Tagged: Vietnam

Young Saigon: Ans Pham

We chat to creative developer Nick Jones about his role at Rice, the Young Saigon film series and tattooing in Vietnam…

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Rice was founded in late 2014 by a group of filmmakers who wanted to promote other young, talented filmmakers and give them the freedom to produce films. Since then, we’ve produced over 100 videos on subjects in and around South East Asia. As creative development I get involved and guide everything to do with the creative process, like concepting, shooting, editing etc.

The above film is part of a series called Young Saigon, which is about young artists working out of Saigon (musicians, dancers and artists), though this one is the only tattoo-related film in the series. The artist in this film 29-year-old Ans Pham, who works at Saigon Ink, which is probably the most well-known tattoo studio in Vietnam.

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A tattoo by Ans

We decided to make the film after a friend of mine had a tattoo done by him. Tattooing is something quite alien to me (I’ve been mulling over my first tattoo for a while) so I really wanted to explore a couple of things. Firstly what makes a tattoo artist tick, and to try and understand what goes on in Ans’ head when he’s working, and secondly, the perception of tattooing in Vietnam. Here tattooing is often seen as a taboo by older generations, but in contrast, tattooing among the younger generation has exploded. So I wanted to ask a working artist what his feelings were about the changing tattoo culture in Vietnam and his place in the middle of this change.

Like what you see? View the rest of the films here.

Tattooed and pale in Vietnam…

I’m Rosie and I’m editorial assistant here at Things & Ink magazine and this year I was  lucky enough to travel to Vietnam. This post details how people reacted to my tattoos – and it wasn’t in the way that I though it would be…

In April 2015 I travelled to Vietnam to visit my friend, Sarah, who’s living in Saigon teaching English. Two more of my friends, Cath and Ben, joined me a few days later, we all lived together at university, so our holiday was a family reunion.

Compared to my friends, I am heavily tattooed, although a couple of my friends have small matching tattoos. I didn’t really know what kind of reaction I would receive towards my tattoos from people in Vietnam, but I based my expectations on what people have said here in the UK. Comments have not always been positive, with lots of dismissive stares.

Having lived in the city of Saigon for a year, Sarah had learned a little about the Vietnamese people and their culture. Many of them bleach their skin to lighten it and cover up as much as possible, we went to the beach and people were in the sea in jeans and hoodies. People driving mopeds would stop further back at traffic lights so that they were in the shade.

People mainly stared at us for our pale skin, I had people touching my white arms, and Cath would get kisses blown to her by women. In their culture, staring isn’t rude, but it was hard to shake off the notion that it is. I’m not sure whether I was stared at more for being tattooed or for being pale.

While at a pool, a group of children walked past staring at my tattoos and shouting nice tattoos. Most of the responses were positive and people who also had tattoos were eager to talk about them. Plus, my friends – who I hadn’t seen for AGES – were eager to see my tattoos, as my collection has grown a lot since I last saw them.

Ladies in the Bến Thành Market, would compliment and comment on my tattoos so that we would stop and buy something from their stall. I talked to a couple of stall owners who were interested in how much my tattoos cost. I estimated how much they cost in US dollars for them. And the women were shocked, each tattoo on my arms cost a lot more than they would make in a month, perhaps a year. Which made me think about the different ways we live our lives and spend our money. I felt pretty guilty, and it made me see my tattoos as obscene… but that hasn’t stop me getting more since I’ve been home.