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Helen Xu: Golden Iron Tattoo


If you know me, you know that I am a huge fan of delicate/dainty styled tattoos – I just love fine lines and wispy details. I’ve been waiting and searching for the perfect artist to create this style for my second tattoo and I was lucky enough that my boyfriend found Helen’s page on Instagram around March/April. From then I’ve just been following her and became a huge fan of her work.

I booked an appointment with her mid May and was able to get a spot for June 4th. When I came in, she already had my design drawn up from a reference photo I showed her before. It looked better than how I imagined with the soft red shading and pointed petals (which she remembered I liked!), I especially loved the way she drew the stem.

Now for the process which I know first timers are most curious about. Before I got my first tattoo, I was most concern with the pain. So let me address this from my perspective (as a very fragile and weak asian girl’s POV haha).

I’ve only had one other tattoo done, and it was a very quick and simple moon design that is placed on the front side of my arm. With that being said, the moon tattoo was actually very painful to me, despite how simplistic it was. I have zero tolerance for pain, I literally find everything painful because I’m obviously a very weak person haha. However, when I was getting this rose tattoo, there was almost no pain.

Here is what you have to keep in mind. The placement of your tattoo will strongly affect the amount of pain you will experience. Skin is very thin and sensitive in the front, which makes it a lot less tolerable when I was getting my moon tattoo. The back of my arm is more fleshy, which likely diffused most of the pain. Now, as someone who has zero pain tolerance, I can honestly say it was surprisingly painless for the first hour. To use an example, it felt like someone was drawing with a sharpen pencil that was constantly vibrating. As the session wore on, it did started to hurt a bit more, but still nothing unbearable – just noticeable. As if the sharpen pencil was just digging in deeper. I also noticed that different type of needles gave off different sensation. The single point needle is my least favourite because it has a stingy sort of feeling. Thicker needles seemed to spread out the pain which makes it feel a lot better. But again, it wasn’t unbearable to begin with. But this is just reference to keep in mind, everyone will experience it differently. Currently my boyfriend is in the process of a full back piece, currently done 4/5 sessions which are about 7 hours each. He is someone who can barely understand the concept of pain, but with a piece that big done in such long hours – even he experience some heavy discomfort from tattooing.

All in all for me, it was a very easy and comfortable session. Helen was amazing, letting me know what she was doing along the way, offering water to me and my boyfriend, and letting me know I can take breaks whenever I needed it. There is no doubt that she will be doing all of my future tattoos, I absolutely adore everything about her.

To take a look at her Instagram page Click Here – you can also DM her or email her at Helenxuxwt@gmail.com for inquiries on her work. Here are some examples of the pieces on her Instagram that I’ve been admiring since I first started following her.

The tattoo studio I went to was Golden Iron Tattoo Studio, located at Downtown Toronto. It’s a small studio in the middle of China Town. When I first walked in, I was surprised by how busy it was, but I could definitely see why. The staff were all really nice, they all seem to be very comfortable with each other, always making jokes and laughing. Overall I had a great experience here, I loved how my rose turned out and I absolutely recommend Helen Xu if you are looking to do delicate and feminine styled pieces!

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