Four Tattoo Artists On Committing Art Beyond Memory in ZEGNA's Oasi Cashmere - Men's Folio
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Four Tattoo Artists On Committing Art Beyond Memory in ZEGNA’s Oasi Cashmere

  • By Charmaine Tan

AdvertisementJust as how the woodlands of Oasi Zegna encapsulates the past, present and future of ZEGNA, four tattoo artists explore how the essence of memories plays an integral role in the pains, pleasures and purpose of their craft.

Nothing committed to memory is forever. The sliver of a feeling or touch, the echo of a word, gaze or sound, only stays fresh for a fleeting moment. What was once urgent and vivid will eventually fade away into the vast annals of the forgotten, essentially lost to the world until it is — by chance — trigger-pulled back to the present.

Yet, the greatest joy of living stems from making these very memories. Rich, colourful, textured and dynamic experiences that leave us teetering between the two extremities of our emotional spectrums — a sign of life. Whether the intensity of pain or pleasure cements or erases the recollection, the desire for variation will always remain. For those who seek to carry that intensity into their everyday day, searing a visual expression of that onto one’s skin is an age-old solution to consider.

For the artists who devote their lives to this sacred practice, memories are more than a source of conceptual inspiration. Clad in ZEGNA’s Oasi Cashmere collection, four tattoo artists explore their relationship with memory or specific memories from their careers, illuminating how this intangible yet salient aspect of life is the past, present and future: a start, end and process in the connections they make with their craft, clients, and care for the impermanence of humanity.

Maxine, 24, Lotus Gate

The most memorable tattoo that I’ve done on someone else would be on my mom. I’ve tattooed her twice. The first time was when I was an apprentice, which was very nice because my mom has always been very supportive of everything that I’ve done. And the most recent one would be the colour peony I did for her on her 61st birthday.

People get tattoos for different reasons. It’s either something symbolic in their life that has happened, or they really like the tattooist’s work. But I feel like the process of getting a tattoo is also just as important. Your engagement with your artists and the conversations you take part in play a big part in getting the tattoo and contribute to the memory of the tattoo. I feel like it’s quite a big thing that you could do on yourself. You carry it throughout your life.

Dan, 21, Bada Bink Tattoo

My first-ever tattoo was done by my brother and mentor, Feroze, on my thighs. It started as a joke, but now I’m addicted. My favourite tattoo I’ve ever done on someone else also started as a joke. The tattoo I designed for my best friend Hadri was for his leg, but we joked about it going onto his arm instead — which was the eventual outcome. Now I’ve got a sleeve going on with him, so it’s great.

As for why I like to tattoo for clients, I think it’s great that I can help be the communicator when it’s hard for the client to express how they feel all the time; tattoos make sense then. So, having these permanent pieces of art helps them remember a certain time, expression or feeling they have felt once before. I’ll hold on to all the memories of all the clients and people that I’ve met through that doing.

Tristen, 21, Super Duper Tattoos

A current memory that I cherish the most has got to be when I went on aEurope trip last year with my friends. We went to a festival, went around Italy and then to Berlin — where I met a few tattoo artists and visited some tattoo studios. That was cool because it gave me more insight into what life is like outside of this small country, and it really inspired me to build myself up to move away from here to explore more.

Personally, I would not get a tattoo out of a memory or something of significance like that. I don’t believe in the attachment of tattoos to memory. I believe that getting a tattoo already holds that period of time in place on the skin, and the act of getting it is the memory. But that being said, recording or memorialising something is inherently tribal to us as humans, so being able to help my clients immortalise their memories is extremely cool.

Athalia, 35, Stay Sharp Mutha Puaka

I hated my first tattoo. I was young and dumb and had $80 extra, so I decided to go for a flash day to get a stupid mountain (tattoo) on my sternum. Today, it doesn’t make sense anymore. There’s no meaning behind it. So now I’m getting a big dragon on my torso that comes up to my chest to cover it up. It’s going to be very dark and painful, but at least it covers up something that I don’t want to see anymore.

I feel when you first start getting tattoos, you might still want to attach a memory to it. But as you get to know the tattooing world a little better, you learn more about different art styles, and you start to do it for aesthetics and enjoy the tattoo more just because you’re getting it for what you like and the style you gravitate towards. Then the memory comes as the experience rather than something that you need to bring along.

If I could express any memory with my craft, I’d love to tattoo someone’s touch, to let a person carry the touch of someone who has left the world.

Photography Beng
Creative Direction & Styling Izwan Abdullah
Grooming Eric Tan, Leny Fu | Paletteinc. using M.A.C Studio
Hair Karol Soh | Paletteinc.
Photography Assistant Ringo Shing
Styling Assistants Manfred Lu, Vanessa Grace Ng
All Clothing & Shoes ZEGNA

Learn more about ZEGNA’s Oasi Cashmere collection here. Once you’re done with this story, click here to catch up with our October 2023 issue.