Rider Profiles: Tattoo Artist
Introducing our Rider Profiles series!
Each month, we feature interesting panda riders from various professions with unique stories to tell. This February, we get to know Tsunami, who is both a panda rider and tattoo artist.
Xu Zhengwei aka Tsunami, Tattoo Artist
Tell us a little something about yourself?
Hi! I'm Xu, but you can call me Tsunami. I’m a panda rider and a tattoo artist.
What made you get into the tattoo business? Do you come from a family of artists?
I got into the tattoo business mainly through personal interest. I did not come from a family of tattoo artists, however, I discovered at a young age that I could draw pretty well. My dad used to be an architect, so maybe I got some skills from him.
How did you become a tattoo artist? What’s your story?
It all started in my friend’s shop a few years ago. I would hang out there quite often. No one knew I could draw well because I never told anyone. One day I was really bored while waiting for them to finish off so we could go to dinner. I randomly picked up a pencil and started drawing. They were really surprised to see what I could do. That’s where it all started.
What is the most meaningful tattoo you’ve ever done? What’s the story behind it?
An 89-year-old man once asked me to put a tattoo on him as his dying wish. He told me that it has always been his dream to get a tattoo but said that the culture he was from banned him from doing so. He requested a tattoo of this ancient coin which I will never forget.
What’s the strangest thing you’ve been asked to tattoo?
You’d be surprised with how many strange requests I get. The strangest would be this middle-aged man who requested an orange underwear with red roses tattoo in his groin area. Yes, he was a man. And yes, it was completely shaped like a brief.
What are some of your pet peeves as a tattoo artist?
Clients who don’t let us do our job. Most tattoo artists have worked very long. I’ve been in the business for 12 years, meaning we know what we’re doing. Listen to our advice, if we think a certain tattoo isn’t suitable, it probably isn’t. Also, don’t drink before getting a tattoo. Most people think that drinking before getting a tattoo would lessen the pain when in reality, it can be much worse. When you have alcohol in your system, the ink gets pushed out of your skin by the blood even more. This means that we need to repeat it several times. Also, please give us artistic freedom. Don’t go around picking random tattoos from the internet.
Any interesting discoveries throughout your course of work?
One surprising observation I’ve noticed is that most ladies can usually tolerate more pain than men. One girl even told me that getting a tattoo is more painful that pregnancy.
Any tips for those who wish to get a tattoo?
Tip 1: I’ve been saying this for the last decade - please get something meaningful. Don’t get a tattoo on impulse, then come back to have it covered.
Tip 2: Don’t get random tattoos on the internet. You tattoo must be for you, and you alone. It can be quite offensive to tattoo artists to see people copying their tattoo designs and sharing them without consent. If I do a tattoo on you that was designed by someone else, it might cause problems with the artist who originally designed it.
What are the qualities you think any good tattoo artist must have?
I think what you’re asking can apply to any profession. To me, you must always be honest, responsible and serious about your work. Also, you need to be flexible and versatile. Be creative, smart and don’t be Keh Gau.
Do you have a shop? How can we contact you or book an appointment?
Can you share some design samples?
Run me through your day as panda rider and a tattoo artist?
What I like about both jobs is that you have control over your schedule - they’re both very flexible. However, I never do both jobs in one day. Mainly because both jobs require a lot of energy and focus. On days I decide not to ride, I usually provide my tattoo services.
Why did you choose to ride for foodpanda? Is there anything you love about the company?
At first, I just tried out foodpanda for fun because I like riding my e-bike around Singapore. I decided to stay with foodpanda this long because of the pay and all the friends I’ve met. I’ve met people from all walks of life.
Can you share us your top 3 Rider tips?
Tip 1: Always ask vendors to put double plastic whenever you need to deliver soup. No matter how good of a rider you are, it’s hard to avoid bumps on the road which can cause the soup to spill.
Tip 2: Don’t be late and stay committed to your shifts. In my 3 years as a panda rider, I’ve never skipped a shift.
Tip 3: Regardless of the situation, always apologize to the customer. It saves a lot of time and trouble.
Know a rider with an interesting profession worth a feature? You can nominate them by sending an email to with the subject "Rider Profiles Nomination"