Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Disgruntled Asian Tattoo Artist Inks His Revenge


Symbols on the back of a Pitt Student inked by Sakai (inset) were originally meant to say, Pitt junior Brandon Smith wanted a tattoo that proclaimed his manliness, so he decided to get the Chinese characters for "strength" and "honor" on his chest. After 20 minutes under the needle of local tattoo artist Andy Sakai, he emerged with the symbol for "small penis" embedded in his flesh.

"I had it for months before I knew what it really meant," Smith said.

"Then I went jogging through the Carnegie Mellon campus and a group of Asian kids started laughing and calling me 'Shorty.' That's when I knew something was up."

Sakai, an award-winning tattoo artist, was tired of seeing sacred Japanese words, symbols of his heritage, inked on random white people. So he used their blissful ignorance to make an everlasting statement. Any time a customer came to Sakai's home studio wanting Japanese tattooed on them, he modified it into a profane word or phrase.

"All these preppy sorority girls and suburban rich boys think they're so cool 'cause they have a tattoo with Japanese characters. But it doesn't mean shit to them!" Sakai said. "The dumbasses don't even realize that I've written 'slut' or 'pervert' on their skin!"

In the last month, seven people unknowingly received explicit tattoos from the disgruntled artist. Kerri Baker, a Carlow College freshman, paid $50 to have the symbols for "beautiful goddess" etched above her belly button, but when she went into Szechuan Express Asian Noodle Shop sporting a bare midriff, the giggling employees explained to her that the tattoo really said, "Insert General Tso's Chicken Here!"

"I don't even like General Tso's!" Baker sobbed. "I'm a vegetarian!"

Sakai doesn't feel guilty about using hapless college students as canvases for his graffiti.

"I think I'm helping my fellow man by labeling all the stupid people in the world," he explained. "It's not a crime, it's a public service."

44 comments:

Anonymous said...

i sooo agree with this guy!! im asian and i love horimono (japanese-style tattoos, if u prefer to call them). the tattoo NEED to have meaning to the person or else its just rubbish...

but really, its kinda rude. coz these guys paid him to have it done, he could've just said no...

my first tattoo i had it done with my mom, it symbolizes our mother-child relationship on our skin (as we are of the same flesh, come to think of it) we even got the same design...that for me is special.

sad some do it just to show off!! me and mum had ours hidden...coz we prefer not to have random men ogle at us and disrespect its purpose..besides, my ancestors did it..so it's kinda normal for us, not weird, not satanic, not associated with gangs or goths or bikers (they have their own thing going on) or whatever crap western society makes of it.

Anonymous said...

I went in to get a tattoo of "peace" and "war" tattooed on my shoulder. It was meant to represent the "duality of man," I suppose.

Turns out it really says, "chime licker."

Anonymous said...

This artist is so full of himself that he really shouldn't be in business. If he feels the tattoo he's been paid to create doesn't meet his standards for whatever reason, just say no. But to create a permanent joke on your clients skin is rude and I hope he gets sued for misrepresenting his services.

Filmmaker55 said...

'bout time someone did that

Xing Ping said...

Good. Stupid Americans deserve this. If you do not know what symbol means, do not get put on body.

Ha ha.

Anonymous said...

you cant refuse services because you will get sued for it.

not giving a traditional asian tattoo to a person who is NOT asian is seen as racist in their eyes.

Anonymous said...

This is just wrong by the artist. First the people are paying for the service and should get what they paid for. Why not refuse to do it in the first place. A tattoo is more or less permanent and etching an unsanctioned derogatory statement on someone's skin is wrong.

Cultures have always melded and influenced each other. You don't see westerners complaining when they see asians with suits and ties. We don't ask them to go back to their Kabuki or some other traditional asian garb. This is so riddled with irony. And chances are, the artist is probably wearing some sort of designer jeans.

Anonymous said...

Another stupid tattoo artist that thinks hes the shit. Shut up and go back to your drawings you fucking tool.

If you didn't want to be a slave of the machine, you shouldn't have become a tattoo artist in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Well I hate it when I have to tattoo an asian person who wants to get a tribal tattoo. YOU ARE NOT AFRICAN. Or wannabe asian wangstas that get crips and bloods tattoos.

This is the same thing. If this punk did this to me I would rip of his head and shit down his neck.

Anonymous said...

That's awesome. People need to stop getting stuff in languages they don't understand...no it's not cool. Yes, you look like a douche.

