“TRUE TO MY OATH, THEY PROUD OF MY GROWTH.
1st generation Vietnamese-Canadian born from Mai Tran and Bang Lam.
Both refugees of the Vietnam War, they dreamed of a better life.
I own Studio Cong, a custom tattoo studio in Calgary, Alberta 🇨🇦
Cong-Hy Christopher Lam is my name.
2008: I met James Jacobs at Bushido Tattoo and started consistently getting tattooed by him. Since we met, it has been my goal to have a Japanese body suit. As I got more and more tattoos with James, I let James know of my interest in learning how to tattoo from him. At the time, he didn’t show disinterest but he didn’t seem too interested either. This reaction was for good reason tho, because at this time I was still caught up in another life. I kept coming back and getting tattooed bigger and bigger pieces. During the appointments, I would ask about as many questions as I could. Bringing up my drawings for him to see here and there. He’d give me some critique and that’s how it went for 5 years.
2013: James still not taking me as an apprentice, but agrees to take me to buy a machine. If I had to guess, it was me showing him machines I was going to buy on eBay that pushed him to the edge. I got my first machine and with James’ assistance, he let me design and help tattoo myself at the shop. It took a long time to complete, but in the end, it’s still one of the proudest moment of my life. The date was April 6th 2013. During this time, James let me tattoo two other friends with his guidance. If only you knew how many people I told I was going to be a tattoo artist over this time… Even with that experience, I still hadn’t straightened out my life… Same asian, same trouble, new tattoo.
7 DAYS A WEEK
2014: Finally starting to wake up. I was working full time at an amazing Paint Protection Film shop, Thompson Graphics Ltd. Now the time had finally come! It was my shot! James agreed to let me come by to help around the shop. Luckily for me, Darren and his family all get tattooed by James, so he had no problem with it. – I was late the first day… Good thing we’ve known each other for years by this time, so thankfully he let it slide. This was my opportunity to take in all the information I could get my hands on. Working for free, cleaning, learning and a bit of tattooing for a couple years. The boys at the shop all took part in giving me tips and showing me the ways of tattooing.
2016: Maintaining a full-time job and working for free part-time at the tattoo shop. The day comes when James lets me know he willing to take me on as his full time apprentice. I remember the thought of giving up a guaranteed amount per hour job, for a questionable life as an artist. As much as I loved working for Darren and Kari, I had to leave. At one point, I was debated giving up the dream of tattooing for Paint Protection Film. Comfortable jobs can be a dream killer. In the end, Darren and Kari knew this day was coming and were happy to see me chase my dream at Enso Tattoo. I’ll always love and be thankful for the everything the Thompson’s did for me. We were more than employees to them. We are family.
BIGGER THAN LIFE
2020: I have now been tattooing professionally for 3 years full-time at Enso Tattoo and it’s been a dream come true. This journey is far from over tho! There’s still so much more I have to learn in my craft and art. I was never the perfect person for this position and made many bad decisions along the way. In hindsight, I could have been tattooing much longer in my career by now if I hadn’t fucked around for so long. All in all, I wouldn’t change anything from my past. All those experiences good and bad are what made me who I am today.
To everyone who was willing to openly teach and guide me under no obligation. All my clients and the people who support me. Thank you for everything you have done for me. One day, I will find a way to give back for everything you’ve all done.
James, I hope you know you and tattooing saved my life. Thank you for giving me a chance. I wouldn’t be here today without you.
This is only the beginning… TMC
SOUND OF MY CEREMONY
2020: If you want to take an island, burn the boats.