Kemang Street, South Jakarta is well-known for representing the modern Jakartan youngsters’ lifestyle.
Art galleries, trendy coffee shops, thrift shops, and tattoo parlours line up along the street. One of which is a modest tattoo parlour called “Bucksbuks Tattoo”, which first started in Bandung, West Java with no studio and now has expanded to Jakarta and Bali. If you googled a recommended tattoo studio in Indonesia, Bucksbuks will definitely make it on the front page. Despite the seemingly small store, Bucksbuks is among the longest-standing tattoo parlours in Indonesia as it has been operating for almost two decades.
In addition to the versatile and unique tattoo styles of the artists, Bucksbuks also wins people’s hearts by their dedication and friendly manners, as reviewed by a lot of their customers.
Run by four tattoo artists including Panky, the founder, Bucksbuks shared with us how they perceived tattoo as a part of one’s identity, lifestyle and how they made their little tattoo studio, quoting a customer’s review, “felt like a little family.”
What was the inspiration behind the establishment of Bucksbuks Tattoo?
Bucksbuks Tattoo was founded by Ricky Panky. He was originally from Jakarta, Indonesia. He’s been tattooing since 2000 and he specialises in the new school, biomechanic, colourful, but his style is not limited to those. Panky is very open to any design but still will put some of his touches in every tattoo he made.
We started in Bandung at first when we were still in college and took design as our major. We didn’t have a studio yet at that moment and we went door-to-door tattooing until we moved to Jakarta and decided to open a studio.
How does each of the tattoo artists in Bucksbuks Tattoo differ in their tattoo arts?
Each tattoo artist in Bucksbuks has different interests and styles. There’s one who specialises in black and grey, we also have a realist tattoo artist and even old or new school tattoo, but we are all friendly tattoo artists for sure, meaning we are willing to be open to different styles.
I’m aware that Bucksbuks Tattoo had been operating since more than 15 years ago. How have the trends in tattoo arts changed throughout the years?
Ever since I started tattooing, the trend has changed a lot. 10 years ago, a lot of people liked tribal and biomechanic or organic patterns, but now people like to do tiny tattoo lines work and dotting tattoo, but people still also like realist and oriental tattoo design. The old school tattoo designs are now being adopted by younger crowds. In addition, the sailor tattoos are also no longer the sole property of a certain subculture, like they used to be.
Are there any interesting clients’ stories or requests that you remember?
Well, we have a lot of interesting clients. There's a client who randomly came to the studio but he got no design. After we talked about the recommended designs, none of the design was good enough for him. Until he suddenly asked, “Hey, can I tattoo Bucksbuks logo and the letter as well?” and I was like “Are you sure?”
In your personal opinion, how do you perceive tattoos as?
A tattoo is not only a design that you put on your skin. It’s about telling who you really are. For me, a tattoo has become a lifestyle.
In Indonesia, there are still controversial opinions about tattoos. What is your response to this?
Well, it used to be a bad situation in Indonesia for people with tattoos, but now people see tattoos as an art and a way for you to show people who you are, so people have become more accepting to this lifestyle.