Issue 113 | Apr-Jun 2018

Enter The Dragon

Ms Wong Pei Hsin (Arts and Social Sciences '15)

Tattoo artist Ms Wong Pei Hsin (Arts and Social Sciences '15) aka Pei The Dragon on the joys of creating art on skin despite the hard work and at times, disapproval.

It’s hard to tell that Ms Wong Pei Hsin, a full-time tattoo artist, was — for a long time — never really good at drawing. After all, a scroll through her social media account would showcase a collection of anime artworks, detailed primarily with black ink and watercolours. “I only picked up drawing in Year 4 of University to cope through a difficult phase,” the Psychology major lets in.

That first step ignited a passion, which the now 27 year-old has since worked on. A growing request to have her artworks as tattoos eventually led to her current career path. Known professionally as Pei The Dragon, she is now an apprentice at local tattoo boutique Vagabond Ink Studios.

Life as a tattoo artist is a tough draw — in more ways than one. “Being an apprentice can be one of the toughest jobs out there, especially if you are someone who values stability and a cushy income,” Ms Wong explains to The AlumNUS. While she acknowledges that the stigma attached to having tattoos, especially among the older generation, still lingers, she feels that more people are becoming accepting of body art. “Growing up in a traditional family, I was brought up to think that anyone who inks their skin is a criminal. But over time, I started to see that this isn’t the case, and some of the nicest people I’ve met are covered in tattoos,” says Ms Wong, who has several tattoos herself, some of which have been “collected” from her favourite artists from around the world when she travels.

Having satisfied customers and excited clients also spurs Ms Wong to push forward. “I’ve met many interesting people from all walks of life, which makes the experience enjoyable and meaningful,” she says. Ms Wong also does commissioned artworks such as murals, and recently collaborated with local DJ group “eatmepoptart” to design T-shirts sold at their events.

“At NUS, we’re urged to be unafraid to speak out. This has really helped me in terms of meeting new people and potential clients. Picking up the skills to network is something I’ve learnt in NUS, which has helped me progress as an artist.”
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