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Devotion to Drawing: Interview with Tattoo Artist Fan Wu

Devotion to Drawing: Interview with Tattoo Artist Fan Wu

Tattoo Artists3 min Read

In this interview with tattoo artist Fan Wu, we talk about the power of New York City and custom tattoos.

From anime icons to gorgeous illustrations of florals and galaxies, Fan Wu's adoration for drawing comes through each and every piece she creates. Based in New York at Gristle Tattoo, Fan Wu took some time to tell us about vegan tattoos, why NYC is a great place to be, and why memorial pet tattoos are so special.

Can you tell us a bit about your background?

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I originally come from Shanghai, China. I came to USA in 2014 for college. I was at Temple University for 3 years in Philadelphia; my major was printmaking. After graduating, I moved to NYC alone. I’ve been in NYC for almost 3 years now.

What was your experience like getting into tattooing? Why were you drawn to it?

After I stayed in the USA, I figured that lots of people have tattoos and they are happy to show them. I never had a tattoo before, and I was very curious about getting a tattoo, so I got my first tattoo in Philly. Since I really love hand drawing when I was a kid, and my major in college was also printmaking, which requires a lot of hand-made processes, I’m very interested in how to make tattoos, since it's just like drawing on the skin. So, then I decided to learn tattooing.

I'd love it if you could talk about your style...what artists/imagery/films, etc. inspire you? What projects do you like to do most?

I do mostly Blackwork and custom work. It’s always interesting for me to learn what people want to get and help them to design what they want, since the projects are all unique. I really like natural elements, especially the galaxy, animals, and florals, I also really like Japanese anime, which always reminds me of my childhood. I’m also really into delicate designs, so I do very fine-line work, I’ll also add some geometric designs into the custom designs. I think the project I like to do most is animal portraits. People usually choose to get a tattoo to remind them of their favorite pet. It’s always an honor for me to do meaningful pieces for people.

New York can be a really demanding place, but it's also a perfect spot for artists to be involved in such a great community. What do you love about New York most and why did you choose to be there over anywhere else?

I chose to move to NYC because NYC is definitely a big city in the whole wide world. Here has lots of different artists and artworks from other countries, I can learn lots of diverse style and enjoy every single piece or artwork. I can always find many galleries and shows here, and NYC has a strong connection to every other country. The people in NYC also come from many different countries in the world so I can learn more about other countries and art from different people.

What is it like working at Gristle Tattoo? What makes that studio special?

Gristle Tattoo is an awesome studio in NYC! I feel free while I’m working at Gristle Tattoo. The shop is well organized, we attend lots of conventions, interesting events, and interview opportunities. It's a vegan shop, and everything we use is all vegan: the creams, ointments, razors, soaps, inks, and the stencil paper. It’s safer for people’s skin and health. Gristle also actively supports and fundraises for various animal related causes. In addition, Gristle is a gallery and we accept different artwork from different artists in all different fields, so people can also see various artworks, not only tattoo works, but also paintings and shows in the studio. The tattoo artists at Gristle all have their own style, so people can choose the artist or the style they like and then make an appointment.

Beyond tattooing what do you love? What do you wish you had more time for? Any projects you'd like to work on this year?

Beyond tattooing, I love hand drawing. I know it sounds like it's still connected to tattooing, but drawing is my favorite thing in my life, so I cannot stop it. If I have more time, I wish I could still do the printmaking projects; it's so fun and you can try almost every technique, like etching, screen printing, mono print, lithograph, woodcut, and stone print. It reminds me of my college life. I love etching most, so hopefully I can do some work related to etching this year.


Justine Morrow
Written byJustine Morrow

Social Producer, Journalist, Editor, and Curator for Tattoodo I am here to support you 🌻 IG: @lathe.of.heaven

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