Meet the artists behind the creativity of Just Ink

Photo by Aanya Sawhney Student Publications

In the heart of Midtown, Tech’s campus buzzes as usual. Students rush to their classes, hurriedly cram for their next exams and manage the bustle of academic and social life. This was Nhi Huynh’s life just a few years ago as a university student who graduated with a business degree during the COVID-19 pandemic, facing the tribulations of job-hunting before her passions whisked her into the future of her dreams.

Nhi Huynh, well-known as “nhiidles,” studied at the University of Georgia and was gearing up to join the work force. However, when the pandemic hit, the new lifestyle of social distancing and staying home actually reshaped Nhi’s future plans into a new direction — becoming  a massively successful tattoo artist. 

“Even when I was a business student, I would take art classes as electives; it was never something I was seriously pursuing,” Nhi said. “But [during lockdown] I just kept on finding new hobbies,” Nhi said. “At first I was just drawing on an iPad and then suddenly I found myself tattooing.” 

Nhi now works at Buford Highway’s “Just Ink Studio” where she is routinely booked up by clients who praise nhiidles’ unique and beautiful tattoos and warm nature. 

“Just Ink Studio” first opened last year around September, making the studio just over one year old. Initially, the studio only consisted of Nhi and her boss, Bond Bond, who is the founder and owner of Just Ink as well as a practicing tattoo artist. 

Though Just Ink is widely popular today, especially amongst Tech students and avid tattoo-lovers, the business had humble beginnings, as Bond started out tattooing at a small studio he rented out at a hair salon next to a Hong Kong supermarket.

Bond saved up for years and years before opening Just Ink and hiring his first artist, Nhi. 

“It didn’t feel like a risk joining such a new studio because I started off tattooing at home and I knew what I needed was guidance,” Nhi said. “Bond has been tattooing on and off for seven to ten years, even when tattoos were not as popular back then, so he was doing nails and tattooing on the side.” With Bond’s extensive experience in tattooing and his entrepreneurial drive spearheading the opening of the studio, it was not long before Just Ink attracted numerous highly-skilled tattoo artists.

Just Ink’s current artists:

  • Bond Bond (@bondtattooer) – Fine line, Asian, floral, illustration
  • nhiidles (@nhiidles) – Fine line, illustration, anime
  • Pok (@tat_toopok) – Asian, floral, fine line, geometric
  • Anna Suede (@annasuede) – Fine line, illustration, realism
  • Inkbae (@inkbaee_) – Feminine, kawaii, illustration
  • Santos (@_santostattoos) – Black & gray, large scale, script
  • MK ( – Traditional, fine line, custom flash
  • Jin (@jin_tatt00) – Blackwork, Asian, fineline
  • Tony (@tutatt_jis)

Each artist covers different styles of tattooing, so clients wanting different styles of tattooed art can find their own fit with many different artists at the studio. 

Each artist chooses specific styles to work in based on their own artistic strengths and interests, which also encourages clients to choose artists based on tattoo style. 

A lesser-known fact about tattooing is that it is very important to book an artist that specializes in the style of tattooing that you want done. 

It guarantees that the artist is passionate about your piece and that they are playing to their strengths to provide you the best results. 

For example, Nhi “like[s] the feminine, soft look [of fine line tattooing] rather than the bold traditional blackwork that [tattooing] kind of started with.

With tattoos, you know how the tattoo lines kind of expand over time? To me, if you can get the line as thin as you can in the first place, then over time the lines will still look clean.” Because Nhi is passionate about fine line tattooing and truly enjoys the art style, she has sometimes had to turn clients away. 

“I think the more I tattoo, I find the type of style that fits me and the type of stuff that I want to do. I tend to reject more stuff that I know I wouldn’t enjoy doing, or stuff that I know I’m not gonna do a good job in,” Nhi said.

Similarly, Erica Bae, also known as “inkbae” at the studio, shared a similar sentiment: “I have refused people if it’s something I don’t think I could produce the way [the client] wants it to look, so I just give the piece to a different artist that I know will kill it. [For example], if it’s fine line then I would recommend Nhi or Anna. If I’m not confident in doing [the piece] then I will definitely turn it down.” 

Erica’s style is not quite fine line, though she does use thinner needles than American Traditional tattooing, which is characterized by thicker lines. 

