The little cottage: tattoo artist Ovenlee

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 06 24th, 2022

Ovenlee creates cottage-style tattoos at Ovl Studio in Seoul, South Korea. We chatted to Ovenlee about her journey into the tattoo world, what inspires her colourful tattoos and what it’s like to tattoo in South Korea

How long have you been tattooing? Around four years, I started in the summer of 2018.

How did you become a tattooist? What made you want to be one? I was a student at art college majoring in ceramic crafts and design when I got my first tattoo.

The day I got my tattoo I fell in love with it and tattooing. I was charmed by the craft and I loved the idea that someon else could have one of my paintings on them for the rest of their life.

After that I became interested in tattoos and my friend, who was a tattooist at the time, said I should become one too. He told me that my drawings would make very special tattoos.

It was then that I knew I wanted to learn how to tattoo. Luckily I came across Soltattoo who was advertising for a student, so I contacted him and he became my teacher.

What does tattooing mean to you? It is a medium that allows me to bring together the memories of myself and the people I tattoo. When I paint a picture using my own memories and experiences my customers can also attach a meaning to the image that’s unique to them.

We meet through my paintings and that’s how we share each other’s stories.

What inspires your work? I get inspired by objects in my daily life and things I remember. I enjoy taking photographs in my free time and sometimes I bring motifs from them into my work. I can also get inspired by verses from my favorite songs.

What do you like to tattoo? I love cute animals and flowers!

How would you describe your style? I think my paintings and tattoos are in a fairytale and cottage core style. The objects I depict evoke memories and I draw them in warm colours. In terms of the practical side of tattooing I mainly use colour ink.

The thing that makes my tattoos different is that I don’t add contrast with black ink. The design is done with just colour ink.

So after the tattoo heals the colours don’t look dark, but instead appear transparent and clear. I think they heal more naturally without black ink being added.

The tattoo becomes a part of the body more like skin; this is what I like the most about my work.

Can you tell us about your proudest moment in your career? I always feel super proud when I can offer comfort to my clients with one of my tattoos.

I had a client who wanted a tattoo of her cat who had died a few years ago. Through her tattoo and the appointment we shared many stories and she found comfort. When I can share stories like this through my paintings I feel very proud of my job.

Why are tattoos so special? Tattoos are the best way I can describe and express myself. I have several tattoos and these explain my life, the person I am and my life’s motto.

Can you tell us about tattoo culture in Korea? In the past, Korea was a very conservative society where tattoos were considered to belong to gang members and men. Because of this people with tattoos were not given as many job opportunities and celebrities on TV had to hide their tattoos.

Recently a lot of young people have seen tattoos as a way to express themselves and so various tattoo styles have appeared and a tattoo trend is rising. Unlike in the past, colour and mini tattoos are becoming more common and now young women are getting them (more than 98% of my customers are female).

As tattoos become more common more artists are flowing into the tattoo world and more genres are emerging. This makes me really happy. Older people still have a bad perception of tattoos, but now tattoos don’t seem to have much of an impact on finding a job and celebrities on TV shows don’t feel obligated to cover up.

However, in Korea, tattooing is considered a medical practice. A group of tattooists called the ‘Tattoo Union’ is working hard to fix this. As people around the world pay attention to Korea’s tattoo technology and styles, I hope they will pay attention to this issue as well.

When are you happiest? I am very happy when I spend time with my cat and listen to my favourite songs. A lot of ideas for my tattoos comes to mind at times like this!

Also, I am happy when those who have received my work send me a thank you message. There were customers who said they found hope and courage when they looked at their tattoos and others who were grateful that they have memories they could remember for the rest of their lives. My heart bursts when I think about it and I’m at my happiest at times like this.

Make sure to follow @ovenlee.tattoo for more colourful tattoos.



Interview with tattoo artist Zee

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 06 2nd, 2022

Zee (@zeetattoo) creates fineline floral tattoos in South Korea. We chat to the tattooer about his first tattoo, love of black ink and the flowers that inspire his work…

Why did you want to become a tattoo artist? I wanted to become an artist becaue I like to meet people. Tattooers can meet new people all the time and at almost every appointment.

So, I thought I would become a tattooist as I also liked the idea of engraving a person’s memories, resolutions or their favourite things onto their skin.

How did you become a tattooer? Before I was an artist I worked as a noncommissioned officer of the Republic of Korea Navy for four years. While working I had the opportunity to get a tattoo.

When I got my first tattoo I was really attracted to the tattooists as they had a completely different life to the one I had back then. I started learning about tattoos and how to tattoo from the person who gave me my first tattoo.

What do you like to tattoo? I like to tattoo big colourful flowers in black ink.

What inspires your designs? I buy a lot of fresh flowers and use these as references for my drawings. I also refer to the work of other tattooists a lot of the time.

However, I think the best thing for me to use is the flowers, because even the same kind of flower has differences when compared to others in the bunch. Each type of flower has things that only they have and this inspires me.

