Featured Artist Interview | Vu Vu - InkedWay
Amazon Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Featured Artist Interview | Vu Vu

Meet The Artist

Vu Vu has been working as a licensed tattoo artist for a year now, after a two year apprenticeship at Enso Ink (located in San Diego, CA), where he now works as a resident artist. Prior to pursuing the art of ink on skin, Vu was working as a barber, but is now quickly climbing the ranks as an anime tattoo artist.

Though it’s not the only style he works in, Vu found his passion for tattooing through his love of anime, and the tattoos he proudly displays from the neck down. He has a full leg sleeve dedicated solely to Naruto, as well as both feet!

His body is almost completely filled with art, and because of this, Vu wasn’t left much room to practice on his own skin. He relied on fake skin to learn, and later, friends who had faith enough in his talents to offer themselves up as a human canvas.

Nerves of Steel

Seeing his work on someone’s skin is a rewarding scenario for Vu, but the process also has it’s share of anxiety inducing moments.

Though he’s gaining confidence through experience, he still uses his pump-up ritual in the bathroom before each session; splashing his face with water, and a few jumping jacks to get the blood moving.

“I ask them, ‘are you ready?’ […] but its more like for me, like am I ready to tattoo?”

Vu Vu, on pre-tattoo nerves

Once the line work is behind him, Vu feels more relaxed and focused. Much of his nervousness has faded over time, but he says getting started still gives him a rush of adrenaline.

A bit of performance anxiety is a sign of an artist who cares about the quality of their work, as well as the client’s contentment with the finished product. Vu’s meticulous nature is surely an integral component of his success with clients .

Finishing Strong

When asked about his favorite part of the tattooing process, Vu’s answered, “when you’re done.” The earnestness of this response was refreshing, and it made sense upon seeing the exquisite quality of his work.

Vu doesn’t consider himself an overly emotional person, but the excitement of seeing his hard work manifested in the form of a finished piece is, in his opinion, the most satisfying part of the job.

From Vu’s perspective, there’s hardly anything to dislike about a career in tattooing. He expressed his gratitude for being able to work in such a creative field, with an emphasis on the social aspects of the craft.

It Takes Two to Tattoo

Vu has a lot of patience and understanding for those going under the needle, and hasn’t had any truly negative encounters with his clientele. His favorite quality in a client is openness to the artist’s interpretation of their idea. The collaboration that comes from bringing someone else’s idea to life is endlessly rewarding for Vu.

Vu notes that it’s also important for a client to be understanding of artist’s various skill level to avoid forcing their hand at a design that they’re not yet equipped to handle. Vu is honest when clients request a tattoo he doesn’t feel he’d do justice, and makes suggestions for tweaks that make both parties happy.

This kind of flexibility is what allows the wonderful collaboration between client and artist, staying true to both the client’s vision, and the artist’s personal style. Remarkable creations are born from compromise and mutual respect.

Contact the Artist

You can see more of Vu Vu’s work on Instagram @bookie_ensoink, or reach out at the following email address: enso.ink.sandiego@gmail.com

Vu’s books are currently open, schedule your own session with him today!

Wanna be our next featured artist?

Interested in being featured in our next interview? Click here to submit your information and a team member will be in contact with you ASAP!

There’s no catch, no fees, or surprises. Interviews will be conducted via video conference for the safety and convenience of both parties.

Have a suggestion, comment, or query? We want to hear it! Visit our Contact Us page. Don’t forget to check out our previous interview with Sandra Price before you go!

Full Transcript

00:01.57
inkedway
Um, okay there it goes hi. How are you today I’m doing well why don’t you go ahead and introduce yourself you.

00:07.67
Vu Vu
Um, good. How are you Um, my name is vu. Ah. Also go by boookie I’m from San Diego I work at Enzo Inc. it’s about it. Ah so I been.

00:19.36
inkedway
Um.

00:22.86
inkedway
Cool How long have you been doing this.

00:33.23
Vu Vu
And official tattoo licensed tattoo artist for about a year now I just finished my 2 wo-year apprenticeship prior to that. So I’ve been with Enzo Inc for 3 years

00:43.90
inkedway
Wow! Nice How is the internship there the apprenticeship I mean.