Anonymous said...

Racist idiot.

He's so full of shit. Coming from an Asian where most industry is dominated by the Latin alphabet; where most of Asia wishes it were Western. Absolute dick.

Maybe we should consider renaming 'Mcdonalds' to 'Ashuns r dumbasses 2' so his idiot asian brethren can pretend to be Western in comedic style.

Anonymous said...

hahahahahahahahahahahahaha funny stuff

Anonymous said...

Okay so, as for all the racism.. get with the times, like really we're all human.
As for this tattoo artist, right or wrong, it doesn't really matter. If you want to get something like Asian character inked permanently on your body, and you're to lazy or stupid to research the character ahead of time then it's you're own fault.

Anonymous said...

It's a good thing he didn't do this to my wife. I don't believe in lawyers for this sort of thing. This "artist" defaced a human body. This ugly American would have found him after he got off work. He would have a hard time giving tattoo's with no fingers. As I seem to remember this would fit with the feudal era. It would also do one thing the law can't. Insure he would never do it again.

Anonymous said...

Im asian and sorta feel the same way as this artist. these tatoos kinda bother me sometimes. but by no way is this reasonable behavior. why not refuse your service? you cant get sued for it. why? its not cuz they're american, its cuz they dunt have a legitimate reason to get this tatoo.

but then again, i guess this guy was just really fed up and stuff and finally cracked.

Ken said...

I applaud this guy and I find this refreshing. It's not often someone can pull one over on a large group of people, so I'm all for anyone who can do that.

I love the irony too.

Anonymous said...

Good on him.

"Well I hate it when I have to tattoo an asian person who wants to get a tribal tattoo. YOU ARE NOT AFRICAN. Or wannabe asian wangstas that get crips and bloods tattoos."
You are a fool. Whats being african got to do with tribal tattoos. Definition: Popular" form of abstract art for the skin." it has no similarity to the words a bunch of idiots thought they were getting. These words are symbols with a meaning to them why should we get them just cuase we think they look cool if we dont understand what they mean

Anonymous said...

Excusez-moi, guys, but has nobody realised how terrible lulzy this is?


Sakai, I salute you.

Anonymous said...

First commenter is weeaboo.

Anonymous said...

The customers asked for a specific meaning, therefore, they would know what the symbols meant if this jerk of a tattoo artist hadn't vandalized their bodies. What he did is a crime and this holier than thou prick should be punished for it.

Anonymous said...

Being a black woman living in the United States I understand where the artist is coming from when he feels that someone is trying to "exploit his culture." I cannot judge him or say what he did was right or wrong. Experience is the best teacher however, and no deed ever goes unanswered. I can only hope that a lesson is learned by all of us.
(Condolences to the vandalized)

nausicaa said...

i feel for both sides.

i can understand why the college students are rather upset, but the artist's point is VERY valid.

it's wrong to take thousand upon thousand year old cultures and use them as your current fads.

oh yes... you are a beautiful goddess.. i'm so very sure.

but then again i am caucasian (though with a deep love of japanese culture, to the point of learning the language) and i remember being a stupid college aged kid.

that being said, i would want to look at the characters and see the design and flow of it as well. i would research it, check with people who knew what i was trying to express.

one day i will get horimono on my forearms, and i want it to be the culmination of years of belief in myself and the world around me... not an un-researched whim in the first 2 decades of my life.

明台 said...

すごいです! \\(^o^)//

gopherboy76 said...

I'm a big fan of tattooes and also love the Japanese culture.
I understand the guys veiws on fad tattoo's but think he's pushed it a little too far.
And as the GOOD tattoo artist's I know say, it's up to the person getting ink to research and be sure what they are getting. I'm thinking about a Japanese tattoo but it will be something meaningful for me and not on display as a look-at-me fad. I see to many rubbish Chinese/Japanese symbols either badly written, backwards or meaningless shapes (Quick cash for crap tattoo artists). People should research what they want embedded for life in their skin!
I feel sorry in some fashion for the students but a little common sense would have saved the humiliation.
Also Tribal is done to death, it's now bunches of meaningless squiggles and so far off what original tribal tattoo's are meant for!!

Ophelia said...

This post doesn't surprise me. I've heard of this happening before. I don't know if it's true but I heard it happened to Britney Spears a long time ago. But, she's rich so she can afford to have it removed. However, your average working man probably cannot afford to have it removed easily. I wonder if this tattoo artist has been sued yet?

