Treated more as an aesthetic, instead of a language, Chinese characters have made an impact on visual cultures of the West. Westerners like to have Chinese tattoos without actually knowing the cultural context they carry, and sometimes even the actual meaning of the words.


To create an open dialogue on how the West is capitalizing on the “exotic charm” of the Chinese language, this pop-up store project presents a conceptual space that displays a series of tattoos that use original fonts and graphics that Niki designed. These tattoos play with the illegibility and exoticism of Chinese characters while selecting humorous phrases from popular culture and every day slang.


The audience is welcome to lounge around, purchase products with tattoo graphics, and apply the temporary tattoo stickers onto their body, while the artist Niki was playing the role of the shop assistant. The intention behind this interaction is to show how cultures can be reclaimed and repurposed by other cultural backgrounds and perspectives, sometimes creating a cultural disparity in which feeble attempts at understanding can promote misinterpretation and ignorance rather than transparency, respect, and clarity.

Show More

© Niki Li. All Rights Reserved.