00:51.39
Vu Vu
Um, ah it’s cool like we all know each other we’re all kind of like friends right? but it was or I mean it was very demanding. You know it’s pretty much your whole entire life. So yeah I mean even now that I’m not I’m done with my apprenticeship. Ah.

00:57.90
inkedway
Um, yeah.

01:08.70
Vu Vu
Tattoo is pretty much my home entire life too like we work nonstop you. So.

01:09.85
inkedway
Um, yeah, how many hours a week would you say work.

01:17.95
Vu Vu
Um, I’m at the shop every day. Ah, if I have like a small tattoo I do a small tattoo. But if not I’m always like working on other things you know and then like trying to promote myself get my get myself out there and stuff.

01:30.80
inkedway
Yeah, totally. So do you do like like what do you do in your time when you’re not tattooing sorry that was like a hard wait for me to say.

01:41.97
Vu Vu
Um, um, yeah, Ah, mostly I go to the gym or I hang out with friends really nothing else like pretty much that’s it I wake up. Go to work I hang out here like we have 2 apprentices. So like if if they need something I’m I’m helping them with stuff or I’m working on whatever I need to work. You need to work on and then at night I go to the gym and I go home like every day same thing. Um, yeah.

02:07.72
inkedway
That takes so lot of discipline.

02:14.80
Vu Vu
And but you know every now and that we have like cool fun things to do like someone’s birthday or whatever right? We had a wedding recently and then it’s holiday season so we got all those fun things coming up. No no, all we didn’t do tattoos at a wedding but ah the owner of of our tattoo shop Alex had his wedding.

02:24.10
inkedway
Um, you did tattoos at a wedding. Okay, all right? let see I was like that’s so.

02:33.17
Vu Vu
So we were there. Yeah, so the the wedding planner his wedding planner. Ah she set us a video she was at another wedding thing and and one of the groomsmen tattooed.

02:37.77
inkedway
Like a really cool idea like commemorate the day.

02:52.30
Vu Vu
The bride and groom at the wedding. So yeah, we thought we we thought about it too but not.

02:54.11
inkedway
Um, that’s pretty cool. Yeah, well so what is like your favorite part of your job.

03:06.64
Vu Vu
Um, ah favorite part of the job is um, it’s like really rewarding when you do like an awesome tattoo on someone right? and then that’s that’s one of it. Ah, another thing is like. You know like our drawings our flash whatever like sometimes we or I draw a lot of like random things and and sometimes people want it and it’s so crazy that you know people out there. Want your silly art. You know, um.

03:31.79
inkedway
Yeah, it must feel really good. Once you’ve finished something that was like ah a project that’s been in the works for a really long time you know like seeing all of your work come to fruition like in such a physical way.

03:38.59
Vu Vu
Um, yeah, very true like I’ve been doing nothing but small pieces because I’m still learning right? So I haven’t done anything crazy that like crazy big but I’m still like very satisfied and happy when. You know people take like my little small projects. But yeah, you want to be like I mean I see that um tells like I think my my most favorite one so far is like this but Hoku and.

04:00.35
inkedway
What do you have like a favorite piece that you’ve done so far.

04:16.89
Vu Vu
Is your c I and look at it real quick. It is oh yeah, the Hoku and mor from studio ghibli is like very small. It’s probably like this big right is.

04:28.65
inkedway
Um, yeah.

04:33.73
Vu Vu
Um, our friend’s forearm and it came out really good. So that’s like 1 most ah rewarding one I’ve done some other ones that are like big and full color which is cool too. But this one is so tiny and I got like all little details in there so I was pretty happy about it.

04:50.80
inkedway
Um, yeah, so do you have any did you learn by tattooing on yourself first.

05:01.21
Vu Vu
Um, no, not really because ah yeah, like we all have to tatsoo on ourselves when we’re learning right? But ah.

05:08.10
inkedway
Um, we.

05:09.20
Vu Vu
Alex he tattooed my entire legs already. So I didn’t really have room to practice on. But um I have like this little spot on my ankle. Let me see if I can show you guys I had like this little spot. So I tattooed this on me. But that’s all I did on myself. Just a little. Yeah, it’s just ah, the hidden leaf symbol from Naruso yeah, but that’s all I could do on myself and then um I just practice on friends.

