Art in the Flesh
Naked Skin Tattoo’s Rickie shares with us her inspirations, her journey as a tattoo artist, as well as her future plans
Words by Chong Kok F'ng | Photos by Endi Haikal Sham & Hong Jie Ying
From drawing in sketchbooks as a 5-year-old, to tattooing people as a 21-year-old, local tattoo artist Rickie Sonjia Marcus has loved creating art, regardless of its canvas, for as long as she can remember.
With the faint humming of a tattoo machine at Naked Skin Tattoo in the background, Rickie recalls how, as a child, her mum would get the sketchbook which comes free with every purchase of a probiotic drink from the delivery lady. She would spend hours drawing on these sketchbooks.
"That's how I started drawing. I really loved it, so I've been continuing to draw ever since," she says.
When Rickie was young, she dreamt of becoming a fashion designer or a doctor. But her fear of blood prevented her from pursuing her dreams of becoming the latter.
"But now I'm a tattoo artist, which involves pricking people with needles. But I don't see blood that often and it's different from being a doctor," she mentions with a laugh.
She was in secondary school when the thought of becoming a tattoo artist came to her.
When asked where her interest in tattooing stemmed from, Rickie says: "I just really like drawing and I love the commitment that tattoos have because you're putting a permanent piece of art on yourself and I think that that's stretching art a step further."
Although Rickie's family were quite supportive of her dreams of becoming a tattoo artist, she recognises that the sobering reality is that the older generations still have a notion that tattoos are a bad thing.
Rickie remembers how every time she sees her grandmother, her grandmother would nag at her for getting so many tattoos even though she is by far the most filial grandchild, compared to her younger brother. Other than that, her family has been nothing but full of support for Rickie, after she fulfilled the requirement set by her parents, which is to finish her diploma.
Rickie joined Naked Skin Tattoo last year in February, so she has had over a year's worth of tattooing know-how. There's a lot to learn with regards to tattooing.
"Just because you're good at drawing doesn't mean you will be good at tattooing," she says.
Over the past year, Rickie has learnt about the different styles of tattoos, what makes a good tattoo design, and so much more. She's just been more exposed to art as a whole.
Rickie draws her inspiration from everywhere around her, like her daily life, or even in her dreams. She mentions that sometimes she'll wake up and have an idea that she sees in her head, after which she'll draw it out.
For the time being, Rickie wants to work with her art on different platforms like on different merchandises, and she's actually in the process of creating a brand to sell these merchandises like prints, stickers and keychains.
After working on perfecting her craft, Rickie hopes to be able to open her own tattoo studio in the future, which she says is her ultimate goal.