The upside to jagua tattoos? The body art done with fruit-based dyes and no needles is temporary. The downside? The ink comes only in a blue-black shade. Feeling limited, 24-year-old Ng See Min – reportedly Singapore’s first jagua tattoo artist – decided to expand her craft a year ago using something more familiar: makeup.
Literally treating the face as a canvas, the “self-taught home studio hermit” paints fantastic imagery with an ethereal, watercolour-like quality, drawing inspiration from Renaissance art, Greek mythology and, of course, tattoos. “There’s so much precision in Renaissance art and Greek statues,” she explains. “I love that their beauty withstands time and space as they’re appropriated lots in pop culture and in the world of tattoos. The colours and softness of oil paintings amaze me too, which explains my obsession with blending.”
The results are akin to Ng’s sophisticated neo-traditional jagua tattoos brought to life with the likes of neon eyeshadows and lipsticks of every shade. (Think a friendly, candy-coated alternative to the edgy, photorealist works of the Gucci-approved artist John Yuyi, for whom temporary tattoos are a medium.) It helps that she’s been a makeup buff since she was a teen.
“People often have the wrong perception that the more makeup one piles on, the lower one’s self-esteem is without it,” she says. “I want to use makeup to prove that it does not define one’s worth and that we can do whatever we want with it.”
For now, drawing up temp tattoos remains a full-time job with face painting just a hobby, but here’s hoping that’ll change soon. The woman knows makeup. Ask for her favourite blending tools and she rattles off a list of brushes and sponges from various insider brands before reminding: “The most organic brush in the world is my ring finger.”
Photography Vee Chin Art Direction Jonathan Chia Hair for Ng & model Leong Lim, using Tokio Inkarami Makeup for Ng Priscellia Wong, using Nars Cosmetics Model Maria Eskis/Mannequin
This story first appeared in the November 2019 issue of FEMALE.