05:26.20
inkedway
It’s a little blurry in the camera. But maybe you could send me a picture later and we’ll include it in the article. Um, oh larger, nice.

05:44.68
Vu Vu
Really and fake skin. Yeah, very scary and then um, yeah, like after like the whole first period of knee tattooing people.

05:45.39
inkedway
Um, oh yeah, was it scary. The first time you tattooed someone like on real skin.

06:04.12
Vu Vu
I’m always nervous I’ll like go to the restroom wash my face and like jump up and down a little bit before I go out and tattoo them and then I’ll sit down and then I had like this little thing where I asked them like art cause you know we have a mask on right? So they couldn’t really see my face and then I asked them. Are you guys ready and then they’re like yeah but it’s more like for me like am I ready.

06:07.95
inkedway
Washington.

06:24.60
Vu Vu
Tattoo You know? So yeah, yeah, a little bit if I’m still a but oh shit they were vied. Ah I still get nervous here there.

06:24.60
inkedway
Um, yeah, yeah, did that feeling like ever go away or diminish in any way.

06:38.13
inkedway
Um.

06:43.47
Vu Vu
But oh Brian we’ll say hi can this all come see hi cool come around what this this is Brian he works at ends zone. He he also taught me how to tattoo so this is chain you can.

06:45.29
inkedway
Um, yeah, totally.

06:53.10
inkedway
Um, hi nice to meet you Brian all very cool.

07:02.35
Vu Vu
For yeah I’m doing some video thing but video game video thing video video image interview thing for and so will yeah for ah I’m sorry what was the question again. Ah.

07:16.77
inkedway
That’s okay I always remember either I guess I think I was asking you about? um if the feeling of nervousness before you start got better. You know was eased with time or if it just remained the same ah potency.

07:19.99
Vu Vu
Hundred data slide.

07:25.71
Vu Vu
All it Definitely it. It ease a little bit with like certain things like what I’m doing like you know I know small script or something I feel like I already done it so much where. Like I’m kind of on autopilot but I’m still kind of nervous if I like you know like you you want to make sure it’s perfect right? So but I’m not as nervous as before but when I’m doing new things I’m all. Um so nervous like even what I’m doing stuff that I’m comfortable with like.

07:51.64
inkedway
Um, right.

08:04.58
Vu Vu
You know, like everyone’s skin is like a different shade. So when you’re applying your own tones. You want to make sure it’s like looking right right? So yeah, yeah, so I still I still get a little anxious and said but once I get my tones in and I see how it looks on them then.

08:10.46
inkedway
What if the color translates. Yeah.

08:23.62
Vu Vu
Then I kind of like get more relaxed and comfortable and then I just go on with the session. Yeah.

08:29.28
inkedway
What’s your favorite part of a session from like start to finish from you know, stenciling all the way through.

08:36.70
Vu Vu
Ah, it’ll probably be like when you’re done probably probably like 1 is 4 Yeah, when you’re finished. Ah I mean yeah, pretty much when when you’re done and and you get to see your work.

08:40.66
inkedway
Put you done I A good work.

08:53.64
Vu Vu
Fully finished right? Um I feel like I’m pretty good at lining I still have like difficulties with certain things sometimes right? but I know how to work like the way I’m working I know how to work and and adjust what I need to like not every line will be perfect.

09:10.78
inkedway
But.

09:12.42
Vu Vu
In the beginning for me, but as long as I I know what I’m doing to get myself like that room for error. So then when I do finalize things. It looks good right? Ah, shading is still fairly new to me like using like Magnum needles.

09:21.41
inkedway
Right.

09:31.63
Vu Vu
I have difficulties with I’m still trying to get that ah like trying to still understand that. But yeah, um, probably just one is finish and then we when we get to take nice pictures and then we wrap up the client and they’re all happy. So so yeah.

09:47.14
inkedway
Um, yeah, what do you like in your client. It’s like what qualities make a client a good client.

09:57.33
Vu Vu
Um, ah I mean let’s see I think for one I know that like if a client is. Is more open to like the tattoo artist as interpretation and style that helps a lot you know like like a lot of times the clients they have like some really cool ideas and we we try to make it work right? Try to put it all into the design and make it like nice and cohesive right? and sometimes they they have like really.

