Tattoo is a lifesyle, a personal preference, and an art form that has gained popularity and mainstream appeal especially among women. Today, we’re going to swing by Door Dang, a tattoo studio with a red-door theme and chat with its owner May Chularat.
May tells us that she used to have a full-time job and spent roughly a year as a tattoo apprentice on the side, honing her skills on practice skin and sometimes on the real skin of the people living in her neighborhood. Once she started getting more and more customers, she decided to open her own shop. Door Dang is now in its second year.
”Door Dang is more than just a tattoo studio.”
The beginning of Door Dang
”My boyfriend Bom and I found this vacant lot in Teuk Dang Vintage in Chatuchak. We were interested but we didn’t know what we wanted to do with it at the time. Then I realized that some of my customers have complained that I live too far, so maybe I should just open a proper shop [in Chatuchak].”
"I want to make it easier for people who want to get a tattoo from me.”
What’s in the name?
”I love red and I wanted my shop to look a bit like a shrine. ‘Door Dang’ also sounds a bit dirty* (laughs).”
*”Door” in Thai refers to a penis
What makes Door Dang stand out from the rest?
“I don’t wanna say that my tattoo style is completely unique but people appreciate my work that they saw on social media. There are a lot of skilled tattoo artists out there, but I think it’s the service mind that makes me stand out.”
“I’m only a tattoo artist so my job is simply to reflect the needs of my customer on their skin. It’s important to respect their choices and give them what they want.”
Can you tell us about your first tattoo?
“I had an owl tattoo on my back which has now been covered up. I got it when I was around 18. I didn’t tell my parents but they didn’t really say anything when they saw it.”
”I like them all because each one represents a different period of my life. If I had to pick my most favorite one, I’d have to say the flame tattoo because I did it myself.”
Advice for tattoo first-timers
“Think it over. Some people just want to have tattoos, especially young teens. I’d always tell them that there’s no hurry and that they should think carefully before getting one. Because I don’t tattoo those under 18, sometimes they get mad at me.”
”Someone DM’ed me, saying they wanted to get a tattoo. Appointment was made and everything but when they showed up, it turned out that they were only 16! I had no choice but to refuse. We later became friends and I promised them that I’d tattoo them when they turn 18.”
Challenges as a tattoo artist
“I’m only just starting out so everything is a challenge for me. The skin on each person is different, not to mention the position on the body. I still get nervous every time I tattoo.”
Things to consider
“I try to honor the customer’s need first, then see how the design would look like on the body. Sometimes the design looks really good, but it doesn’t work with the placement.”
Do you get a lot of female customers?
“I’m a woman myself so I tend to get more female customers. Some women want tattoos in intimate places so they’d rather go with a female artist. I feel like more and more women are getting tattoos now, perhaps even more than guys.”
Did you ever felt discouraged?
“In the beginning when I was just starting out. Working on real skin is so much different from practice skin. I didn’t feel like I did a good job so I got a bit discouraged.”
“The skin on each person is different. The placement of the tattoo also dictates how difficult the piece will be. I have to learn to be more patient and able to think on my feet if anything doesn’t go as planned.”
Women with tattoos are often frowned upon in society, what’s your take on that?
”We’re living in 2023, right? You have to respect other people’s decisions. It’s just an artistic expression.”
Who’s your dream customer?
“I want to tattoo my favorite artists like Hyukoh. I love him so much but, yeah, probably a pipe dream (laughs).”
How timeless do you think your style of tattoo is?
”Tattoos are very much like fashion. They go in and out of style all the time.”
The future of Door Dang
“Apart from Door Dang, I’m also collaborating with the M.A.A.W crew near Mischa Cheap on Khaosan Road. It’s a hub for art, tattoo studios, and different workshops.”