Tatt’who? My body-art story.

tattoo collage

I have four tattoos. This is the story of how I decided to get them and my experiences with getting them. Funny thing, people I meet always seem surprised that I have tattoos. This makes me wonder whether I look like I wouldn’t have them? But nowadays, I don’t think you would have a certain look to have tattoos, right? Don’t judge a book by its (tattooed) cover! 😉

Treble Clef and Rose

helene choo photoshoot tattoo

This was the first tattoo I got back in 2012. I wanted to get a tattoo that represented something I felt was a big part of my life. I feel very passionate about music, and having played instruments almost all my life, I wanted to immortalize that feeling. I also find a kind of harmony in the shape of the treble clef. It’s very rounded and balanced.

treble clef rose tattoo

I took a long time to decide where to get it, since I wanted to be able to cover it up if need be, but also show it if I felt like it. And, it being my first tattoo, I wanted to get it somewhere where it allegedly wouldn’t hurt too much. That’s why I went with the back of my shoulder, next to the bone.

I was quite nervous, since I didn’t know what to expect. I supposed I would describe the pain as similar to the feeling you get at the dentist’s, where it’s quite uncomfortable, but manageable. This one only took 30 minutes to complete, so it was very bearable.

It healed up really fast. Tattooists will usually put clingfilm on it to cover it up, which you’re supposed to leave on overnight. I did this, and then rinsed it with water in the shower. After patting it dry carefully I left it to air dry. After a day, it’ll usually start itching, at which point you SHOULD NOT TOUCH IT. So, being good and not touching it (I couldn’t reach it), it healed up after a week. When going into the sun, I’d put SPF50 sunscreen on to protect it. I stopped doing that after a year, because I couldn’t be bothered. Now it’s started to fade a little, but I quite like that look. Conclusion: if you don’t want your tattoo to fade quickly in the sun, put SPF50, waterproof sunscreen on it.

I got this at Q Tattoo in Sheffield, and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality-price ratio (£35), and how welcome they made me feel. They made me fill out an extensive questionnaire about my health, and the cleanliness was up to par.


helene choo dragon tattoo

This was the second tattoo I got, in 2014. As you can see, it’s a dragon. This time, I wanted to get something more ambitious. I was going through a rough time emotionally that year, so I wanted to get a tattoo that would remind me to be strong. I thought of different symbols of strength, and landed at the dragon. Due to my Asian heritage, it seemed like the perfect symbol. I really like how dragons represent strength, but also wisdom. Plus, I’d just finished reading “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”, so I was hoping to gain some of Lisbeth Salander’s badass-ness.

This one I got done at Frith Street Tattoo in London. This time, I’d done more extensive research, which paid off, since I really love the detail and shading on this tatt. I can really recommend the artistry at this studio, even though they often change artists, so I can only vouch for mine (sorry, forgot his name…). I would book a few weeks in advance though, because they get booked up very quickly! I feel like the value for money was good, even though it was quite expensive (£300), it covers my whole left side, and it is very intricate.

helene choo dragon tattoo

In terms of pain, this one was a b*tch!! It took two sessions of 1 hour and 30 minutes, respectively. The closer towards the stomach the needle went, the more painful it got. After the first session of an hour, I was sweating buckets and my leg started shaking uncontrollably. I almost didn’t go back the second time, but then I would’ve been left with a dragon-tail tattooed on my side! Not such a great look.

So I braved it and got it finished. And I couldn’t be happier with the result! Conclusion: if you want a tattoo that side on that spot, be 100% committed, because it is going to HURT. But the rewards are also great!

“Life is an adventure”

unnamed (7)

This one I got in 2016. It is also a reminder to start each day anew, and throw myself headfirst into the adventure that is life. During hard times, I like to look at it and tell myself that it’ll get better, and not to waste too much time being down about things that aren’t that important in the big picture.

This one was done at Inkstitution Rotterdam. I felt it was a bit too expensive (120€) for the size. It was well-executed though.

I was a bit stupid while letting this one heal, and scratched the top of it while it was scabbing (silly me!!). If you look very closely at the bird (don’t think you can see it in the pic), it has a few tiny white lines, where it was damaged.

Lesson learnt: NEVER scratch a tattoo while it is healing.

This tatt is on the inside of my left forearm. It’s a very comfortable place to get done, so if it’s your first tattoo, I highly recommend this spot. I barely felt anything during the half hour it took to get it inked.


helene choo ampersand tattoo

This is the latest tattoo that I got, 2 days ago (9th June 2017)! My friend and I got the same one. This was the most spontaneous decision out of all of them. I feel like the “&” represents a kind of unity. And just like the treble clef, it’s a nice, rounded symbol.

This one if at my right ankle, just above the bone. It took about 20 minutes to complete. The pain was medium, between shoulder/arm (not very painful) and side (very painful). The closer the tattooist went to the ankle bone, the more painful it was.

It seems to be healing quite well, it’s not been itching yet. I’ve been putting sunscreen on it as it’s been very sunny. In addition, I went running with it today and it seems fine. Normally, the tattooist will tell you not to exercise the first day (or for a week, depending on the size of the tattoo). I guess it’s up to you to check the state of your tatt and whether it seems safe to sweat.

helene choo ampersand tattoo

This one I got at Por Vida Tattoo in Madrid. They were very friendly and their pricing was reasonable (60€). Cleanliness up to par and didn’t have to get an appointment in advance. There are many parlors on Calle Fuencarral that have good reviews, so if you’re in Madrid, check them out!

Another note: my friend was puzzled that they made us sign consent forms. In my opinion, you should be careful about salons where they don’t make you sign those, and where there aren’t any visible cleanliness and health standard compliance certificates. After all, it is an invasive procedure, and you can get very sick from dirty or contaminated tattoo needles. Conclusion: take caution when choosing a tattoo parlour, and make sure their cleanliness is up to scratch.

I hope you enjoyed my article, and as always, send me a message if you have any questions or if you just want to chat!

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9 thoughts on “Tatt’who? My body-art story.

    1. Thank you so much! Was a bit out there with the topic with this one, glad that it resonated☺️☺️

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