10:16.16
inkedway
Men.

10:30.16
Vu Vu
Crazy ideas and and then and then when we actually figure out a design for it. We’re like Wow that a really good like you know thing that you want to incorporate. But as long as they’re like open to let us try to execute it in a way that we can I feel like will be the best way for us to.

10:37.67
inkedway
Um, feel.

10:49.63
Vu Vu
Ah, give them a a good tattoo right? because sometimes people will ask for something. Um I’ll tell them like yeah I can’t do that right now I don’t know when I can. But yeah, that’s something that’s not something I can do for sure.

10:55.48
inkedway
Um, yeah, knowing the limitations but also like pushing them a little bit for your own growth.

11:11.69
Vu Vu
Yeah, and then yeah, that’s about it and then I mean and then ah, it’ll be nice that for them to send us a healed photo of the tattoo two weeks later too like I still knew but not I can’t there’s like a lot of tattoos I’ve done. Ah I want to see it what it looks like. But. Don’t hear from them anymore right? and it’s until they want to come in for another tattoo and then I see them and then I’m not all shit a tattoo looks cool but I was curious how it looked you know because I need to see everything so I could you know, ah evaluate and analyze what what I’ve been doing you know. But yeah.

11:28.58
inkedway
Right.

11:42.60
inkedway
Yeah, is there anything that you like can’t stand in a client like someone sits down and it’s you almost like just don’t want to even do it because.

11:59.43
Vu Vu
Um I have I think I have like a really ah I have really good patience right? So for the most part. Nothing really. I think because I understand like they’re they’re strangers to me right? So It’s like and I’m like the main thing is cause I’m new so I just try to just cater to whatever needs but like ah if they’re fidgeting too much I Just you know like remind them like.

12:28.31
inkedway
Um, yeah, please stay still.

12:30.26
Vu Vu
You know what? I mean like like it was like outbreak right? Like if if you need a stretcher or move like let me know right? But if you’re just constantly like fidgeting I don’t know like you want to go stretch go stretch and and come back and then we’ll start right? But for the most part, everything’s show I haven’t had anything crazy happen with.

12:35.70
inkedway
Are you.

12:49.70
Vu Vu
Anyone like yeah so far so good right? so.

12:50.42
inkedway
Thank god.

12:57.20
inkedway
Yeah, so what’s it like um for you to sit for a session to yourself getting your own tattoos now that you’ve like been on it it and been the person giving the tattoo.

13:08.93
Vu Vu
Um, ah when I one up.

13:14.78
Vu Vu
Um, oh when I get I love getting tattooed. Ah yeah, like I can pretty much get tattooed all day if if we can as long as long as ah I As long as I’m not too cold because you know how.

13:22.82
inkedway
Um.

13:29.99
Vu Vu
Let’s say you’re working on like your your stomach your chest or your shirt right? I mean you’re back and your shirt is off and then the the Ac is on right? like my body shuts down pretty easily. So if I get tattoos where I have to take my shirt off I have like a blanket or like a hoodie that I just put over my arms or something just to keep.

13:31.73
inkedway
Um, right.

13:45.34
inkedway
Um, yeah.

13:48.85
Vu Vu
Some of my body warm and then that’s it like I Just enjoy it. Um, you know it is painful but like I I want it on my body So bad. So I enjoy it.

13:58.40
inkedway
You have like full length sleeves.

14:01.15
Vu Vu
Um, yeah I have everything from the neck down I haven’t got my neck done yet. So I have like empty spots here and there but it’s pretty much fulfilled.

14:04.16
inkedway
What are we providing? That’s awesome. Do you have.

14:15.24
inkedway
Do you have ah like a favorite or a piece that’s more meaningful that you wear.

14:26.60
Vu Vu
Um, see well I love my hand tattoos a lot and I have 1 whole leg. That’s all narruto. So I like that because I’m really big into animate right? Ah and then.

14:32.45
inkedway
Yeah, that’s cool. Yeah for sure.

