Hazel kept her first tattoo a secret for almost a year. When she finally revealed it to her mum, she was met with a roaring response. But Hazel was determined to follow her own path and tattoos helped secure this independence. Keep reading to find out how ...

What originally drew you to tattoos?

It started in my teenage days. It's so cliche to say this, but it was seeing art on a walking skin. Back in those days, not a lot of people had them, or if they did it would usually be hidden. So whenever I would see people with unusual body modifications I'd say "someday, I'm gonna be like that too!"

I grew up as a shy girl, and seeing those types of people gave me the vibe of how badass and confident they were just by having some ink on them. Being eccentric and an outcast to society's standards of beauty was also beautiful for me. Other than that, having to sit and be patience, experience those needles run deep in your skin, endure the pain for hours, was also something I found beautiful.

How did you feel after getting your first prominent tattoo?

I was raised in a very religious and conservative home. Body modification was like an abomination. I felt like the outcast of the family, because the things I liked weren't considered "Christian". Like listening to punk rock music or wearing black all the time. Fast forward to young adulthood and taking my own path away from religion, I finally decided to get my first tattoo at 22. I was scared, but felt like a daredevil at the same time. Doing something permanent, no turning back and without any parental advisory.

It changed my perspective on being a young adult and making ‘huge’ decisions on my definite own self. It was a moment I first felt I was in control of something so precise and permanent. I hid it for almost a year without letting any of my family know about it. The first family member I revealed it to was my mom. She was so upset. Filipino moms tend to be overly dramatic. She was so mortified, she wasn't talking to me for almost a week. When she finally ‘accepted’ them, she lectured me again for another week on how it was the worst idea I could have ever thought of. The funny thing is, I'm 27 now and she still acts shocked when I show her a new one and re-lectures me like it’s the first time all over again. I give her a kiss and she calms down, and we're all good again. Till the next one!

Can you tell me about the significance of your chest tattoo?

It’s a traditional inspired piece called Kalinga from the famous Filipino tattoo artist Whang-Od. The idea of it actually came from my tattoo artist Agelos TFB from Honest Tattoo. He mentioned wanting to do this style to a person that was originally from the Philippines. Getting a piece inspired by Whang-Od and getting it done from a friend was really a momentous moment. I immediately said yes. And the result speaks for itself. I have people come up to me and think that I'm wearing a garment or something. It's by far one of my most favourite and I walk around showing it off with pride.

When people meet you for the first time, what part of your personality might they find reflected in your tattoos?

Just like my tattoos, that I don't have only one category of style, I have a mix of everything. They tell me they didn't expect that. From my physical appearance they just see this Asian girl filled with tattoos. They ask if I'm a tattoo artist first. I really wished I was. But when conversations start, vibes are important for me, depending on that, I can be the shy one, the crazy one, the boring one. It's all in the vibe you get with the other person. My personal favourite first impression is when I mention that I have an eight-year-old daughter. They're like "Well, Didn't expect that."

How have tattoos impacted the way people relate to you in the workplace?

Having tattoos sometimes limits you in work, but for me it was different. I got more attention, sometimes way more than I expected. My first job was in the retail store H&M. I looked really ‘edgy’ and I stood out a lot at work, which was a big advantage. I started as a sales lady, then got promoted to be a visual merchandiser later on.

Having a lot of visible tattoos and working in a space where you have family and kids come in and out was very eye-catching for them. I'd see kids stare at me and ask what kind of markers I use and if I could wash them off. I would have old people look at me in a discreet way, and wonder what the hell is this girl doing with the mannequins. Other people would come up and ask if they can actually look at my tattoos and ask the story behind it. Out of work, strangers and sometimes even relatives say "you'll never get a good-paying job" , but when I tell them where I used to work, they get thrown off guard.

If you could change something about the way tattoos are perceived what would it be?

That tattoos mean bad news. Like I mentioned earlier, being raised in a home with very a conservative family, being 27 with an eight-year-old daughter sometimes can be challenging! But I have been blessed with many different kinds of opportunities and life experiences regardless. When I talk to people and tell them about my life, suddenly it’s not about my tattoos anymore, it’s just me. People believe that tattoos limit you in life when it’s the opposite. You are the limit to yourself. I tell them if I lived life by the opinions of people or the standards of what society says about how a woman should look, I wouldn't have reached this far and been the person I am today.

How would you describe your tattoos in three words?

Avant-garde, un-label-able, characters.

❤ Featured artists ❤
Agelos TFB

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