them up.
You are also an entrepreneur and started your own studio, what’s the best and worst thing about having your own business?
Well, you don’t have a boss, but you are basically working 24/7. The artistic and spiritual side is constantly fighting with the logical and business side of me. You need to learn how to balance, to make a living yet still be loyal to what you stand for.
Original photo by lovinkit tattoo
What are some of your favourite local brands?
There are so many awesome things going on in Hong Kong if you know where to look. Anonymous Made is one, the owner does leather work and hand make awesome knifes and tools. Super grounded person, always trying to get better at what he does. The guy doesn’t talk much about his work. He told me once he has his brand called Anonymous Made because he wants people to pay attention to his work, not his name. It’s not easy out here with all the glamour people are so used to. A lot of respect there.
Original photo by Anoymous Made