*I feel like I should start out with a disclaimer: I am not tattooed—at least not yet!
Growing up in an Asian household meant a curfew at 9 pm, eating before going out, no boys in my room, and no tattoos. I still have vivid memories of my mom tutting about an "otherwise handsome young man" who had "ruined" his body with a full sleeve. I don't blame her, though. In Vietnam having a tattoo usually meant you were involved in gang activities or other unscrupulous occupations. To my parents, tattoos were an unnatural addition to the natural canvas that was the body that we were given and until recently, I don't think they realized that not all tattoos are the same make and style. They were acquainted with the heavier Americana Ed Hardy-esque ink, or the colorful and thick-lined Buddhist tats that were popular in Vietnam, but remained blissfully unaware to a trend that has taken over the millennial generation by storm: minimalistic/dainty/line work ink.
It is here that I shamelessly plug two of my favorite shops/artists and their inspirational Instagrams for this kind of tattoo.
The first is Banul, a young Korean woman whose art and style are redefining what it means to have permanent ink, especially for women. With numerous articles written about her work, and how she is playing a part in sponsoring a revolution of femininity within her home country, her art is a beautiful as it is groundbreaking.
The second is Hailin Tattoo. Founded by Hailin Fu, one of China's top tattoo artists, this newly opened shop in the heart of Los Angeles specializes in traditional Chinese pieces, as well as skillful and dainty line work. With an upcoming TV show, and a following of artists like Mija and friends, Hailin Tattoo is quickly becoming a hot spot for both trendy and historical ink. The shop consists of 4 main tattooists and several interns; each has their own distinct styles. My personal favorites are the misses of the house, Gloria, and her elaborate pieces, as well as Shu, whose line work of flowers and other themes leaves little to be desired.
Here are some of my favorites:
tattoo_cats on Instagram: “: 🦌✨ . . . #Tattooistbanul #타투이스트바늘 Via: -@tattooist_banul #tattooist_banul #tattoo”
@tattoo_inkboys on Instagram: “: Meow 🐱 . . #Tattooistbanul #타투이스트바늘 Via: -@tattooist_banul #tattooist_banul #tattoo”
Robin Lim on Instagram: “#newtattoo #무궁화꽃 #문신 #hailintattoo #flowertattoo by Shu :)”
Gloria Zhang on Instagram: “Unique #singleneedle #singleneedletattoo #blackworkers…”
Hailin Tattoo Studio on Instagram: “Thousand-Hand Guan Yin tattoo done by @gloriatattoo #hailintattoo #guanyingzhang #guanyin #guanyingtattoo #guanyintattoo #blacktattoo…”
Hailin Tattoo Studio on Instagram: “Line Work Flower done by Gloria. @gloriatattoo #🌹#hailintattoo #hailintattoostudio #hailintattooshop #losangelestattoo #flowertattoo…”
Tattoos are intimate, and they are definitely not something to be gotten on a drunk Friday night out. However, it doesn't have to be a huge and crazy thing. Tattoos, like people, exist in different sizes and shapes, and if you're open to it, there will be one out there for you.