Anonymous said...

Pretty funny, the people it happened to kind of deserve it, but this guy shouldn't be too surprised if one day a guy with a ball-peen hammer comes in and does a job on his hands, either - he'd have it coming too.

If he didn't like doing it, he should have said 'no', or gotten into a different line of work. I like to reference the "Amish Busdriver" rule - You can be amish, and you can be a busdriver, but you can't be both - meaning if your convictions conflict with your job responsibilities, then you need to find a different job, or different convictions.

Ben said...

Pretty funny, the people it happened to kind of deserve it, but this guy shouldn't be too surprised if one day a guy with a ball-peen hammer comes in and does a job on his hands, either - he'd have it coming too.

If he didn't like doing it, he should have said 'no', or gotten into a different line of work. I like to reference the "Amish Busdriver" rule - You can be amish, and you can be a busdriver, but you can't be both - meaning if your convictions conflict with your job responsibilities, then you need to find a different job, or different convictions.

Anonymous said...

In western society, tattoos are looked at in different ways.

I am an American, and i think tattoos are trashy. I look at it as scarring your bodie's natural beauty with practically meaningless pictures or words. and most people regret them.

my brother's girlfriend got a tattoo of a zombie care bear on her upper arm for no reason, and I think it's so ugly!

but this girl at my school got a dove with beads in it's beak on her back in the memory of her best friend and cousin who was murdered. I think those kind of tattoes are ok. at least it has a meaning.

I wouldn't get kanji tattoed on me if I couldn't read it myself. I'm only a small bit japanese, and I do think it's annoying when people get Kanji tattooes especially becasue they can't reaad it, and because usually it's something that doesn't have to do with anything.

What this guy did though wasn't right, i mean it is permanant. that's really mean.

Anonymous said...

Wow...I started lol'ing at the first comment xD

Unholy fecies... People really need to stop being such ignorant poopdicks.
Fuck, if you're going to have something tattooed on your body, atleast do some research before doing so... I'd probably do the same in the spoken artists shoes....simply for the lulz.

Anonymous said...

Great job, Sakai!

For those people who didn't receive what they wanted... tough. You should have known what the characters are and exactly what they look like. It's not like you can't just look over in the area he's working on and call him out on it... unless it's your back, but he should have a mirror somewhere. That's no excuse to not know what he putting on you.. and if you can't look in the area he's tattooing for a few seconds to recognize he's not etching the right thing, then you're a bitch and shouldn't be getting one.

Sakai for President! Why not? We have a black one! Woohoo Obama! Now nobody can be called a racist!

Al_Pal said...

*snort* This is awesomely "lulzy", as an earlier commenter said!
Well done, post author! :D
I'm sad for the racists in comments though. Ai yai freakin' yai.

Anonymous said...

I think anyone getting a tat of something they don't understand is foolish but someone could just as easily tattoo something on your back that degrades you in your own language - it's not like you can see what the artist is doing at the time. I'm totally surprised that someone hasn't blown his head off - if it was me, he'd be 6' under - F*& a lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

This guy is truly a piece of s41t. It would be like some young guy in Japan wanting 'Honor' tattooed on him in English. What's the big deal?
'symbols of his heritage' , my ass! The Japanese had no written language of their own so they borrowed Kanji from the Chinese.
http://www.omniglot.com/writing/japanese_kanji.htm

This guy should be thrown in jail.

Lara said...

Brilliant.

*hands the man a medal*

:-)

Anonymous said...

What the "artist" did was wrong and he should be sued and no longer able to do business. He charged for his services and he didn't produce what he was paid to do.........

Anonymous said...

He should be arrested or at the very least sued in civil court for the damage he did to these peoples bodies. He knowingly did something they did not want from their body and he took their money for doing it.

He can hate people all he wants for putting asian characters on their body, but the MOMENT HE TAKES MONEY he has take a contract the he has to fulfill. He ALWAYS had the option of declining to do the tatoo. That would have be the honorable thing to do. He is absolutely without honor.

I will tell you I have traveled all over the world and Asian countries are notorias for using english words on products and clothing. When I read these things I think WTF? That is stupid or it doesn't make sense. The whole time they are running around wearing this stuff thinking it is cool then asking me to sign their hello kitty diary with their hello kitty pen?

A rant I know but the bottom line is this guy is WRONG for doing what he did. If he really felt so bad refuse the work instead of taking someone's money AND disfiguring their bodies.

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