How would you describe your style? There are various curves on the human body and I use their flow to make big and small flowers and leaves. I place these on the body and use very thin lines to create each piece.

Your tattoos are mainly in black, do you prefer this over colour? I personally think that black ink is better than other colours, but I don’t think it’s as fashionable. It’s not that I don’t like colours but my favourite colour is black.

Can you tell us about the process behind linework tattoos? I collect a huge amount of information to help me prepare just one design. I bring all this together into my drawing and when I’m happy with it I start painting. When preparing the design I tend to pay a lot of attention to the overall arrangement.

What do you love the most about being a tattoo artist? My favourite thing is meeting new people and tattooing lets me do that. I also love visiting new countries and experiencing their cultures and food.

When in your career have you felt the happiest? Now that I think about it, I think it was when I first started tattooing flowers. At the time I wasn’t sure if I was happy but now I think I definitely was, especially as I got to learn something new too. Of course, even now I am studying constantly.

Do you have any guestspots or travel planned? I don’t have a definite plan yet, but I want to meet new clients and experience new cultures. It’s always an interest of mine.

What about your own tattoos are you a tattoo collector? I have a lot of tattoos that I’ve done on myself. I tend to try new things on my own body before I do them on anyone else. Also if I like the work of a tattooer I try and get a tattoo by them.

Follow @zeetattoo for more of his amazing floral tattoos.



Interview with tattoo artist Sambee

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 05 31st, 2022

We chat to North London tattooer Sambee about her journey into the tattoo world and her experiences in the ever changing tattoo world..

What inspired you to become a tattoo artist? To be honest it was never an ambition of mine, even though I had always drawn, been creative and did art at school. I also used to go home after school and watch LA Ink and NY Ink. I thought they were pretty cool shows but I never saw them as a future career.

Saying that, the idea of making things with my hands was attractive to me. It meant I would always have a way of being able to provide for myself without relying on someone to hire me.

How did you become an artist? A friend took a design of mine to a local tattooist and asked if I would go with him to get the tattoo done. Whilst I was there the tattooist talked to me about my designs, he was opening a studio soon and asked if I’d like to be the apprentice.

At the time I was looking to go to university but my parents were surprisingly supportive of me becoming a tattoo apprentice.

Can you tell us about your experiences in the tattoo industry? My apprenticeship started two months before my nineteenth birthday. I’m at the end of my twenties now, so it has been quite an education. It’s been a strange world to navigate through especially when you come into it quite young.

Tattooing is a great expressive art form and there’s always something to learn or a way to challenge yourself. The more you put in the more you’ll get out.

You meet all types of people, some sweet and some more savoury, but that’s like all industries. It’s nice to see more women and women of colour coming up in the industry.

Can you tell us more about the experiences you have had as a woman and a woman of colour in the industry? I’ve had some awkward moments. I think the frustrating thing about being a woman in a male dominated industry is that you can feel obliged to not create what’s sometimes perceived as ‘trouble’, or perhaps what used to be perceived that way. 

Even now, I initially felt like I had to answer this question by downplaying or lightly glossing over experiences.

If I were to mention every little moment where race or gender felt to me like a disadvantage or something I’ve had to speak out to defend against, it would be a long list. 

Toward the end of my apprenticeship, I was being tattooed by someone (who my mentor invited to the studio). I can’t remember how the subject of race was brought up, but somehow we got talking about it and mid tattoo session, with my limb in the tattooists’ hand, he says the words “ya know, I don’t actually believe in ‘mix raced’.”

My ears perked up, my heart rate rose and I just had to control my facial expression. I just thought, let me make it to the end of the tattoo session and then I won’t have to listen to any more ignorance. 

I’ve also heard clients say they don’t believe in racism, casually, while I’m tattooing them. I’ve also seen someone point out the window at a person in a wheelchair and say the words “look, that’s a n*gger in a wheeelchair”. I was in that room. 

Are there any female artists and women of colour artists you’d like our readers to know about? Hell yeah there is! There’s lots of women that I know and follow on social media that make me proud to be in this job, at this time, because it has come such a long way since I started. 

My colleagues Trang and Chanelle are so talented, focused, driven and kind hearted. I used to work with Jade and we both had the ambition to get into tattooing. She’s got a beautiful heart and does beautiful tattoos. 

People should also follow:

The list goes on!

What attracted you to black and grey tattooing? I’m not sure why I was more interested in black and grey. I appreciate all styles, but when it came to doing them I found that black and grey made more sense. It feels more straightforward.

Have you always tattooed like you do now? I started out doing anything and everything and then slowly just narrowed it down to black and grey realism.

I’m sure in another 10 years my style will change, but I can’t see it changing too drastically. That’s the thing within any creative industry the only limits are what you put on yourself. It’s sometimes scary to change because it’s new to you and you obviously lack experience. Also you’re beginning the process all over again and that creates more self doubt.

