How Tattoos Embody Stories and Meaning

From his transformation as a disillusioned graphic designer to a passionate tattooist, Sean Wei focuses on leaving a legacy on the pores and skin of those who entrust their bodies to him, crafting items that personify their tales, reminiscences, and feelings.

As you stroll into Sean Wei’s tattoo studio – which can be his dwelling – you instantly get an impression of his character. The condominium, positioned near Yongan Market in New Taipei’s Zhonghe District, is stuffed with all types of {art} – from Wei’s work to calligraphy, work, popular culture memorabilia, and replicas of well-known {art} items.

The ceiling is roofed in white sheets that bulge to resemble clouds, and the room is full of vegetation and different greenery. The fluorescent lights generally present in Taiwanese flats are nowhere to be discovered. As an alternative, Wei’s place is lit with fairy lights and light-weight bulbs that shift colours in a soothing rhythm.

The massive carpet at the entrance of his couch hides a sizeable yoga mat, which Wei uses daily. His black leather-based tattoo chair stands on a Persian rug farther in. The place is calming, very eccentric, and a mirrored image of Wei’s lifestyle, usually comprised of exhausting coaching, work, and meditation.


What he describes as “a lifetime in the past,” the Taipei native owned a commercial firm in Taiwan when he relocated to Shanghai short-term to work on graphic design and business illustration initiatives. His purchasers included Tiger Beer and Coca-Cola, which he did effectively until he misplaced his spark.

“After some time, I felt nearly like a robotic,” he says. “I wished to proceed to do {art}, however, in an approach that conjures up me. So I closed my firm, moved again to Taiwan, and spent ten months coaching myself in tattooing.” The primary tattoo Wei inked was on his body. He’s since tattooed his total left arm and each thigh himself.

Though removed from being essentially the most adopted Taiwanese tattooist (some have just a few hundred thousand followers), Wei’s social media eeffect remains substantial, with around 20,000 followers on Instagram ( He says he’s merely “fortunate” to have managed to construct a social media presence. He approaches advertising as an enjoyable endeavour, a method to share his ardour and create partaking tales. Wei finds it necessary to strike a steadiness between business features and staying true to the {art}.

“Capturing folks’ consideration doesn’t require numerous followers or superficial advertising techniques,” he says. “As an alternative, I take advantage of Instagram to share my story, my {art}, and supply a glimpse into an artist’s lifetime, which lots of people discover intriguing. I imagine that once I deal with my craft and share my work, folks will take discover and recognize it.”

However , by the day’s finish, the variety of followers is irrelevant to Wei. “I can’t tattoo 20,000 folks, anyway,” he says. “I’ve already managed to get a gradual revenue stream, so my focus is on high quality, not amount. I don’t obsess over follower depend or depend on common influencers for worth. I’ve seen gifted tattoo artists with fewer than 1,000 followers who’re extremely revered in their area and booked strong for years prematurely.”


Nonetheless, Wei has leveraged his background in commercial and advertising to seize his persona online by telling the story of a devoted tattoo artist following his faculty of Zen (禪, chan). Zen – a college of Mahayana Buddhism originating in China – strongly emphasizes self-control, meditation follow, and the following perception into the character of the thoughts and issues. It avoids conceit or egotism and highlights the person’s expression of this perception in daily life, notably for the advantage of others.

“Once I grew to become a tattooist, I attempted to let go of my business mindset and mirror by myself inventive fashion,” says Wei. “I wished to advertise Taiwanese tradition, our essence, by my {art}. However, what’s ‘Taiwanese,’ and what’s Taiwan fashion? We have many influences from Japan, the USA, Korea, and China. The place do they finish and we start?” He describes Taiwan as “a cultural remix” and says his fashion is “a bit Japanese, a bit Western, utilizing abstraction to fuse the completely different parts.”

Wei posits that in contrast with Japan or Korea, folks in Taiwan – notably those of the youthful technology – are progressive, and he doesn’t feel judged strolling across the streets of Taipei with his inked neck and arms uncovered. “Folks often praise my tattoos if they touch upon them in any respect.” Nonetheless, he needs that Taiwanese artists would share their work extra confidently.

“Typically, Taiwanese folks might be shy,” he says. “Now we have nice abilities, nice artists right here. However, we don’t share it sufficiently with the world. We should always share the gorgeous issues we create right here with the world and our lives and desires.”

Honouring the canvas

Wei’s tattoo designs typically embody animals, wildlife, smoke, and summary patterns. Their mystical look suits the Zen faculty of exploring the character of the thoughts and the character of issues. He solely tattoos black-and-white {art} and gained’t contact available templates.

Typically, Wei will create a bit and promote it to the fitting buyer. However, more often than not, his tattoos result from a highly collaborative course that entails hours of face-to-face dialogue.

“As a consumer, you invite me to tattoo your body. However you additionally develop into a canvas for my artwork,” he says. “I’ve to get pleasure from and love what I’m creating – in any other case, the job turns into a contract undertaking. I don’t work that approach – it needs to be a collaborative course of a legacy I depart in your pores and skin. Give me your story, thought, reminiscence, or feelings, and I’ll create an efficiency that embodies it.”


Those exceptionally explicit about what they need mustn’t search Wei’s providers. As a critical skill, he expects a level of belief from purchasers. “You inform me what you need, and I’ll offer you what you want,” he says with a smile.

Though his determination to develop into a tattooist was born from ardour, Wei’s option to embrace the artistry of tattooing manifests itself within the meticulous dedication he pours into his job. “While you’re an artist whose canvas is different folks’ our bodies, it’s worthwhile to be sure your thoughts are sharp, and your body is in a supreme situation,” he says. Wei wakes up early most mornings to train, follows a nutritious diet, and has given up alcohol and cigarettes to ensure his fingers are always regular.

Aside from ensuring he can do the absolute best job for his purchasers, Wei’s wholesome way of life fills two extra functions. Firstly, he views his body as his most necessary canvas, and he retains it lean to “honour the {art}” that adorns it. The second issue is to suit his “Zen way of life,” with the final aim of discovering peace of thoughts.

Wei says he needs to die, fortunately, realizing he did every little thing he got down to do and that he lived a great life. His meticulously lively and hardworking way of life is a part of this quest. I ask him if he’s discovered inside peace but. He ponders for a second earlier than he replies:

“Some days, sure, nevertheless, it’s a lifelong journey. All we can do is hold attempting, do our greatest, and be the type to ourselves and others.”

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