KOTA KINABALU: Contrary to popular belief, tattooing is a trade that can be passed down from one generation to the next.
At least, that is the case for Nico Broghammer, who credits his father as his biggest influence and inspiration in his career.
Nico, who hails from Germany, joined 62 other tattoo artists from all around the world at the first ever Kinabalu Tattoo Convention, which began yesterday at the 1Borneo Exhibition Hall and will run through Sunday, December 13.
Although Nico only formally began tattooing at the age of 19, he has always been encircling the edges of the tattoo scene, owing to the fact that both his parents are tattoo artists.
“I grew up in the scene, in the tattoo business, so I think the most part is from my parents,” he said.
“It’s definitely the way that I will be.”
Aside from his father, who is his “hero” in the industry, Nico also draws inspiration from tattoo artists such as Filip Leu and James Tex.
Despite his youthfulness, the 22-year-old has participated in tattoo conventions in Canada and Hong Kong prior to joining tattoo enthusiasts in the ‘Land Below the Wind’.
Another tattoo artist from Thailand began sharing the tricks of the trade with his son about four to five years ago.
Jimmy Wong, who has been in the scene for a whopping 44 years, now takes his 24-year-old son with him to each convention he partakes in.
Beginning in 1971, Jimmy started off tattooing American soldiers during the war in Vietnam, which explains his earlier American-infused style.
Nowadays, Jimmy leans more towards traditional Thai designs, which he said were growing ever more popular in the country.
“In the olden days, there were not many traditional styles as they were only popular amongst the monks,” he explained.
“Today, it’s a more public phenomenon; everybody is doing the traditional style tattoo.”
For local Pip Lubasi, it is the passion for tattooing that keeps his love for the art alive.
As one of the pioneering tattoo artists in Kota Kinabalu, Pip has broadened his horizons through exhibitions and conventions the world over, in which he has been a party to.
After establishing his business in 2008, Pip has since reached the shores of Italy, the Netherlands, Taiwan and China.
His independently-owned studio, Jesselton Tattoo & Gallery, serves as his medium through which he exercises his designs, which are mainly influenced by the black and grey style and oriental flair.
Also partaking in the three-day convention is acclaimed Malaysian tattooist, Kinki Ryusaki.
With just shy of half a million Instagram followers, Kinki is well-known for her elaborate, colourful designs, which she painstakingly perfected over the course of eight to nine years.
Kinki’s interest in tattooing was piqued when she saw a friend’s tattoo while working at a salon before beginning her career in ink.
Since then, she has taken the Malaysian tattoo scene by storm and now has her own studio in Solaris Dutamas, Kuala Lumpur.
Due to her ever-increasing popularity, Kinki’s tattoo services are already fully booked for the whole weekend.
The Kinabalu Tattoo Convention is mainly organised by the Sabah Tattoo Association, which is a newly established body.
Aside from non-stop tattooing, the convention offers several other forms of entertainment such as a tribal fusion belly dance and a moustache and beard contest.
There are also tattooing contests, in which contenders will battle it out in categories like the best of black and grey, the best of colour, the best of realistic and the best of oriental.
Admission costs RM20 per day or RM50 for all three days, while a 50% discount is available for those between the ages of 13 and 17 with free admission for children under 12.
To avoid lines, tickets may be purchased directly from persons in charge at 012-5148911 (Seyi), 019-8990033 (Shiong) or 017-8682689 (Kiddy).