It’s the permanent mark of protest.
Demonstrators taking to the streets of Hong Kong in record numbers are also finding a hip way to visualize their dissent — with protest tattoos.
Artists in the city say they have been inundated with requests for ink that includes symbols of outrage, including gas masks, goggles, flags and umbrellas, according to the South China Morning Post.
One popular design manipulates the Chinese characters for “Hong Kong” — which when viewed from the side spell “ga yau,” or “add oil,” a phrase used by protesters to express encouragement.
Graphic designer Kyo Chen, who came up with the protest image, said he was “shocked and moved” to see it becoming permanent on people’s bodies.
Tattooist Zada Lam added to the paper that he has tattooed his own art of an umbrella on “70 to 80” people for free, filling his Instagram feed with photos.
“When I look at it, I feel pride and solidarity,” said one of his clients, calling herself Weeze, who has the design on the top of her right arm.
“It’s in the place I touch with my left hand when I’m shocked or moved by something,” said the 36-year-old charity worker.
However, she stressed that she was careful to get the ink somewhere it could easily be covered, saying, “It’s just a tattoo, but I didn’t want the attention.”
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Restaurant worker Sage Victor, a 19-year-old man originally from LA, had a tattoo that referenced the “tank man” icon from 1989’s Tiananmen Square atrocity. The term refers to the protester who refused to move when facing down government tanks.
Victor called it a “way for me to remember the struggles Hong Kong has had and the fight it is still going through.”
“I wanted something to remember that passion and drive all these people have for this one place,” he told the paper.
“It represents the idea of never forgetting to fight for what you believe in, as well as the love and pride people have for a city they may not even have been born in.”
Tattooist YC Carl Lee said customers are proud to be further united by the designs.
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“The identity, the sense of belonging, has never been so strong,” he told the paper.