Aug 30, 2015

In the zone with award-winning tattoo artist Haryboi Ruiz


The two-time Pinatikai champion and owner of HB Tattoo Studio talks about his masterpiece, getting inked at 15 and the hurdles at the start of his tattooing journey.


Haryboi Ruiz was already busy tattooing his client for the day when I arrived at HB Tattoo Studio. The interview was purposely set on that date so that I could see this particular client and the skin art Haryboi was working on him.  

The tattoo was a colored, full back and half-sleeve bio-mechanic piece, a work in progress that started about a year ago. The tattoo earned Haryboi first place at the 2015 Party in Paradise Tattoo Expo. He fondly calls it both his masterpiece and his most challenging work to date. For that afternoon's appointment, Haryboi extended the design to the client's upper body. 

The details are stunning and made more interesting by the fact that 97% of the design is done freehand. Freehand tattoos are more challenging because the artist doesn't rely on a stenciled pattern. Imagine drawing something on someone's skin purely from memory and imagination using a needle and ink that will never come off.

Haryboi belongs to a rare breed of people who have successfully made a living out of their passion. Read on for my interview with him.


At what age did you discover your talent for tattooing? 

HB: I've always been interested in the arts from a young age. I got my first tattoo when I was in 3rd year high school (about 15 years old) and by that time I was already interested in tattooing. 

How did you start off? Did you have any formal training?

HB: I did freelance work at first. I am self-taught and did my own research. 

What challenges did you face at the start and did your family support you? 

HB: Years ago, tattooing supplies and equipment were very limited and difficult to obtain. I had no problems with my family, they were very supportive. 

Who was your first ever client?

HB: A neighbor who was an ex-convict was my very first client. As per his request, I did a rose tattoo with his mother's name on him. He has since died. (Not from the tattoo of course!)

What was your job before becoming a full-time tattoo artist? 

HB: I worked as an architectural draftsman for three years and another three years as a graphic artist before opening my own shop. 

What do you love most about being a tattoo artist?

HB: Having no rules. And I get to come to work anytime I want to.

What was the weirdest tattoo you did on a client?

HB: A friend of mine who was bald asked me to tattoo tiny dots (like new hair follicles) on his scalp. 

What tattoo do you hate doing?

HB: Tribal tattoos. Because they tend to be flat and one-dimensional. 

Which is your favorite tattoo on your own body and who did it? 

HB: A biomechanic flower on my feet done by my friend Jovenito Dichos. He is now working in Sweden as a tattoo artist. 

Which celebrity do you dream of tattooing and what design would you choose for him/her?

HB: A lot but I'll say Brad Pitt. A biomechanic design will look really good on him. 

How has the tattoo culture in Cebu changed in the last 10 years? 

HB: There are many artists now and supplies are more available. Also, compared to other provinces in the Philippines, Cebu has a more open attitude toward tattoos. 

What message do you want to tell people about tattoos?

HB: They should not be intimidated by people with tattoos. They should be amazed. Tattoos are a form of art. 

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to get a tattoo?

HB: Research and choose your artist well. 





Thank you Haryboi for letting me interview you! I had a fun and informative time!
Check out Haryboi Ruiz's tattoo works on his Instagram and Facebook.

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HB Tattoo Studio
3rd floor Ranulfo Building,
F. Ramos Street, Cebu City
(right beside St. Mary's Dormitory)
For inquiries and appointments contact: 0922-810-7128 | Facebook 

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30 comments:

  1. very impressive blog (& interview) on one of cebu's finest tattoo artists! :)

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    1. Thank you, Poy! I'll be featuring more local talent on Coffee, Tea or Death. Stay tuned ;)

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  2. :)visit us or hit me up +63 9228107128

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  3. Great piece on an icon of a tattoo artist in cebu! \m/

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  4. I must agree that people should be wise in choosing who will apply tattoo on them, :)

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  5. I've been itching to get my own tats for years. My only problem for now is that I'm not done with school yet and Catholic schools are sooo strict with this. Huhai. Haryboi is one of the tattoo artists on my list. Who knows, basin adto ko niya mgpa tattoo. Hehe

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    1. I'm excited for you ;) Don't worry, it's going to be worth the wait! Go to HB Tattoo as soon as you graduate haha!

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  6. That's a nice combination of technology-cyborg look with a touch of culture through some alibata symbols! Modern yet paying homage to cultural heritage

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    1. Good eye! If I remember correctly, the alibata was an early tattoo piece; it was inked way before the biomechanic details. I guess one of the marks of a great tattoo artist is being able to incorporate different elements :)

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  7. Ka cool sa iyang tattoo! I've been actually thinking to get one myself pero wa pako kadecide where and what akong ipatattoo. Magsige rakog ingon dapat "worth the pain" akong tattoo. HAHA!

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    1. Take your time :) It's gonna be on your body practically forever so the tattoo should be something you are 100% sure and can be proud of!

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  8. Yay! Another tattoo artist to look forward to. I'm getting one next year and still getting feedbacks from friends who already have one.

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    1. That's good, I'm excited for you ;) And yes you should definitely talk to your inked friends so you'll know what to expect (pain, price, etc.) when you get one!

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  9. Wow! I'm not really a fan of tattoos but I'm into arts and crafts, so I can still appreciate every details: ) great tattoo artist!

    Best regards,

    RICA | www.switbbydoll.com

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  10. I used to think tattoos were dirty but I have since then changed my mind because I know that it supports artistic endeavors which I believe is lacking especially here in Cebu. How many can you call real Cebuano artists? Only a handful and Mr. Ruiz is one of the few.

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  11. That body tattoo is totally impressive. I only saw some gallery from tattoo artists abroad and amazingly Mr. Ruiz did it to that guy. Amazing art! :)

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    1. His work and talent are something we can definitely be proud of :D

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  12. That is really, really impressive, top-notch work. Say what you say about people that have tattoo's, but art is art, and sometimes, you just can't deny it when it looks as amazing as that.

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  13. Cool, creative, and just talented! Love his clean and detailed artwork! :)

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  14. I would love to have one. You have idea how much Flei for a tattoo? :)

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    1. Hi Ian! Go na! The price will depend on the size and complexity of the tattoo. Do you have a design already? Just PM me I can forward it to Haryboi and ask a quote :)

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  15. Amazing kaayo ang tattoo! Pero hadlok gihapon ko magpa-tattoo. Ma-amaze lang ko. :D Hahaha

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  16. Wow! He has great skills! I love his artwork! Very detailed! Thinking about having a tattoo or not. To be or not to be? Hmmm.......

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    1. Go na Chanel! :D I'll go with you when you get one! Or you can come with me when I get my second piece hahaha

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  17. Awesome interview. Awesome Artist. Nahan hinoon ko magpatatoo dah! Ikaw ly, asa imong tatoo?

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    1. Pagpa tattoo na Carlo XD hahaha. My tattoo is a back piece :D I'm getting another one before the year ends!

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  18. Wow! And he's from Cebu! Awesome! If ever magpa tattoo ko, niya jud tingae! Haha

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  19. I agree that tattoos are works of art. I badly want to have one even before pa. Haha. Badly want but still undecided. Kung ang iba dapat worth the pain, ako I'm thinking dapat worth my money. LOL.

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    1. Get one na Rei :D It's true that tattoos can get pricey depending on the size and design but the sense of empowerment and of being able to express yourself is priceless ;)

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