Saturday, January 23, 2010

Art, Artistry, Artisan-Johnny Two Thumbs

Ask most people who's the best tattoo artist in Singapore, someone would inevitably mention Johnny Two Thumbs who's real name was Indra Bahadur , a Nepalese who had learnt the art of tattoo in India. He came to Singapore in the 50's and passed away in the 80's leaving his tattoo business to his second son, Richard. Johnny Two Thumbs got his nickname because he had 2 right thumbs ! A tattoo artist with 2 right thumbs, how cool is that?

I am trying to fit a tattoo post in my miniature blog because I have told Kiva that if she showed me hers, I would show her mine. In contrast to her freshly inked tattoo , so bold and beautiful, mine looks puny, old and rather unimaginative .

I did this when I was in my 20s, a fresh graduate, just starting a career and feeling rather adult. I wanted to do something to mark the beginning of an "exciting journey" , a new phase in my life, and after a night of partying, me and 2 girlfriends went to the famous Johnny Two Thumbs.

I was crazy about sun-faces then and was wearing a pendant like the one in the picture. So I told Richard from J2T to use it for my tattoo. The 1st piece of "art" I bought where my body is my canvas. My 1st indelible miniature art. It cost me S$50.00 and a hell load of pain because of where I decided to place my tattoo. (By the way, many had grabbed from my foot what they thought they have dropped onto the floor only to find out that it was my body art! ) It was painful because it was close to the bone and that's the thinnest skin. I was glad when the 10 minutes was over and that I had decided against colours. Richard told me later that there were some artists who would refuse to do foot because of the pain!

My tattoo look so dated now. I realised for the 1st time when I took the pictures that it is also blurring. Despite all that, I love my tat. Absolutely no regrets! For me, my little sun face speaks of an era and a time when life was an exciting new adventure, And I was immortal, And that I could do anything. I don't know why I never wanted a 2nd one because tattoos are addictive. Maybe it's because I don't feel like my "adventure" has ended. I may no longer feel immortal but thanks to my new found interest in miniature making, I sure believe I can still do anything I put my mind to.


  1. Oh, it is lovely. I have a sun too. Tattooed on my tummy. When I had my daughter, it got huge and then the sun's smile got a bit tired but I do love it still.

    I love the story about Johnny two thumbs. How amazing can life be?

  2. Never had a tattoo.I suppose it's because it's unerasable and I have nothing fixed in my life. A part from family,and I cannot have their portrait on my back or tummy.I feel that my life is constantely going on and revolving and changing. What I used to love is not what I love now and I give different values to so many things. No, a tattoo is not for me. Hugs Rosanna
    PS everything ready?

  3. Tattoos are not for me either, but I love yours, so nice to always have a sunny day! The only slightly "wild" thing I have done to myself is to dye my dark hair bright copper brown. I guess I was born without any wild genes :-)

  4. Wow, Hanna, you have a sun face too? About Johnny or Indra, did you read that he was ashamed of his 2 thumbs and therefore used his left hand more?

    Not everyone's cup of tea, Rosanna. My mum and dad just shook their heads when I went home with the tat. Over here, and to this day, tattoos are still associated with the "bad people" lol! My mum told me " I hope you will not regret this because it is not pretty when you want to get rid of it". That's why I kept mine small in a place that is easy to hide :).

    Helene, will you believe I think dying my hair blonde even more wild than having a tattoo! I think blonde on a Chinese face just spells WRONG! And I think I first dyed my hair any colour only after I was in my 30s! 10 years after my 1st try, I had tiny blonde streaks! I definitely do think therefore that you have some wild streaks..very thin ones but they are there! lol

  5. I like it, Susan!! It's sweet and dainty, and I also like the spot where it's placed!! GREAT story about Johny Two Thumbs, as well :-D!! I have a somewhat faded one on my outer right ankle- it's the Chinese symbol for Year of the Snake. I might need to get it touched up, because I got it done a long time ago. It's funny, although mama wasn't thrilled with the new one (she thought it was too "bold"), she kind of softened when she heard about my idea for the memorial one ;-).

    I look at it as just another form of creative expression. I love playing with my makeup, too :-D!! Piercings are one thing I never much got into, though. I did have my nose and my bellybutton pierced when I was much younger but I took them out.

  6. Year of the snake?? I was born in the year of the snake, woman!

    Kiva, for me, tats are work of art as well and yes, the special ones are the ones to remember someone by. I have friends who's whole body is inked. I just met one of them for lunch this week and he spotted a new one, ON his FOREhead! a "t" but he told me it's a fake cos his new DJ gig (he's also a writer, musician -folk protest) at a country club requires a more conservative dress-code..LOL!

    And yes, piercing, what's with the close relationship between tats and piecing?? My farthest with that are my ears- 3 each side, now 2 on left cos one of them's closed! Anywhere else means nightmare at the airport metal detectors!

    That's probably as far as I go with tats. But I tell you, if I ever re-ink, I will love an anklet done joining the sun face as a charm. Maybe when I turn 50! Don't know if I can bear the pain!

  7. Me ha encantado la historia!!!!!!!!!y tu tatuaje es muy bonito, felicidades.besitos ascension