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Tattoo Queen, Zhuo Dan Ting

Aug 24, 2018

I’m Zhuo Dan Ting. I’m from the north of China -- Harbin -- and I’m a tattoo artist. I’ve liked drawing since I was born. When I was a baby I would draw on the floor everywhere. My dad and my grandma were always big on drawing, just like me.

I started tattooing in 2001 in Harbin. When I began there were not many professional tattoo shops -- now there are a lot. Right after I learned it was possible, I got my first tattoo. I was about seventeen. When I saw the process it seemed just like drawing an image on paper; it actually seemed pretty easy. So right after I got that first tattoo I started trying. I practiced on two pieces of pigskin but a friend was asking me to tattoo them and was impatient. It was a couple, actually, who loved motorbikes. They got matching tattoos. A tribal eagle, really big on the guy’s back, really small on the woman. I started with no fear. It felt really natural.

I came to Shanghai in 2006 because I was bored of Harbin. It was time to breathe some new air. I opened Shanghai Tattoo a year later. Since a lot of people knew who I was, they started contacting me, asking if I was doing tattoos in Shanghai, so I started tattooing in my apartment. But after I started getting a line I thought, why not open a shop?

Shanghai"

Right now, tattoos are really popular in Shanghai, kind of too popular—they really blew up. But obviously it’s a good thing for us and as more people have tattoos, the more acceptable they become. And that’s really cool. One problem I’ve noticed is that now it’s too easy to learn. A lot of shops are opening up in Shanghai run by people who have only been doing tattoos for a year or a couple of months. You see places popping up and then shutting down.

But a cool thing is now there’s all kinds of styles. My style is more photo-realism. I do a lot in black and white but I’m trying to get more into color. I do about one tattoo a day, to make sure I have good energy and focus. A lot of customers come in with a vague idea and give me a lot of freedom to get creative. We design it together. But with the photo-realism, if they show me a photo, I can just tattoo the photo in one session depending on the size. The waiting list depends on the season: sometimes it’s one month, sometimes three months.

Shanghai"

I also started hosting parties here since Shanghai Tattoo opened in this location. It’s not just a shop -- people can come in hang out and feel comfortable. If I’m not at the shop, I like to go see a show if there’s a good band. I usually go to MAO Livehouse. Also Hitobashira is a really good band. It's my husband’s band. If I’m hanging out a bar it would be Inferno, because that’s the kind of music I’m into. But at the new venue they can’t play live music, so it’s actually hard in Shanghai to see the kind of music I like. I’m not sure if metal is really a Shanghai thing.

I really like food in Shanghai. Spicy food. South Memory used to be my favorite but now I go to Guyi on Fumin and Julu Lu that’s really good. And really clean too. I like to get the fish head and frog legs. Also, Dongbei Ren. It’s comfort food for me.

Shanghai"

Thai Gallery in Jing’an Park-— I think their steamed fish is really good. Everything there is really good. I love all kinds of food. This is part of the reason I like to travel — everywhere — I love Thailand, I love Europe. I travel a lot for tattoo conventions. Last year we went to about six. There are two conventions in Shanghai coming up: one at the end of August, one in September.

I really like to swim in my free time at Mr. and Mrs. Fitness. It’s good to swim and move after hunching over a tattoo all day. When I started, I was working like crazy, morning to night. Sometimes when I would stand up my legs were really sore, but I was younger so I would stretch and feel alright. Now I’m realizing I’m getting more back pain, so I try to stay active out of the shop. I also like to make sculptures and mess around with the guitar.

Shanghai is a really cool dynamic city with a lot of opportunities. But I don’t have a yard here, which I don’t like, and the environment isn’t good enough to have a dog.

I’ll probably end up moving so I can get myself a pit bull.

Shanghai"

VENUES MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE:

  • Shanghai Tattoo (Maoming Lu)

    • Wellbeing
    • Tattoos & Piercings
    • Jing'an
    • Address
      4/F, 1 Maoming Nan Lu, near Yan'an Lu
      茂名南路1号4楼, 近延安路
    • Phone
      136 1181 4666

    Shanghai Tattoo is one of Shanghai's most popular tattoo studios and the HQ of one of China's most well-known tattoo artists, Zhou Dan Ting. Their bilingual service -- and Western-standard facilities and hygiene -- nets them a large clientele within the expat... Read more

  • MAO Livehouse

    • Nightlife
    • Bars
    • Live Music
    • Address
      3/F, 308 Chongqing Nan Lu, near Jianguo Zhong Lu
      3/F, 重庆南路308号, 近建国中路
    • Phone
      6445 0086

    MAO Shanghai Livehouse is a Shanghai's most active large-sized concert venue, hosting local, national, and international acts every weekend and intermittent week nights. Music ranges from pop, to rock, to large-scale electronic events and raves. Shows vary in start... Read more

  • Inferno (United Valley)

    • Nightlife
    • Bars
    • Jing'an
    • Address
      United Valley Jing'An, 462 Changle Lu, near Shaanxi Nan Lu
      长乐路462号, 近陕西南路
    • Phone
      -

    Infamous! Butcher! Angel of death! Monarch to the kingdom of the deeaeeeaad! Inferno, Shanghai's only dedicated metal bar, is in its third incarnation as a pub in United Valley. It's just a pub that plays metal. Two rooms, a bar in one and more lounge seating in the... Read more

  • South Memory (Jinqiao)

    • Dining
    • Sichuan
    • Pudong
    • Address
      3/F, No 7, 3611 Zhangyang Lu, near Jinqiao Lu
      张杨路3611弄金桥国际广场7座3楼, 近金桥路
    • Phone
      400 660 8517

    Read more

  • Guyi (Fumin Lu)

    • Dining
    • Hunan
    • Popular Chinese
    • $
    • $
    • $
    • $
    • $
    • Address
      89 Fumin Lu, near Julu Lu
      富民路89号, 近巨鹿路
    • Phone
      6249 5628

    Guyi is an institution of a Hunan restaurant in Shanghai, among both foreigners and locals, for its upscale environment and excellent fiery food, unaffected by local tastes. It's a step up from almost all other Hunan restaurants in Shanghai, and though quality has... Read more

  • Thai Gallery (Jing'an Park)

    • Dining
    • Thai
    • Jing'an
    • Address
      1649 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Huashan Lu (inside Jing'an Park)
      南京西路1649号, 近华山路 (静安公园内)
    • Phone
      6217 9797

    Read more

  • Mr & Mrs Fitness (Shaanxi Nan Lu)

    • Wellbeing
    • Fitness Centers
    • Jing'an
    • Address
      6/F, 5-7 Shaanxi Nan Lu, near Julu Lu
      陕西南路5-7号城市酒店6楼, 近巨鹿路
    • Phone
      6255-1550

    The first Mr. and Mrs Fitness, opened in May 2013, includes a swimming pool. Read more

[Shanghai Famous]:

Shanghai Famous is a weekly SmartShanghai column focusing on people out there in the city makin' the scene. They're out there around town, shaping Shanghai into what it is, creating the art, culture, and life around us. We asked them what's good in Shanghai. We asked them what's bad in Shanghai. We asked them to tell us more, more, more about their wonderful selves.

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