Without question, Southeast Asia’s most famous tattoo artist who has been leaving behind a legacy of tattoo stylings (and inflicting a little pain along the way) for over 36 years. Even if you haven’t been fortunate enough to get inked by Jimmy, you have most likely have heard about him if you are a tattoo enthusiast—either from someone who has gotten inked by him, or someone who visited his cramped studio on Sukhumvit Soi 5 in Bangkok.
I am not surprised by the number of hits my blog gets every day from people doing a Google search for Jimmy Wong. Nor does the number of people who write to me personally after visiting my blog wanting more information about Jimmy and how to contact him surprise me. After all, if you’re going to be travelling in Thailand and you’re thinking about getting inked, it is definitely worth your while to make a special effort while you are there to get that tattoo from Jimmy.
It’s been a little over three years since I first came across his studio one Sunday morning and noticed him through the plate glass window of his dark studio hunched over his desk—illuminated by a small lamp—working on what appeared to be a tattoo design. Later that night I went back to his studio and met Jimmy for the first time. I was in the mood for a tattoo (which is all the time these days) and Jimmy said he would work up some “Asian design” for me. The next night I was back at his studio and as soon as I saw the design he had drawn, I was in the chair getting my first tattoo from Jimmy
Looking back now, that first tattoo from Jimmy changed my life forever. It was not only the beginning of our friendship, but it also brought me in contact with many people from around the world who also have the same passion for tattoos and who have heard of Jimmy. Aside from someone stopping in to get inked by Jimmy, many times it was a tattoo artist traveling in Thailand who had to stop in and pay Jimmy a courtesy call. Other times, it was just someone who had heard of Jimmy and his work, like the one guy from France who had to stop in and meet the man who had inked Johnny Thunders for the last time.
Then there was Jimmy Wong’s First World Tattoo Arts Festival and Exhibition in February 2006. Again, if I hadn’t stopped in at Jimmy’s shop that March night in 2004, I would have never flown to Bangkok for the weekend to attend the Tattoo Festival, would have never gotten my first Japanese-style tattoo and win a tattoo contest and would have never met Kenny Shangrila who is now my best friend.
And to take it one step further—and keeping with the “theme” of this blog—if I hadn’t met Kenny, I would have never gone to Japan last November and would have never met Horisei and Yuuki.
Yeah, “One Night in Bangkok” changed everything.