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Armed with just a chopstick and a needle, Sarah Lu is one of the most sought after handpoke tattooists in the UK. But her inking hasn’t always been easy.

Daughter of first-gen Vietnamese immigrants, Sarah Lu had a flair for drawing but her parents wanted her to pursue a more secure career. So she wound up working in advertising.

After 15 years in the industry, she still felt the need to get more creative, so she jacked it all in and set off around the globe to learn the ancient art of handpoke tattooing. She steadily got to grips with the technique on basic designs, but felt the method was holding back her potential to go bigger. So she switched to an electric machine. “I tried three times and I couldn’t do it. I thought I’m not going to be able to tattoo these epic pieces, because of this bloody machine.”

But she didn’t give up. “I work better when things do hold me back. It makes me work 100 times harder.” Returning to stick ‘n’ poke, she set herself a mammoth task of completing an intricate raven, to prove she could super-size her work. After 50 hours needle in hand, cramped and exhausted, she finished. “I literally went from small and simple, to this massive piece and then all my work flew from there.”

The demand for freestyle tattooing keeps blowing up. There’s no stopping her now.




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