14:38.81
Vu Vu
Both my feet is ah naruto two 1 is saska 1 is naruto and that’s about it I have meaningful tattoos but they’re like it’s meaningful, but but my hands in my and my anime tattoos probably is my favorite.

14:49.40
inkedway
So sometimes the content isn’t necessarily what makes it meaningful. You know it can be like just any image but it’s meaningful because of the person who gave it to you or whatever you know was happening in your life at the time when you got it.

15:05.92
Vu Vu
Yeah, true, Very true.

15:06.81
inkedway
2 So as like a commemoration.

15:14.93
Vu Vu
Yeah Alex ah Alex is doing all my tattoos now and I mean I love his art so I’m always happy to get tattooed by him.

15:20.72
inkedway
Nice. Can you tell me about a time when you finished a piece and you were like overtaken with emotion about it.

15:38.22
Vu Vu
Um, ah, let’s see not not none too crazy about like emotion right? but I get hyped I get like very very heights. Ah, yeah yeah.

15:43.70
inkedway
Yeah, less an emotion excitement only an emotion.

15:50.71
Vu Vu
I mean a lot. Ah ah, a few of the recent ones I’ve done because you know I keep saying the fact that I’m new is like I don’t I’m not trying to use it as an excuse but like like most of stuff I haven’t done yet. You know so when I did.

16:02.91
inkedway
Yeah.

16:08.90
Vu Vu
I do like I mean I’m always on Instagram I’m looking at you know, a lot of ark and stuff so I’m like retaining what I see right? and then when I’m when I’m tattooing I’m executing stuff and I think I like subconsciously ah subconsciously ah remember things and then when I finish the tattoo. Just get hyped because I’m like oh shit like I actually did that shit you know like even though I had it planned like I haven’t all like colored and stuff on my ipad I have all my references right? But when it’s done on skin I’m like wow you know like yeah I just get hyped. That’s pretty much it.

16:26.40
inkedway
You are.

16:40.70
inkedway
Nice all right? Well I have 1 more question and then I’ll let you ah give whatever kind of promo you want to do for yourself. Um, my last question is just going to be is there any part of your job that you don’t like.

16:51.77
Vu Vu
I don’t.

16:57.64
inkedway
Like what’s the hardest part or the most talented.

17:01.55
Vu Vu
Um, ah well I mean not not really not really, but like I’ve always wanted to be like a tattoo hours and it took.

17:14.65
Vu Vu
Ah, long time to get to like to get the opportunity right? So um, I’m like Helic grateful and happy. Um, but 1 thing like maybe you don’t really like maybe some people don’t really know right and is any any type of like yeah. If. You’re like an independent contractor or whatever maybe not really no because I I used to cut hair too right? I used to be a barber so when I cut at the shop that’s me working and then after work all I gotta do is really just maybe like fill in my time slots and and book appointments right.

17:37.34
inkedway
Okay, that’s cool.

17:52.30
Vu Vu
So I have a lot of free time unless I’m like watching like barber videos or learning you know stuff like that. But for like in the tattoo industry like especially where I’m at right now like I am constantly working right? like you go home. You have to like you have to learn how to draw a lot of things you have to.

18:04.63
inkedway
Right.

18:10.86
Vu Vu
Have to prepare a lot of things yet. So it’s just like really no downtime as of right now and even even I think I have some friends that tattooed for a while and they’re really good at what they do, but they still have to stay up till 5 am working on their their projects for their clients. You know.

18:15.75
inkedway
Right.

18:27.43
inkedway
Yeah, it can be grueling on. Well thank you so much for being here today if you have any links that you want to throw out now or whatever you know.

18:29.69
Vu Vu
So yeah, yeah, but it’s worth it. So.

18:46.87
inkedway
When your books are opening up again. Anything like that final words before we close out.

18:54.17
Vu Vu
Um, thank you? Um, yeah, so my tattoo Instagram is boooky underscore enzo inc ah we also have a shop shop account. It’s enzo.ink San Diego and then you can have you can see all of ah our other artists on there in in the bio. So there’s Alex Brian fee and then there’s me and then we have 2 apprentices you can find all their tags. On our shop account and that’s pretty much it is.

19:22.64
inkedway
All right sweet. Thank you so much I’m gonna stop the recording now it was so nice talking with you.