The Proust Questionnaire: Shane Tan
I'm loving this new Proust Questionnaire, featuring the hilarity of Shane Tan of Feather Cloud Tattoo. After 7 years in Zurich, Shane has returned to Singapore, where he began his tattoo career 14 years ago, and opened up a private tattoo atelier. The good news is that, for the first time since January 2014, Shane will be taking on new work.
In our email Q&A, Shane talks about high powered-meeting sports shorts, Sid Vicious, and being an "Asian Superman."
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Approximately 2 months ago, I had a couple of builders and contractors over at my home/studio. It was our very first meeting and prior to that, there were only email and phone conversations. They arrived in the morning, equipped with their measuring equipments and their catalogues of paint colors and some kind of portfolio. Very professional. I woke up a wee bit too late, as all tattooers do. I spoke to them for about an hour, with a cigarette in the side of my mouth huffing and puffing away. I showed them the rooms and what I wanted to be done. Paint jobs, wallpaper, lights and all that renovation stuff. Speaking rather seriously, I emphasized that I wanted every single thing promptly done to my expectations. No shortcuts. No lazing around. No messing about. After acting like a CEO of a multi-million dollar company, I decided to take a toilet break. I wanted to just drown myself in the toilet bowl when I realized I had put on my shorts inside out! I'm sure you own or have seen one of those sports shorts, with the inner underwear thing? It's kinda like a netted underwear attached to your shorts. Its good for holding your jewels when you run, but turned inside out, it made me look like Superman with dreadlocks in a fishnet and gave me super powers of stupidity. Nobody cared to inform Asian Superman about his mishap. For the whole time, they were probably laughing whenever my back was turned. I'm sure they would have filmed it and let it run wild on Youtube...Bastards...Now if that isn't misery, what is? Why am I wearing sports shorts for a meeting? Because I can.
What is your idea of earthly happiness?
To love and be loved. I wasted too many years chasing something that never existed. Spent too much time worrying about career directions and financial issues. Like most human beings, we strive to do better. To succeed and to provide for our families, but in the process of it, we drift away from them, build some kind of thick protective wall around us and plunge ourselves into a deep hole of personal struggle. I think happiness is when you remember to love the ones who are awaiting your return.
Your most marked characteristic?
My wife says I'm the Immovable Sleeper.
What is your principle defect?
I lack focus on most things non-tattoo or art related. I forget a lot. That's the shitty part of tattooing and painting for me. I can't do anything else. Can't read, can't write, can't count, can't speak proper. Thank the heavens I learned how to tie my shoe laces when I was a child. It would be too complicated for me to learn anything now.
Who are your favorite musicians?
Sid Vicious was innocent. And he was my favorite musician because he lacked so much in musical talent, he had to divert his attention towards wrecking stuff (including himself) on stage to gain attention. You are dearly missed, Sid. I use Sid's technique of diversion a lot. I know I lack a lot of talent, so I make up for it with pure desperation and determination. Some people draw a dragon once and they achieve perfection, I have to draw the same one 200 times over before I think I'm ready to use it.
Who are your favorite artists?
I would say Hokusai. The body of work this master has produced is just amazing. I steal A LOT of his manga. And I love Kyosai. So provocative and so recognizable.
Who would you have liked to be?
A pop star. So I can worry about what color socks looks best on me. And have people type out this interview for me while 5 surrounding photographers fight amongst themselves to snap pictures and compliment me on my latest outfit, The-Inside-Out-Trousers designed by Luis Vuitton. I'd do a hit song called, "I'm your Asian Superman."
How would you like to die?
Hey why do you have to be so final? I've just started to live. I think I'd like to die holding my loved ones. Preferably the last thing I see should be the faces of my wife, my baby boy (preferably grown up by then) and my family. Hopefully, not a cop dragging my body out of the dumpster.
What is your present state of mind?
Right now? Well, I'm high off my face from good food and some laughs. I had really nice chocolate cake and a lot of good food at a Chinese restaurant in Pan Pacific Hotel today. We met my mum and gang for lunch. It was awesome. Since I quit drugs, my state of mind has been very clear. Motivated as hell.
What is your motto?
Give everything your best shot.
See more of Shane's work on his site and Instagram.