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From Ink to Inspiration: A Candid Conversation with Gabe Shum, Founder of the 7th Hong Kong China International Tattoo Exhibition

From Ink to Inspiration: A Candid Conversation with Gabe Shum, Founder of the 7th Hong Kong China International Tattoo Exhibition

In the vibrant world of tattoo artistry, one name stands out for his remarkable contributions and unwavering passion for the craft. Gabe Shum, the founder of the 7th Hong Kong China International Tattoo Exhibition and the proud owner of Freedom Tattoo HK, has emerged as a visionary figure in the industry. We dive into the life and artistic journey of Gabe Shum, shedding light on his profound impact on the tattoo community.

Early Beginnings and Passion for Tattoo Art

Shum's love affair with tattoo art began in his formative years. Born with an innate artistic talent and a keen eye for detail, he discovered his passion for body art at a young age. "I named my shop Freedom Tattoo when I was a teenager, my father ran a textile factory called Freedom Textiles in Ghana, West Africa. It was a time of great significance and freedom for me. I wanted my tattoo shop to symbolize freedom and the ability to express oneself without limitations."

Shum's journey into becoming a tattoo artist was sparked by a personal experience that challenged societal perceptions. Recalling his first tattoo at the age of 16, Shum faced opposition from his father, who held the belief that having a tattoo associated one with being a gangster. Driven by his rebellious nature and curiosity, Shum challenged the stereotype by conducting extensive research only to uncover no factual basis for the association between tattoos and criminality. This realization fueled his determination to become a tattoo artist and defy societal norms, leading him to pursue his artistic passion and reshape the perception of tattoos as a form of artistic expression.


Founding the 7th Hong Kong China International Tattoo Exhibition

During his early twenties, Shum embarked on a transformative journey by participating in tattoo conventions in Europe. His experience was marred by the dismissive attitude for being a young Chinese artist from Hong Kong, fueling a determination to prove them wrong. Upon returning to Hong Kong, he observed that the local tattoo scene was indeed lacking in professionalism and quality compared to the international standards he encountered. This realization became a driving force for Shum, who vowed to elevate the tattoo industry in Hong Kong. He set out on a mission to establish a convention that would break barriers and redefine the perception of tattooing in his city.

Recognizing the need for a platform to celebrate and showcase the artistry of tattooing, Shum took a bold step and founded the 7th Hong Kong China International Tattoo Exhibition. This annual event has become a prominent gathering of renowned tattoo artists, enthusiasts, and industry professionals from around the globe. The convention serves as a melting pot of diverse styles, cultures, and artistic expressions, fostering creativity and promoting the exchange of ideas within the tattoo community.


The Visionary Behind Freedom Tattoo HK

In addition to his contributions as a convention founder, Shum is the proud owner of Freedom Tattoo HK, a renowned tattoo studio that has gained international acclaim. With a vision to provide a safe and welcoming space for clients to express their individuality through body art, Freedom Tattoo HK has become synonymous with exceptional craftsmanship, artistic innovation to clients worldwide. This has resulted in loyal clientele and widespread acclaim in the industry tattoo celebrities such as David Beckham and Lebron James.

Impact and Legacy of the Hong Kong China International Tattoo Exhibition

Through an unwavering passion and commitment, Shum has not only elevated the status of tattooing in Hong Kong but also contributed to the global recognition of the city's tattoo community. The Hong Kong China International Tattoo Exhibition, curated personally by Shum, has risen to claim the coveted number one spot as the world's premier convention, attracting over 160 internationally acclaimed and highly skilled tattoo artists in its seventh edition. Renowned artists such as Bez of Triplesix Studio from United Kingdom, Horiyoshi3 Souryou of Horiyoshi3 Tattoo Shop from Japan and Sabado, one of the best artists from Japan, will be displaying their extraordinary talent at the convention.

This year, the Hong Kong China International Tattoo Exhibition has firmly established itself as the unrivaled pinnacle of the industry, reaffirming its status as the most sought-after and prestigious gathering worldwide. Beyond its acclaimed showcase of artistic talent, the convention serves as an influential platform to challenge stereotypes surrounding the industry. Under Shum's guidance, the convention has become a beacon of creativity, innovation, and cultural exchange. Artists from prominent European conventions eagerly express their desire to participate in the number one convention in the world.


The Future Remains Bright

Shum shares his dreams of expanding into China to promote a dialogue and understanding within the local community, stating, "I have big plans, starting with a tattoo convention in China next. A convention serves as a platform to highlight the talent of both local and international artists, while contributing to the positive shift in the perception of tattooing to mainstream recognition. It plays a crucial role in fostering the growing acceptance and appreciation of tattoo culture in the country.”

What lies ahead? Shum harbors a grand vision of hosting a Tattoo Olympics, an event that would showcase the mastery and creativity of tattoo artists on a global scale. Inspired by the spirit of competition and camaraderie, this event would highlight the diverse styles, techniques, and innovations that define the world of tattooing. Through his forward-thinking vision and unwavering dedication, Shum continues to shape the tattoo industry, not only through the success of the Hong Kong China International Tattoo Exhibition but also by envisioning new avenues for artistic expression and appreciation, both in China and beyond.


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