My Kemang : SHARON ROSE LEASA

A body artist specializing in tattoos sheds light on the subculture

Body art became popular in Kemang in the late 1990s, with the arrival of backpackers and skateboarders who made body piercings and tattoos as common as clothing accessories. Today, Kemang is still the place to go for quality tattoos and piercings. Sharon Rose Leasa is a body modification artist at Skin Media Studio in Kemang and a member of Indonesian Subculture, a body art organization founded by Indonesian tattoo artist Ucha Cyberborg

How long have you been a tattoo artist? 
I’m not a tattoo artist. What I do is body art, which has always been my hobby, and I just happen to be into body modification, also known as piercing and tattooing. I’ve been working as a body artist for about two years, learning mostly from my friends.

Okay, so have you ever given a tattoo to anyone?
Yes, of course, I’ve tattooed many people, but I don’t do it every day. For me, tattooing is artwork. It’s another media of expression, just like paper, canvas or TV.

How do people react under the needle when you give a tatoo?
Usually someone who wants to get a tattoo kind of knows what to expect. It’s painful Photo dissy eKaPramuditabut the excitement usually tops that. Before I start the whole process, I always do a small line, to see how they react. Then I ask them if that feels alright before I continue.

Do you think a tattoo has to be meaningful?
Well, that depends on the person, but I would suggest getting something meaningful because that way you won’t get bored of it and you will have a story behind it.

So what do your tattoos mean to you?
Well, I was really close to my father when he was alive. Some of my tattoos are for him. I have his name on my right arm, and his zodiac which is a tiger on my left forearm. The flowers behind it remind me of him as well, because when I was little my dad always commented on these particular flowers.

Which part of the body is the most painful place to get a tattoo? 
On my foot, that was the most painful for me because it’s just bone. When I did the henna tattoo on my left foot, it was more of an experience to see how painful it is. I finished it, but if you look closer you’ll see it’s a bit chaotic.

Recently, your other half, Andy Besi, pierced your back and made it into a corset at a Subculture event in Kemang. Did that hurt?
Not at all, he’s a great artist and knows exactly where to pierce. In fact, I didn’t bleed at all. I believe that was the first time this was done in Indonesia.

Do you have any certain rules that you follow?
Whatever I do, there’s no limit. Once I get into something, I want to do it to the max.

What is Kemang to you?
Kemang is family. We are all family under Indonesian Subculture.

What’s Indonesian Subculture?
Indonesian Subculture is a body art community founded in 2004 by ucha Cyberborg. We started with 25 members from Jakarta, Bandung, Bali and Jogjakarta. Today, there are more than 170 members all around Indonesia, who consist of tattoo artists and body piercing artists. My group is based here in Kemang at Skin Media Studio

What’s the main purpose of the club?
Basically, we grant certification to body artists who are qualified to practice and uphold certain standards of body modification, including hygiene and safety. We also have regular events and gatherings to showcase skin art.

Do you think tattoos are becoming more acceptable in Indonesia?
In major cities they are, but in other places in Java tattoos are still unacceptable. Nowadays, tattoos are more of a fashion statement. Many public figures have made tattoos acceptable. It’s not cheap to get a tattoo so for some people it is a status symbol as well — I mean, instead of wearing a Rolex, a great tattoo is becoming an alternative.
Do you have any tips for people who want to get a tattoo?
On the day you’re getting a tattoo, make sure you are fit and sober for at least a day or two. A tattoo artist can tell if you have alcohol or drugs in your system. you tend to bleed more, and the ink color won’t be maximized.
What was the most memorable tattoo that you ever did?
One time my friend who just got out of jail, asked me to give him a tattoo, more of a symbol to start a new life, something fresh. It was an honor for me.

What other media do you use to express yourself?
I used to produced television ads and programs for Metro TV and SCTV. The first time Metro TV channel launched, they came to me for links to major music labels and exclusive one-on-one interviews with international musicians. So I did Metro Saturday Music Special and Music Blitz program for them, and I also did Kick N Rush for SCTV.

Did you ever get to interview anyone famous?
I interviewed James Hetfield from Metallica, Vanessa Mae and other international artists who came to Jakarta.

Sharon was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in Kemang Buzz

My Kemang: Sharon Rose Leasa

Picture by Dissy for Kemang Buzz