There are countless reasons people choose to get tattoos. Some use their ink to memorialize, others identify the process as an act of self-love, and others even choose to get tattooed for no good reason at all. (Guilty of the all of the above.) In Hong Kong, though, locals have taken to getting inked for a political purpose, as an act of rebellion against a government that has been threatening their freedom. And in an effort to support the cause, artist Zada Lam has been giving out free Hong Kong protest tattoos.
OK, backing up for a second. Since the end of March, Hong Kong has seen ongoing pro-democracy events which kicked off after the government proposed a bill that would allow criminals to be handed over to mainland China for sentencing. Hundreds of thousands were present at the first demonstration, and as the protests have waged on, they’ve not only increased in size but have also become increasingly violent.
But not everyone is resorting to physicality to express their desires for Democratic freedom, with people like Lam getting in on the political action in fresh ways. The resident artist at Mini Tattoo studio offers two au gratis designs: a geometric umbrella and matching Bauhinia flower, both of which are widely considered symbols of the protests. Umbrellas often act as shields against police officers’ attempts to dismantle demonstrations using tear gas, while the flower is on Hong Kong’s emblem and flag.
“This is my way of contributing and supporting,” Lam said in a video published earlier this week by BloombergTicToc. To learn more about Lam’s Hong Kong protest tattoos—and how his clients feel about the free ink, watch the whole video below.