Foreign Disciples Flock to Shanghai Tattoo Master.

By Mark Andrews

Sixth Tone. 19/04/2017

SHANGHAI — Daniel Whitford is deep in concentration as he hunches over a sheet of silicone practice skin at Zhen Cang Tattoo. Sporting a black baseball cap, the American apprentice holds his focus as he inks a tattoo he designed himself. Each precise stroke is followed by the dab of a cloth. His teacher and the parlor’s owner, Shao Gang — or Just Shao — nods his approval, giving infrequent guidance in simple English.

“Just Shao is a tattoo monk,” Whitford tells Sixth Tone with a smile. Shao’s shaved head, round face, and calm, serious demeanor could well see him mistaken for a monk if he were to don flowing robes. Instead, his waistcoat and hand-carved pipe betray a life devoted to the aesthetic, not the ascetic — though he approaches his work as a spiritual calling.

Shao is well-regarded both in China and abroad for his distinctive 3-D effect biomechanical style of tattooing. To Whitford, Shao is one of the most successful living artists, enjoying a level of recognition that few artists in any medium achieve during their lifetimes.

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Mark Andrews has written about everything from Japanese houses to heli hikes on New Zealand glaciers, test drives of Chinese cars to bar and restaurant reviews. He currently specialises in travel articles and reviews of Chinese cars plus articles about the Chinese auto industry.

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