Legacy Tattoo, the Bangkok Studio Making Waves Around the World
S@S Bangkok chats to Legacy Tattoo founder Chatree “Ed” Suksawat.
Publish Date: 30 September 2019 / Story by: Monruedee Jansuttipan
Tattoo lovers from all over the world fly to Bangkok for our wealth of talented skin artists, who create mini masterpieces at a fraction of the price you might pay elsewhere. Leading the charge is Chatree “Ed” Suksawat, founder of the globally-renowned tattoo studio Legacy Tattoo, which sits within just a few minutes’ walk of S@S Bangkok. We spoke to Ed about his passion for the art and how he is shaking up the local tattoo scene.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I’ve worked in this field for over 20 years [previously under the name 23B]. I first became known abroad back then because I flew to Norway for a big tattoo fair, which is not something may Thai tattooists did back then. So, you could say I’m something of a pioneer for Thailand.
How did Legacy Tattoo start?
Legacy Tattoo is a collective of local and international tattoo artists. We have many artists who can do every kind of tattoo, from sacred Japanese style and Thai sak yant style to full-body. Since joining Yelo we’ve welcomed a seriously diverse clientele, from guest artists from across the world to even a Buddhist priest. We don’t look at ourselves so much as a business, but want to be a public space where like-minded people can share their knowledge about all things tattoo-related.
"We don’t look at ourselves so much as a business, but want to be a public space where like-minded people can share their knowledge about all things tattoo-related."
How do you share your knowledge about tattoos?
We host a bit annual event about tattoos. We’ve welcomed many international guests from places like Johnny Two Thumb in Singapore, one of the oldest tattoo studios in the world, who joined the opening day and passed one knowledge of proper tattoo etiquette, how to get the correct colours, and how to keep equipment clean, among other topics. This kind of event is quite rare in Thailand, as most artists just learn by observing what other artists do in their shop. The scene here is not quite as exciting as in the U.S. or in European countries.
Who are your customers?
I can say that nearly 100-percent are foreigners, including many from England and Australia who like full-sleeve or full-body tattoos. Customers usually ask us to finish the tattoo within five days, and yeah, we can do that for them. We do it clean just like a doctor in hospital.
How do you usually connect with other artists?
I travel a lot to join tattoo events in many different countries, so I need skilful hands to look after things when I’m not in Bangkok. Often when I meet great artists while travelling, we invite each other to be guests at our respective shops, that way we welcome many exciting guest tattoo artists all year round. My customers tend to hear about Legacy Tattoo through word of mouth.
Why are people so excited to get a tattoo in Bangkok?
Firstly, they may have to wait a long time in their own country. Secondly, the prices here are less than half of what they probably need to pay back home. Of course, our price varies according to the difficulty of the pattern, style of the artist, intricacy, and all aspects that may impact the time required to complete the tattoo.
What was your first ever tattoo?
My first tattoo was one I did on myself to practice my lines, but I still don’t really know what pattern it is. Personally, I like tattoos that tell stories about religion, like crowned Buddha symbolism.
Your favourite tattoo artist?
Horiyoshi III. I even flew to Japan just to have a picture with him.
M/F, Yelo House, Kasemsan Soi 1. BTS National Stadium
Open Wed-Mon 1-7pm
Ed's Bangkok must-visits
“I love Hard Rock Cafe for their music, and also hanging out with my Harley gang. For more live music, I also like Saxophone Jazz Pub, particularly on Monday nights for the masterful live percussion of Noom T-Bone. They also welcome lots of great young faces.”
Ed's thoughts on the Siam neighbourhood
“I see Siam as being just like Shibuya [in Tokyo]. It has everything from tutoring schools to fashion shows. Everyone in Bangkok must have spent some part of their lives in Siam.”