Changing the image of tattoos
Tattoo artists will showcase their craft at the Singapore Ink Show
Eight years ago, Ms Flora Yong, then 19, got her first tattoo on her right forearm.
Today, the psychologist is in the process of removing it as she prepares to start her new job at a government hospital.
Now 27, Ms Yong, who is currently in private practice, said: "The hospital did not explicitly say my tattoo was not acceptable, but they requested I keep it covered.
"They were subtle. They gave me a name card and offered to write me a referral for reputable laser removal doctors."
The tattoo of the words "Always & Forever" was meant as a way for Ms Yong to connect with her godfather.
Ms Yong told The New Paper she decided to get the tattoo after her godfather died as she felt guilty about becoming increasingly less sad over his death.
Tattoo artist Ael Lim, 37, who inked Ms Yong's tattoos, sought to emphasise the value of tattoos beyond aesthetic pleasure.
Mr Lim said: "Tattoos should tell the world what you care about. It is just one of the many ways we can use to calibrate ourselves better - a medium to express ourselves."
Mr Lim, who owns Imagine Tattoo Studio, is one of about 160 artists who will be at the Singapore Ink Show from tomorrow to Sunday at the Suntec Convention and Exhibition Centre to showcase their craft.
The show, which aims to celebrate the versatility and diversity of body art, will be the largest gathering of international and local tattoo artists in Singapore.
Visitors can look forward to live tattooing sessions and tattoo competitions, and can view artwork done by tattoo artists.
Last year's inaugural show raised more than $6,000 for the Singapore Red Cross Society.
Although the organisers could not say how much the tattoo industry in Singapore is worth, it estimated that the industry has grown 30 per cent to 40 per cent from last year.
In contrast to Ms Yong, whose tattoo focuses on the past, Mr Yeo Lai Hock's tattoo looks ahead to the future.
Mr Yeo, 33, had a pocket watch tattooed on his left upper arm in Dec 2016 to immortalise his marriage. The time shown on the watch - 5.12 - represents May 12, his wedding date.
The commercial litigation lawyer said: "The watch symbolises the time I have spent with my wife.
"My marriage is a chapter in my life that I want to commemorate with permanence."
Although his tattoo is located at a part of his body that is easily covered, Mr Yeo believes it would not have been a problem for his clients.
Mr Yeo said: "A lot of my clients come to me, for me, because they look for something more than skin deep.
"It does not matter how I look on the outside - it is my mind and dedication to their cause that are more important to them."
Mr Paul Heng, founder of professional human resource services organisation, NeXT Career Consulting Group, said companies should be more open-minded about tattoos.
Mr Heng said: "As long as they are nothing offensive, tattoos should not be an element of consideration when deciding who to hire as what one does with his body is his own prerogative."
He added that it could even be considered discriminatory to judge people based on their looks.