Against The Grain

Against The Grain

Story by: Shariffah Nur Alawiyah

Photos by: Chester Lee 

Piercings, tattoos and cosmetic surgeries are just a few forms of body modifications that have taken the world by storm. These are just the tip of the iceberg for those interested in the art of body modification. It is an art form typically common among the younger generation although it has existed from the ancient times in the vast number of cultures and traditions around the globe.

Body modifications or ‘body mutilation’ as detractors would call it, have evolved over the years and have since been adopted by many. Scleral tattooing is one that has gained popularity over the years in several countries, including Singapore. It is considered to still be in its experimental stages and involves injecting a dye in the sclera, which is the white part of the human eye. Chester Lee, 29, a Singaporean tattoo artist is believed to be the first one here to get the irreversible procedure done.

“I wanted to do it just because I adore the idea of it,” said Chester when asked the reason why he went through with it.

He added, “It is just one of those things you want to do and just do it.”

Chester contacted an American body modification artist, Luna Cobra to get the scleral tattooing done in Australia. Otherwise known as Howie, he is the pioneer of scleral tattooing and is considered to be one of the best body modification experts internationally.

Many of these procedures have huge risks. Scleral tattooing, in particular, bears the risk of one being blind in addition to the massive cut in career opportunities. Luna Cobra even warns his clients before going forward with the procedure.

Chester is also a tattoo artist with the Singapore Oracle Tattoo, specialising mainly in black-work, patterns and dot-work. His works have garnered attention and publicity across the globe given his meticulous detailing and expertise.

Oracle Tattoo, owned by Bradley Tan, specialises in many different tattoo styles like illustration, Japanese and hyperrealism in either black and grey or colour. They have been the choice of many in Singapore due to their professionalism and highly sought after tattoo styles.

In spite of the daily judgements that Chester receives, he mentioned that he has looked pass that. His friends and family were shocked upon seeing his tattooed eyeball but have since accepted and gotten used to it.

“I always think that body modifications are just an expression of one’s self. A sense of identity and a way to portray an image of yourself to others,” Chester mentioned.

He strongly believes that everyone should be given the freedom to do what they desire but added that one should take the responsibility of consulting a professional and conduct proper research before diving into any of the body modification procedures.

Chester is still looking into other forms of body modifications and has planned on getting a few more done, including scarification in the near future. His last piece of advice for the masses is to not take social norm as a benchmark.

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