We asked a lot of questions to this charming “inspir-asian” model who adorns with her dragon tattooed subject one of the hottest month of the year…

Do you feel comfortable posing for our calendar using your back? Why didn’t you show us your frontal pose?
I’ve spent a good part of my life in front of the camera as a commercial print model, occasional model in the alternative fashion scene, and I also used to be a newsreader for a program called Naked News. So I’m comfortable and confident in my skin from any angle. However, I feel the best option for photos were chosen for the calendar, especially to highlight my dragon tattoo.

Tattoo Life Calendar Girl Lily photo by Levan TK
Tattoo Life Calendar Girl Lily photo by Levan TK

What were you looking at from that high terrace?
The funny thing about this photo, is that I seem to remember this shot was an out-take and not posed. We were shooting at a hotel in Brooklyn, and I was peering over the balcony at some construction workers who were working down below. They had spotted us shooting above them. Christian Saint and I had a good laugh about it! We had so much fun shooting that day, enduring curious looks from the maids and maintenance workers in the hallway. Christian is such a wonderful human, and beyond talented genius behind the lens!

Tattoo model Lily photographed by Christian Saint in New York
Tattoo model Lily photographed by Christian Saint in New York

Tell me about your huge love for Japanese tattoos: how and when did it start exactly?
This has been a bit of an organic process for me. I am of Chinese ethnicity, and my Chinese Zodiac according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar is The Dragon. I had a small gothic lower back tattoo – my first tattoo when I was 16 years old, that I was looking to cover up. So I decided the best option would be a massive back piece to mask this small little delicate design that was spanning across my low back! (laughs) From there, I chose pieces that fit the design and feel of each piece before it.

I am still working on metamorphosing this together to become a gorgeous bodysuit.

I guess you are proud of your dragon subject starting from your left leg to your neck. Who did it?
I am extremely proud of my dragon tattoo, I almost wish it was on my front so that I could see it more often. I’m proud for a few reasons. It has such cultural significance to me and brings me much inner strength, protection and luck! I am also so honoured to have my good friend, Tim Lehi design and tattoo me. At the time that I had begun working on this back piece, we had just lost a mutual best friend – Armand Butts Crump III – he was a guitar tech for many bands including Slayer and Guns N’ Roses. The time I had to work on this with Tim was a healing opportunity for me. I cherish the time I had with Tim during this time of loss, creative outlet, catharsis and friendship.

Tattoo Life Calendar Girl Lily, photo by T Harvey
Tattoo Life Calendar Girl Lily, photo by T Harvey

Do you have a particular tattoo subject you are most attached to?
For myself, I’m committed to the Asian tattoo style. Often I will see beautiful designs – a lot of this geometric design, single line work and think to myself, “Oh I would love that!”, but quickly realize that it won’t fit the aesthetics of what I already have. I also love the really dark and gory artwork – skulls, demons, decapitated heads…

but I always come back to reality and tell myself to stick to my plan. Who knows, maybe one day I will work off the path.

Who are your favourite tattoo artists?
Majority of my work is done by Tim Lehi – he used to be based in San Francisco, CA at Blackheart Tattoo but he has recently relocated to Lucky Wizard Tattoo in Brattleboro, VT. Tim did the dragon, the tiger on the right side of my stomach, and the Guan Yin (Bodhisattva/Kannon) on the left side of my stomach, and the peony (botan) on my right shoulder. I have some script done by Norm (LoveLetters, Los Angeles, CA). I also have a peony on my left shoulder done by Horiyoshi III in Yokohama (Japan) this was the biggest honor and highlight for me. I would love to go back and have some more work done with Horiyoshi III. I also have some small tattoos done by Nami at Three Tides Tattoo, Osaka (Japan) and also Sara Ray in California – they are incredible artists. I have been admiring the work of Em Scott in Los Angeles, Timothy Hoyer, Ganji (Three Tides, JP) and Nicholas Tse (Mei Wah Tattoo, HK) and Rafael Delalande (Seven Doors Tattoo, London). There are so many talented artists I would love to work with!

Tattoo Life Calendar Girl Lily, photo by Jill Rasco
Tattoo Life Calendar Girl Lily, photo by Jill Rasco

Will you visit Europe in the future for some tattoo conventions?
I used to live in London, so I would love to get back for the London Tattoo Convention! Mondial du Tatouage would be a great one to attend as well. I would also love to check out some of the conventions in Italy – maybe Florence and Milan!

Last question: will you be tattooed again during next summer?
It’s also without question that I plan to be tattooed more in 2019 and the years to come. There’s still a lot of empty space on my human skin canvas!

Follow Lily on Instagram: @lfk666