KUALA LUMPUR: While most people can picture the brightly coloured koi fish in ornamental ponds, art canvasses and even body tattoos, one can hardly imagine to see it in a hairstyle.
However, this was one “hair job” that Ardy Shafiq Arshad could not resist.
“It was the weirdest and most challenging request,” said the 24-year-old hair tattoo artist of the customer who asked that his hair be done in the image of the koi fish!
“I was taken aback at the request but was really happy with the results. So was the customer,” he said.
Explaining hair tattooing, Ardy, also known as Damis in the graffiti arena, said it involves colouring the hair in different shades and forming designs and words from the strands.
Unique style: Ardy (black shirt) and Amirul serving customers at Hot Hot Cut in Kuala Lumpur.
“It’s just like drawing except that the pencil and eraser is my razor.
“Before I start, I imagine a sketch in my head. Then I start shaving,” he said at the Hot Hot Cut hair studio that he shared with a friend at the Bukit Bintang monorail station here.
For a college dropout from Perak, becoming a self-trained hair tattoo artist is the “crowning glory” of a long-cherished pursuit.
“I knew my calling was in the art business and I was prepared to face all obstacles to achieve my dream.
“After dropping out from an electrical and electronics course in college, I moved to Kuala Lumpur to pursue my dream.
“But it did not come easy. I had to do lots of odd jobs to make ends meet before I could save enough money to open a shop,” Ardy said.
After being involved in the graffiti arena for six years, Ardy decided to try his hands on hairstyling and discovered hair tattoo.
“I did not enrol in any hairstyling courses. I learned the art through YouTube,” he said.
Initially plying his trade on the streets, he set up a barbershop – which is still in business – at a pasar malam site in Cheras three years ago.
Through Facebook, he met his business partner Amirul “Ooi” Asraf Mokhtar, 26, who had a hair salon in Ipoh. Together they opened Hot Hot Cut.
“We wanted to be different from the usual street barbershops and designed it for people who want to stand out from the crowd,” he said.
Their “masterpieces” have caught the attention of local artistes, including hip hop celebrity Joe Flizzow and members of indie bands Bittersweet and They Will Kill Us All.
The message from Ardy and Amirul to youngsters: “Never give up on your dreams. If you know what you want to do in life, be confident and pursue them no matter what.”