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Styled Shoot: Beyond Her Skin
Tattoos are slowly losing their negative connotations; once used as marks for prisoners, sailors and military, as well as a symbol of status and rites of passage for aborigines, people now ink messages and images on their bodies for personal reasons. It is beauty in itself, and we want to, well, show some skin.
We featured my gorgeous friend Jana and her husband Samuel, a tattoo artist, in Real Weddings several years ago. Together, we wanted to do a shoot featuring a model with a full body of tattoos, but who better to be the model than Jana herself? So, this time, she put herself in front of the camera, while Richard Chen, her friend and fellow photographer, lensed the shoot. We asked Jana why she started inking her body.
“My tattoos are mainly ethnic because I’m collecting tattoos from different cultures. So there are no specific reasons for my tattoos. It’s more cultural than personal.”
Does she know if there are any meanings behind each tattoo she chose then? “For some, they are some kind of mark for a rite of passage, and others are purely for beauty. I guess it is deeply connected to my traveling and living in Asia. My squares on my left arm are there because I liked how they look, but all these black work evolved from ethnic tattoos. Same goes for the dotwork and geometric stuff. I also have a lot of bamboo tattoos. All done in the traditional style,” says Jana.
You’d think this mother of almost-two would be done for now. She’s not. “There’s this old lady in the Philippines. Her name is Whang-Od and she is the last Kalinga tattoo artist. It’s a long way in a rural village in the Philippines and then you’ll have to camp there for a week to wait your turn. I need to get a tattoo from her before she dies.”
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