A talented nine-year-old girl may just be the world’s youngest professional tattoo artist, inking customers since she was a toddler.
Maya Lu from Tengen, South Germany, had her first try at a tattoo gun when she was just two years old, practising how to ink scribbles on her father’s feet.
Maya’s dad Lily Lu, who identifies as non-binary, is heavily tattooed and owns their own tattoo studio, art space, and modern temple for exclusive clients called Psyland 25, where Maya spent a lot of time growing up.
Lu’s extreme body modifications have earned them attention in the past, as they have tattooed eyeballs, ceramic teeth and a number of inked swastikas, which they say stand for peace and not Nazi beliefs.
Maya developed her skills over the years, and was able to learn various design techniques and soon mastered the use of the tattoo gun, which she now operates fully on her own without the help of her parents.
Maya’s dad said: “Me and some friends always shown her some little tricks and it was amazing to see her progression with the machine.
“She progressed like she’s done on paper. Over the years you could see how she start painting motives and then she started stencilling tattooing motives.
“She later on started earning different technics and using bigger and different needles.
“Also, she needed some help in the first years but now at nine years old she makes tattoos entirely on her own.
“It’s so crazy to see her sitting there and actually going through the full process by herself and making these big pieces in such a short time. And on top, the tattoos look very nice when they healed.”
At nine years old, Maya’s tattoo skills are already on par with other tattoo artists three times her age – but despite her incredible skills, Maya’s dad puts no pressure on her to pursue tattoo artistry but instead wants her to have fun and enjoy what she does.
They added: “I mean, it’s senseless to compare it with the average skills of a professional tattoo artist. But compared to how old she is and how fast and ‘clean’ she already tattoo, it is very impressive.
“And especially as she already tattooed many other tattoo artist and peoples who already have a lot of tattoo work, and I’ll be very proud to have a little piece from her.
“We will see what happens when she actually one day truly starts tattooing.
“But I actually don’t care what she does later on as I am also not a tattoo artist anymore. And I never felt the need to push her in my footsteps.”
They added: “I always tell her to do whatever she feels like and go for her dreams, and I think tattooing aren’t the worst skills for a backup to make a living in case everything else breaks away.”
Impressed by their daughter’s magnificent skills, Maya’s dad has enlisted her help in their tattoo studio where she now has her own little desk to work on designs for fun.
Maya’s dad, a well-known tattoo artist under the name Little Swastika (the Buddhist symbol of luck), said: “Maya grew up with heavily tattooed parents and is the daughter of a very known tattoo artist.
“So, tattooing was always around and she spends also some time in the tattoo studio.
“Actually, we never had a real tattoo studio. It always was and is more like a private gallery where very chosen peoples are getting tattooed.
“She always loved to hang around there till she claimed her own little corner in the middle of it where she has her workspace and table to paint and craft little things.
“So, it was just as normal as painting on paper for her and she had many adult ‘friends’ who all wanted a tattoo from her, and so she started making more and more work.”
But her parents said Maya runs the show and only does artwork when “she feels like it”, insisting how it can be quite difficult to get an appointment with her.
Her dad said: “It always depends on her mood. When she feels like tattooing than she does it.
“When she doesn’t, then she doesn’t. There were times she made designs and I had to find people she could do the motives on.
“My friends have asked her for a long time to get a tattoo and I even bribed her with candy and presents, but she never felt like and it took years before they finally got a piece.
“I mean she’s a child and she does this for fun. So, you can’t just come and get ink. It’s luck and everything has to fit. But when she likes you, your chances are big.”
The nine-year-old said: “I love monkeys and to work with the big needle. My favourite piece so far was the monkey I made on my friend Angelo. It was the one in the short movie.
She added: “I want say thank you to everyone who has a tattoo from me already, and I hope I find people who want to get big monkeys done with the big needle.”