Le Wan with the tattoo artist

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By Qistina Hatta

“Everyone gets a tattoo for a reason.”

Tattoo artist Cat Soh gets serious for a moment during the Q&A session at her small studio in the basement of the Excelsior Mall.

It was an otherwise serious moment during the airy filming of Episode 2 of the Singapore Kindness Movement’s latest video series, The Kindness Squad. Titled “The Wan with the Tattoo Artist,” it features Cat with SKM General Secretary Dr. William Wan and local influencer Smiling Afro.

The lightweight web series focuses on people whose passions take them outside the box and how they overcome stereotypes and assumptions others may have about them.

In this episode, Dr. Wan and The Smiling Afro meet Cat to learn more about some of the challenges she faces and to get a feel for what it’s like to be a tattoo artist!

Until she became thoughtful, she had a friendly chat about her life and how she found her inspiration as a youngster.

Cat had studied to be a fashion designer in college, but it didn’t suit her. She wanted to do something more fulfilling for herself.

She wanted to be able to draw something that was meaningful and meaningful to someone.

And one way that spoke to her was bringing their thoughts about their bodies to life to remember forever.

Facing stares and stereotypes

Image source: Qistina Hatta

But the profession comes with its own challenges.

When asked if she’s stereotypical, Cat, who sports multiple tattoos on different parts of her body, admits she faces judgment “every day”. It’s hard to pinpoint, because no one says much to her, but she notices the audience’s sideways gazes.

“Sometimes, that’s why when I go out, I cover my arms so people don’t look at me. I just don’t want unnecessary attention,” she says.

After all, tattoos are often a very personal choice. Still, many people assume that tattoos are an indication of someone involved in shady or even criminal activity.

Although it can be uncomfortable to deal with stares, Cat doesn’t let it get to her too much.

She knows that what she does has meaning for others. It’s just art, she says.

“A person should not be judged on their appearance, but on their heart. »

Cat is proud of every tattoo she’s done and the looks she gets don’t change how much she cares about every person who walks into her shop.

She says, “You stay alone and become who you are.”

Creation of a safe space

Creation of a safe space
Chat with a client, ready to be inked on his right arm. Image source: Qistina Hatta

When a client walks into her studio, the first thing Cat asks is, “Why do you want to get a tattoo?”

Her studio is a private, non-judgmental setting for her clients. They come to get tattooed but often end up confiding in her too.

Sometimes things can get emotional.

All she wants, says Cat, is the best for her clients; so that they are satisfied with the body art and have a safe haven to express themselves.

Safe Space is important as some of his clients would share their reasons for getting tattoos in particular, to commemorate important milestones in their lives – times of great sadness, such as the death of a loved one, or times of great joy. , like winning a prize.

It’s not about the money, she adds, but what she can do for people. She even turned away clients who weren’t sure about their tattoos, because “it’s a commitment.”

But the most important thing for Cat is to be able to meet people from all walks of life. She believes there is a lot to learn from others.

The physical pain of the needle sometimes brings out pent up emotions.

“You have to let him out. Let it go,” says Cat.

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Being a mother herself, the 32-year-old feels responsible for the people who come to her store.

This is best seen in the art she makes for her clients – many of whom are now friends.

“I think you can’t support a lot of people, so when you can, you should,” the artist says.

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