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Thursday, August 11, 2016

NEW TATTOO: My first color ink!

Welp... *cue hiatus apologies*


Before we begin, let's go over some of the background information about the hannya mask. Many around me mistaken it to be just some demon's face, and while I admit the hannya is still badass, it's not a any old demon face.


According to thehannyamask.com, the hannya mask is used in Japanese Noh theatre.
In Noh theater, the Hannya Mask was used to depict a female character who has been betrayed by her love and is then possessed with thoughts of jealousy, rage and hatred which transform her into a demon form. A typical Hannya Mask has 2 horns which emerge from it's head, sharp teeth and scowling eyes to show the anger and fury of a heartbroken woman.

The design of the mask itself caught my attention back in high school, and as time went by I felt that I could relate to this 'character'. Not that my love betrayed me, but that jealousy and envy are one of my dominant traits, and jealousy/envy is never pretty.


Anyway, I enlisted the help of Yang Lee, after pretty much just Googling 'best oriental tattoo KL'. And it so happens that I actually stumbled upon the studio itself during a night-time ramen date with the girls during university, so I took it as a sign of fate. From a little more digging, Yang Lee turned out to be an artist who won awards in tattoo competitions.


I went in for a consultation after some exchange on WhatsApp, and after plotting the size for the tattoo and discussing some details, I waited for the sketch from the master Yang Lee himself. I requested a mask that felt more feminine than demon-like, because I somehow wanted to portray the vulnerability of a woman who feels insecure enough to feel jealous/envious enough to become demon-like.

A photo posted by Yang Lee (@yangleetattoo) on


I loved the design, and was so excited. There was some hiccups in between getting the sketch and getting the tattoo actually done, but I made an appointment for 12pm on 4 March. After prepping, signing some forms (you're required to sign a form that gives the studio/artist official permission to put ink on you, mostly procedural stuff), and then Yang Lee went about sizing the stencil and applying it to the skin.




Inking officially started at 13:47, after he added some extra flowers behind the mask with a Sharpie. The first session was just for lining and shading, and boy did it look good even just in black and gray.


For aftercare, I was given Tattoo Goo, which by the way, smells amazing! It's almost like cocoa butter heaven, but not completely cocoa butter. It contains olive oil, beeswax, and cocoa butter as the main ingredients. My previous tattoo artists gave me just a small sachet of of A+D ointment, which I never got round to finishing, and they also wrapped up my freshly done tattoo with a layer of gauze, a layer of saran, then asked me to remove the bandages after about 2 hours and rinse with warm water. Yang Lee only applied a thin layer of Tattoo Goo and sent me on my way.


Pro tip for tattoos: just do whatever your artist tells you to do for aftercare - different artists may have different approaches, but mostly unless you have vast experience with tattoo aftercare, just listen to what they say and you won't regret it.




Anyway, about 2 months later, I was actually a little hesitant to whether I actually wanted color on the tattoo, cuz it just looked so good just as is already! But I went ahead to make another appointment anyway despite my doubts.




The process took about 4 hours, including a little break in between. Guest spotting there was the amazing Andrew Ong from The Skin Canvas Tattoo, Penang. Andrew specializes in hyperrealism tattoos, and his works are just amazing! Above was the piece that he was working on while my hannya was being colored in.



I walked away with my first color tattoo at around 6pm... *cue scrolling*



Right after this, I went for an overnight trip to Fraser's Hill (waterfalls and bike rides), and then attended the Wayang Kulit Tattoo Show, where both Yang Lee & company, and Andrew & company had booths, along with several other talented artists from various studios in and around Malaysia.


This is my first time getting a tattoo that took so long to complete - my first took about 2-4 hours (RIP both artist Telwin's and my spine), and the 2nd one took all but 15 minutes (considering getting another one done by Ying). This was a total of about 10-12 hours in two sessions.


The FAQ that I get the most is 'doesn't it hurt???' It takes more than I'd like to admit to just blurt of a sarcastically cynical comment, because all tattoos hurt to a certain degree (depending on individual pain threshold), but yeah, this particular tattoo hurt A LOT. Why? The thigh is a pretty sensitive area (although many people say fattier areas of the body hurt less), and my tattoo extends to almost the back of the thigh, where the skin is even more sensitive.




It bled a lot, too. Before they shot the final reveal and during breaks, blood and plasma just kept oozing through the petroleum jelly. The lining and shading session didn't produce much swelling, but right after the color went on, my entire thigh was swollen to the point of borderline pain for a couple fo of days before the skin hardened into a crust like texture.


Overall, I would really recommend going to Yang Lee if you were looking for some good oriental designs. Though he has his own style of drawing, he almost never disappoints with the quality of the work.


The other artists Newjack and Brandon also produces really detailed needlework in various art styles - from chibi to traditional, from tribal to floral.


After using up my Tattoo Goo, I got myself some After Inked ointment from My Tattoo Supply in replacement of tattoo aftercare.


While Tattoo Goo is an oil-based ointment, After Inked is more of a cream-based product. Apart from the lack of the layer of oily film that I would get after applying Tattoo Goo, I also noticed that the tattooed area did not itch after I applied After Inked, as opposed to the constant itch that I would get after applying Tattoo Goo.


In hindsight, I should have taken a few more days off work for the first few days of healing to allow maximum color-stay effect.

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