“My style is just very cutesy [art], and I like making it look like a sticker. That’s the image I’m going for — sort of sticker-style tattooing. I drew like this when I was a kid too, and I used to want to be an illustrator for children’s books. When I draw I think about my childhood, so I often draw with the thought, ‘How childish can I make this?’” 

To Erica, her doodle-style tattooing is a form of whimsical nostalgia and even a form of connection with herself and her past.

Because there are so many artists at Just Ink specializing in so many different styles, any piece you may like to be tattooed could find a home with one of the artists at the studio. 

In general, each of the artists’ dedication to their specific art style develops their tattoos into a skillful craft of which they are constantly practicing their mastery.

“My favorite thing about tattooing is that every piece you do, you get better with it. You’re constantly seeing improvement and growth,” Nhi said.

Life as a tattoo artist is clearly borne of a passion for art and for tattoo art specifically. This means that many of the tattoo artists have been in the client’s shoes as well, as most of the artists at Just Ink are studded with tattoos and decorative pieces representing themselves. Many of which are done by their fellow artists and some of their tattoos are self-done — a grueling process.

Because the artists have had their fair share of being the one in the client’s seat, they are extremely empathetic towards clients and have plenty of advice to share. For booking the tattoos, the artists emphasized that each tattoo artist will have a different mode of booking that they prefer: some artists are email only, some work through Instagram DMs and some artists can do both. 

The important thing about booking an artist is to know their style, have reference of the piece you would like done and for custom pieces: give the artist the freedom to create!

“It makes me so happy when people ask me to see what I can create with their reference photos,” Erica said. Once you get in the studio and you’re ready to commit to the art, the most important thing is to relax. “I always tell clients that the first tattoo is the most daunting one,” added Nhi, “but after that it’s just another mark on your body.”

Just Ink Studio receives a lot of Tech students as clients. Nhi and Erica were students themselves, and especially as many students are at the age where they are getting their first tattoos, Nhi and Erica are well aware of students’ anxieties around tattoos and professionalism standards. In such a career-oriented stage of their lives, students who want nothing else but to have a tattoo still find themselves hesitating simply due to their fear of workplace standards. 

However, Nhi said, “I think because of the newer generation, the standard for work requirements are kind of changing now. A lot of professionals are into tattoos, and tattoos in general have become so much more complex and diverse than dark blackwork. Tattoos are very artistic and it’s well-known that artists spend a lot of time developing their skills. I feel like now, tattooing is another form of art for purchase and contains a lot of opportunities for expression.” 

Erica added, “I definitely get how you could be afraid and nervous of tattoos. However, I don’t think it’s fair to judge people by their appearance anyways and tattoos are part of that appearance.”

Lastly, for fresh faces looking to get into the tattooing profession, Nhi and Erica shared some helpful advice as they went through the breakthrough process into the industry themselves. Nhi said, “For people who are seeking an apprenticeship, don’t be afraid to physically come in and present yourself instead of just working through social media. Have stuff ready like artwork that you think will help the studio make a decision towards the position.”

For tattoo artists, the apprenticeship period is a sort of “shadowing” period and a huge period of learning and growth that occurs before the artist will ever be allowed to touch human skin.

This assures that each apprentice is knowledgeable and skilled enough to perform the sort of taxing and permanent work that tattooing is. 

For Erica, her apprenticeship helped her immensely. Still, “it sucked because having to just watch and not being able to tattoo makes you start itching wanting to do it. But even just while watching, tattooing can sometimes look super easy but it’s not.” 

When asked about the deceptively hard task of tattooing real skin, Erica described, “tattooing is so different than drawing because even when you work on fake skin, you can still feel the tug of the fake skin and how deep you’re going. But skin feels kind of like butter, so you start gliding with the needle, meaning you need to know your needle depth and how deep you’re going.” 

Tattooing requires extreme skill and knowledge that the apprenticeship period is meant to help provide. 

Overall, for clients and tattoo artists alike, Just Ink Studio is an artistic haven that is adored amongst tattoo-lovers in Atlanta. It is the warm, welcoming environment and the artists who are beacons of creative vision that characterizes Just Ink as the perfect place to visit whether you are looking for your very first tattoo or for your tenth tattoo. 

Between Just Ink’s custom artwork, flash events and commitment to artistic creation, the studio is a reminder that tattoos are yours to impart meaning onto, to tell your story, or to serve as simple ornaments, decorating your skin with inky embellishment.

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