Life Wellbeing Back in black: the tattoo trend sweeping the web
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Back in black: the tattoo trend sweeping the web

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They’re the latest body art sensation – ‘blackout’ tattoos are taking the internet by storm.

Last week Singapore tattoo artist Chester Lee posted the above image on his Instagram page, and it has created something of a ripple.

On first inspection the work looks like body paint – something you might see in a gothic version of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition – but is actually the result of an accumulated 20 hours, spread “over a couple of months”, with a tattoo needle.

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This is not a technique for the fainthearted.

A back piece from Chester Lee, Oracle Tattoo, Singapore. Photo: Instagram
A back piece from Chester Lee, Oracle Tattoo, Singapore. Photo: Instagram

Blackout tattoos are most commonly used when a person wants to cover existing artwork they are no longer smitten with, but Mr Lee and others have started to use the method as a means of artistic expression.

The results are, if nothing else, striking.

Ben Thomson, manager of Fremantle tattoo and body piercing studio Modern Ink, said the practice is not new, but is increasing in popularity.

“It’s something that’s always been around,” Mr Thomson told The New Daily.

“We do definitely get a lot of people who are interested in doing it.

“We’ve blacked out quite a few entire limbs.

“Sometimes you’ll get people who’ll do negative space stuff. So, it’ll be solid black with a very small amount of skin that is not tattooed to make lines in the black.

“Other things we’ve been doing is solid black work, then throwing white work over it: patterns, designs into the black – it’s like a negative, very unique.”

Mr Thomson said the technique is deceptively tricky, and usually requires multiple sessions.

“Generally you can’t do it in one sitting, it’s depending on the size of the area,” he said.

“When you’re packing solid black you’ve got to be so attentive to how you’re packing it in because if you don’t do it properly it’ll heal really inconsistently and it’ll end up quite patchy.”

A forearm tattooed by Allan Tuul, Modern Ink Fremantle. Photo: Instagram
A forearm tattooed by Allan Tuul, Modern Ink Fremantle. Photo: Instagram

Modern Ink artist Allan Tuul has performed several ‘blackout’ tattoos, and Mr Thomson said the results can be very powerful.

“There are particular people who really enjoy that work,” he said.

“If you were to go to the wrong tattooist that could do a pretty horrible job if they don’t pack it correctly, but if you go to the right person it can look great.

“I know that Allan really enjoys it.”

But should you opt for the black-on-black look, you had better be sure it’s exactly what you want.

Dr Ehsan Jadoon, a cosmetic physician whose clinic Medaesthetics offers laser tattoo removal, says it is “almost impossible” to remove a solid black tattoo over a large area.

“It is very difficult and very, very painful to remove that sort of ink,” Dr Jadoon told The New Daily.

“The ink is so dense that the body just doesn’t have the ability to metabolise it and remove it.

“And it can cost, per session, anywhere between $600 all the way to $1200 depending on what sort of laser is being used.”

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