How old were you when you got your first tattoo and do you remember what motivated you to get it?
I knew I wanted a tattoo from about the age of 16, so spent the intervening time till it was legal (18) thinking about and working on the design. I had bought Incubus's CD Morning View and in the flyer there were photographs of the band with these beautiful tattoos. It was the first time I thought that tattoos could be beautiful and I loved the idea of using your body like a canvas. I also wanted to do something a bit rebellious to mark the transition into adulthood.
A lot of people get pre-designed tattoos from tattoo artists. You designed your tattoo yourself and I'm wondering if that was important for you?
I always considered that getting a tattoo was something deeply symbolic and personal to that person. As I had always drawn and been creative from a young age, I knew I wanted to have control over the design and exactly what it looked like. I just kept playing with the design until I found something I was happy with.
Can you tell us what your tattoo symbolises?
I was born in November and so am under the Scorpio zodiac sign. I always felt the characteristic of a Scorpio fitted me very well and expressed the kind of person I am. My lucky number is 9 and so I incorporated 9 petals into the design. I had always imagined that I would keep adding to the tattoo as I aged and had new experiences. About three years later I added the two tendrils with the oriental flowers to represent my mixed Asian-European heritage. I plan to add a mandala above to symbolise my recent experiences living and travelling in South East Asia. So the tattoo will constantly be growing and changing.
How did your parents react to your tattoo?
I only recall my mother's reaction. When I told her over the phone she was horrified - how could I do that to my body? But when she saw my tattoo, after getting over her initial shock, she found it beautiful.
Do you think you'll continue to get tattoos?
Yes, I will continue to extend my existing tattoo and may add some in other areas. The hardest part is coming up with the right designs that feel as right as the first one.
Is there anything you've discovered about yourself through the process of thinking about and getting tattoos?
I feel it merely expresses how I generally tackle challenges in my life: I think about the idea for a while and eventually the pressure builds up so much that one day I will just jump and do it!
When you look at your tattoo today how does it make you feel?
It has become completely part of my body. I don't look at it and think, oh that's my tattoo, it's just a part of my body like my hair or my arms. I am always a bit surprised when people ask me about my tattoo because I tend to forget it's there.