Plain skin: Not just a canvas, it’s real estate for tattoo artists

Esther posing for a photo while a tattoo artist works on her shin.

By DayakDaily reporter

KUCHING, April 5: “You really never had a tattoo before?” – a question that kept coming up as I walked along the rows of stalls in the Dayak Bidayuh National Association (DBNA) hall during the Kuching International Tattoo Expo 2024 that took place today.

With each inquiry, my apprehension toward getting inked faded, replaced by a tantalizing temptation as the blank canvas of my skin yearned to be adorned.

As I navigated the stalls, tattoo artists beckoned with their creativity, offering to transform my skin into a living storybook. Despite the allure, I resisted.

The area simply oozed with creative energy; a plethora of stalls, each adorned with artists whom are ready to wield their unique talents at a moment’s behest.

From lineart tattoos that danced its single-lined elegance to hyperrealism pieces that seemed to breathe with life; it has everything a tattoo enthusiast could ever dream of. It was a haven where dreams met ink, and the possibilities were as vast and varied as the artists themselves. Oh, how they reeled me in.

Regrettably, in spite of their enticing calls, I turned them all down.

Then I encountered Esther, a 70-year-old Australian woman with a blank canvas akin to mine, except she was actively seeking an artist to bring her skin to life with ink. Actually, not just one—but as many as she could.

With determination in her eyes, she went from stall to stall, her gaze lingering on the myriad of stencils they had on display, on a quest to find the one artist whom she would give the honour to draw upon her skin.

When I spotted her once more in the outdoor hall, she was already reclined on the floor as a Kalimantan tattoo artist meticulously crafted designs on her skin. She was already getting her second ink, in a traditional method no less. How amazing, I thought.

Esther told me that she wants to have as many tattoos she possibly could to serve as a collection of permanent souvenirs that she could proudly show her friend.

“I might as well. With me turning 70 and all, I thought why not?” she said, and with that simple statement, Esther came close to igniting the desire I had to have a tattoo of my own.

Still, I refused and I’m not too sure if I should be impressed or disappointed with that streak of stubbornness.

Nevertheless, I extended my congratulations to Esther for embracing her decision, and bade the expo farewell with my still blank canvas, though with a slight twinge of regret lingering in my heart.

Perhaps someday, I will get an ink—a little memoir that I could keep forever.  — DayakDaily