A bizarre new tattooing trend has people covering large patches of their skin with solid black ink. These ‘blackout tattoos’ are all the rage in Singapore, with an increasing number of youngsters getting their arms, legs, and even portions of their torso, inked black.
Chester Lee, a tattoo artist at Oracle Tattoo studio in Singapore, is apparently an expert of sorts in blackout tattoos. His Instagram page features several photographs of completed works, earning him thousands of likes. Some of them are entirely black, while others consist of intricate black drawings of everyday objects or Gothic symbols on the negative space between black patches.
The arm pieces usually have a large portion of the skin blacked out, fading away at the edges. While some people have had a portion of their legs covered in black, others have gone all out with the ‘legging’ effect. A few have inked their entire bodies, with only slim lines of natural skin color showing through.
Lee, 29, revealed that he did “old-school” tattoos for several years and even won awards for his work, but eventually got bored “because of the boundaries that restrict the art itself.” So when he heard of blackout tattoos, he was intrigued by the trend and started suggesting them to his clients.
“I had been suggesting the blackout tattoos for massive cover-ups, and slowly letting people see the beauty in black work,” Lee said, speaking to People Magazine. “It’s an acquired taste. Slowly the new generation is appreciating the cleanliness of this kind of work, and the art of looking at just shapes and lines that emphasize the contours of the body.”
Linjojo’z, a Singaporean woman and one Chester’s earliest customers, initially started getting solid black tattoos to cover up old ones that she didn’t want anymore. But she liked the effect so much that she’s extended it to cover her entire chest and right arm. It ends with a scalloped design near the neck, creating the illusion of a black dress. She posted several photographs on Instagram as the tattoo was being made, showing how it effectively covered up a skull tattoo on her chest.
When asked if she would get a blackout tattoo on her other arm as well to complete the effect, Linjojo’z said she was quite happy with her current look. “I am happy with the way my tattoos look now!” she commented on Instagram.
Lee himself has a full arm, half his neck, a portion of his face, and even his eyeballs blacked out. Although his work has gained a lot of popularity on Instagram, he is by no means taking credit for starting the blackout tattoo trend. “There are the older pioneers that do super crazy work!” he said. “Everyone is unique to their form of black work, I’m just trying to create my own style.”
“It does not appeal to everyone. But maybe one day the common crowd will appreciate the beauty in the lines of black work.”