Getting A Tattoo

By Ian Chow, Certified Massage Therapist / Infant Massage Instructor / Oncology Massage Trainer

Length: 3.5 mins read (775 words)

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Some may say that I am having mid life crisis that influence my decision but I have been wanting to get a tattoo for the longest time. I always admire people with tattoo. Some carry it extremely well too with the nice visual they have chosen. It is a very intricate piece of art.

After trying out with some tattoo stickers and encouragement from some of my friends, I finally muster up enough courage to make an enquiry on my preferred design and it’s pricing, subsequently an appointment.

I got in touch with three tattoo studios, Wayang Kulit Tatu, Black Cat Tattoo and Electric Dreams Tattoo. I didn’t get any response from Black Cat so that was cross out immediately from my list. Wayang Kulit and Electric Dreams, both handle my enquiry promptly and professionally. I chose the latter mainly because of the location.

On the day of the appointment, as soon as I opened the door to the studio, I was greeted by my artist, Ayl. Before that, I do have to pay a minimal deposit to secure the booking. Then I filled up a registration form and Ayl started talking to me about the design, the placement, the process and my potential future plan; Cos the design that I chose will hinder any future full sleeve design that I may want. He was basically ensuring that I am certain with my decision (done respectfully and not hard selling anything).


I chose “3 lines” design on both right and left forearm. On my right arm, the small line represent my children, the upper complete bold line represent my wife and the middle incomplete bold line represent me (the imperfect me hence the broken line)

On my left, same representation for the lines with the children in the middle then my wife and I encircling (protect) them. At the end, our life will still intersect (connect) hence the X.

In terms of the process, the stenciling did take a while to get the perfect lines. No pain at all during this process with only slight soreness from standing still in same position for a while. The working environment in the studio is very chill, helpful and encouraging within all the artistes, warm and friendly. As a first timer and someone who is very afraid of needle, this certainly put me at ease.


After the stenciling, Ayl spray a solution on the area so that the marker ink will stick and have to wait around 10 minutes for it to be dried. Then, the real deal comes…..the actual needling. Is it painful? Obviously but it is bearable on the body part that I chose. How does the pain feel like? I described it as a combo of constant jolt of electricity passing through me mixed with a sharp object scratching me continuously.

You can always take a break if it is too much to bear. Plus, there is also a constant few seconds break every now and then when the artist has to refill the ink. It feels almost like “water colouring for adult”. Lol. I do feel more painful when the needle is on area that is more muscular and lesser when it is closer to my bony area. Note: This may differ from individual to individual.

For the needling, for my design, Ayl firstly did the outline then only the shading (I chose all black). Maybe by then I am more used to the pain, I felt that the shading process is more bearable than the outline.


The whole process from start to finish took about 2 to 3 hours per arm. After the needling is done, Ayl sanitise the tattooed area, clean me up and took a photo. This is followed by the final step of cling wrapping that area so it is not exposed on my way home later.

Ayl also explained all the tattoo after cares including to constantly apply thin layer of balm, don’t peel the scabs off, don’t scratch and 2 weeks of no heavy workout on affected part, no sauna and no swimming pool. Basically have to treat it as an open wound until it is healed. I didn’t use balm but I use essential oil.

For the first few applications, I use a mixture of tea tree, lavender, geranium and lemon. Then after that, I use a mixture of frankincense and helichrysum with coconut oil as base.

Well, I have endure the pain and I have something meaningful embedded in me now. Like my friend, Michael Voon said to me, “Visual signs of love tattooed and extended on the arms, a gift to self that will continue giving to others especially most loved ones”.


Published by

Ian Chow 周 奕 延

Your personal massage therapist

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