In collaboration with Culture Cartel, we put the spotlight on 5 alternative individuals that have taken the road less traveled. We chat with them on their passion and journey, and hear out on what inspires them.

Photos by Dju-lian Chng


Looking at getting your next tattoo?
Then you might want to consider Josephine Chan
Specialising in illustrative and neo-traditional tattoos, Josephine can be found at Tooth & Nail Tattoo.  


In the time spent with her, she gave us some tips for people looking at getting their first tattoos, and opened up on her tattooing journey.



Introduce yourself
Hi! I’m Josephine, tattoo artist at Tooth and Nail Tattoo Studio, I mainly focus on illustrative or neotraditional tattoos and drawings. When I’m not tattooing or drawing I’m usually just wondering around, either exploring on long walks or pondering over random stuff with friends over kopi and long talks.


 What got you started into tattooing?
Long story short, having already developed an interest in tattoos, upon graduation I found a job where my tattoos wouldn’t need to be hidden, and serendipity brought my mentor and his wife into the store, got my apprenticeship from there. To be honest, at that time it wasn’t entirely conceivable to “apply” for an apprenticeship like you would a regular job, so it didn’t really occur to me that it was a viable career till I started getting more tattoos and talked more to the artists in the industry. But I would have to admit I was really really lucky



How has your style evolved from when you first started?
Getting into a new craft or medium at that time, naturally the foundation years would be spent testing out and exploring as much as possible before zeroing in into a style of sorts. If anything, my style gotten clearer for me in terms for what direction I would want to explore and grow into more and more. Balancing my preference for details but moving towards visual legibility for the longevity of the design especially cause tattoos move and grow and age with my clients.


Do you have any memorable client stories to share?
Honestly its so hard to pick out, theres so many types. Some clients get tattoos to commemorate a life changing event those obviously will stick with me. For others, we really just hit it off. It’s close to impossible to pick out just some, theres too many to share and also some are really personal and should be kept between us :) 



Any words of advice for people looking at getting their first tattoo?
Think. It. Through.

Lol. Honestly if you know yourself well, you’ll know if youre the type that would or would not regret certain things, and depending on that you can start to consider your tattoo and so forth. Try not to look at photos of tattoos to get an idea, rather it’s better if maybe you already have an idea of what youre looking to get before doing your research. And when you do pick your tattoo artist, trust them and trust the process.

Sometimes tattoo artists may not explicitly explain to you the rationales behind why they designed it the way they did, other times it just hard to put in words but more often than not theres a good reason and you should trust them!

Of course, if something doesn’t sit right with you speak with your artist about it, but avoid micromanaging if you can, it kills the design process and you might miss out on a better design :)



And lastly, any tips for aspiring tattoo artists out there?
In spite of the cloud of glitz that social media has helped foster, tattooing is a job and a career in the unusual category of the creative and service industry. Means it requires hard work, determination, and a lot of hunger to last through the quieter years. On top of managing clients from all walks of life, coming to you with a piece of themselves. There’s a lot of humility to be learnt and sensitivity to show whilst fostering your own personal boundaries. Work life balance is a tricky thing but if you can learn to respect your future clients, yourself and the history & culture of the industry youre looking to join, it can be very rewarding lifetime experience.



Listen to Josephine's Spotify playlist here:


Little Dark Age - MGMT
Really enjoy the contrasting mood of the song, but chill and yet emotional at the same time.

When I’m Small - Phantogram
Dreamy daze great for slow walks at nights.

Cherry-coloured Funk - Cocteau Twins
Even more dreamy and more hazy, personal favourite for bus rides in the rain.

Electric Love - BØRNS
Feels like a partial time warp


Lost In Yesterday - Tame Impala
Tame Impala is one of the bands that I will probably never ever tire of, but this track is my current favourite of theirs.


Deadcrush - Alt J
Another one of my all time favourite bands, and this is probably one of their more unforgettable song for me. This and Taro (also one of theirs).


Here Comes The Night Time - Arcade Fire
Watched them live in Perth with my girl friend (also first time out of Asia), recalling the moment the sun set and the sky turned dark as they sang “here comes the night time” still send chills down my spine.


Obstacle 1 - Interpol
The first line got me hooked.


Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool - Editors
Came for the music video, stayed for the song.


Eez-eh- Kasabian
"It’s turning my milk sour"


An Honest Mistake - the Bravery
This is one of those songs that will slip out of the atmosphere for a bit then return ever as familiar as before.


One Way Trigger - The Strokes
Oddly upbeat for a such a sad song, gave me the good kind of weird feels, from someone who likes sad songs.