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But she didn't give up. "I work better when things do hold me back. It makes me work 100 times harder." Turning her back on the tech and returning to stick 'n' poke, she set herself a mammoth task of completing an intricate raven, to prove she could super-size her work. After 50 hours needle in hand, cramped and exhausted, she finished.
"I literally went from small and simple, to this massive piece and then all my work flew from there."
She defied the norm and found success on her own. And Sarah Lu's just getting started. Her time this year will be divided between tattooing in the UK, and teaching at an orphanage in rural Vietnam. She first visited 10 years ago and made a promise to herself she'd do something for the kids there.
"Everyone has been trying to talk me out of it because there are so many reasons against me doing it (including my safety). But, of course, I'm going anyway."
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