Can you tell us about the process behind your tattoos? Sure! There’s not too much to it, my client would have given me images or a description through an email enquiry. With that information I search and source photos relevant to the idea and begin putting that into a composition to suit whichever area the tattoo is going. I tend to do image sourcing the night before and then put together designs in the morning showing a few options.

What inspires you? Other artists, not just artists who do black and grey. Or seeing people who have older tattoos and wondering how can I do my work to a standard that will hold and look sick as it ages.

It would be cool when my clients are in nursing homes and still feel excited about their tattoos or getting compliments.

What do you like to tattoo and what would you like to do more of? I really enjoy tattooing animals. Anything fluffy! I’d love to do more iconic portraits too. I’ve done a few civil rights projects and I loved those! Also any Marvel/DC characters would be a dream!

Are you a tattoo collector? I’ve got a few cats! I wouldnt say I’m a collector maybe just an enthusiast, I’m definitely not at that level by any means.

I’ve enjoyed getting pieces so far from my talented colleague Matt Lunn and the awesome Anrijs, Ash Higham and Edgar Ivanov.

What moment in your career are you most proud of? Working my first convention felt quite pivotal. There’s a lot of anticipation for that moment, so much preparation and it can feel like a big hurdle when you build it up in your head. But it was a lot of fun!

I’m currently at a big transitional moment in my career. I’m joining my friends in making our own artist led studio. I cannot wait for it to be finished! This will definitely be the proudest moment in my career once it’s up and running.

Make sure to follow Sambee for more amazing realism tattoos and updates on her new studio.



Within the algorithm prison, be unashamedly you

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 05 26th, 2022

Social media consultant and tattoo geek Rebecca Givens has been thinking about how artists are keeping up with Instagram trends, changes and updates. 

I can’t take credit for this article title – you have Twin Atlantic to thank and a lyric from their most recent album. When I heard these particular words last week (“algorithm prison that we’re all bred to live in”), they resonated with me. I’ve had quite a few conversations with tattooists lately during which we’ve reminisced over the old pre-algorithm days of apps like Instagram. 

What began as a simple photography platform designed to show, within set square templates, the aesthetic vibe of your brand, work or life (to everyone who actually followed you, might I add), has now become something much more complex. Managed by invisible but powerful mechanisms that decide who gets to see you, when, where and how.

In June 2021 when the Head of Instagram officially declared it “no longer a photo sharing app” but an entertainment hub that prioritises video experiences, we said a sad goodbye to the days of taking a photo and clicking publish.

As small business owners, we now find ourselves in a position where – if we’re not playing by the current rules, consistently and creatively – our efforts shoot down the system’s pecking order and we are consequently less and less visible, even to those loyal people who actively clicked ‘follow’.

For industries like tattooing, in which many artists rely almost solely on Instagram for customers, this is kind of a big (and often anxiety-inducing) deal. Many feel like they simply can’t keep up with what they feel they ‘should be’ doing online.

Yes, it is inevitable for content sharing sites to evolve as time moves forward, but that doesn’t change the fact that we now feel differently about the channels we’re glued to throughout the day. In other words, we’re spending a lot of our time doing stuff we don’t love doing. No one wants that.

Tattooists are finding themselves – not just designing art, creating tattoos, setting up, cleaning down, managing businesses and the other million things they have to do, but also – feeling the pressure to create entire social media strategies that showcase the process and the end result in order to get impressions and engagement. A simple post-tattoo photo with a few hashtags doesn’t cut through the noise anymore.

We know that we need to consider higher-performing formats like video, we need to edit and publish in an optimised way, we need to share at the most efficient time of day, equally spreading ourselves across reels, carousels, live and stories whilst also innovatively telling our brand narratives, jumping on tending audio, keeping our highlights neat, branding our bios and much, much more. Overwhelmed yet?

It’s no wonder we feel like we’re stuck in a game, one we didn’t sign up to play, one we’re desperately trying to follow the rules of, but often failing. The reason why we frequently feel like we’re not mastering the sport is because as self-employed individuals, or often as artists who have other ‘day-jobs’, we CAN’T do it all. 

The first and most important thing I ask a client to do when working on a social media strategy together is I ask them to have a think about what makes them unique (as this will influence selecting which things they CAN do). Uniqueness is key right now because, as influencers and social media entrepreneurs begin to identify what the algorithm loves, we are seeing a repetition of aesthetics, templates, sounds and styles which users are inevitably becoming fatigued by.

It is becoming more and more important to ask yourself – within your industry, what can make you unique?

There are dozens of ideas, our feeds are clogged up with ‘what everyone else is doing’, but don’t rush into anything just yet – take a step back and think about who YOU are and how YOU want to be seen. 

Once you’ve thought about your image and branding you can eventually select two or three ideas to focus on that match up with your values. Incorporate these into a solid and realistic strategy (a list of best-performing formats you are going to do – why, how and when). What things can become ‘your things’, and why? And know that everything is not for everyone and that’s OK – lots of very successful artists don’t ever show their face, they find other ways to shout about who they are and what they do in a vibrant and distinctive way.

What it all comes down to, what is at the heart of any good social strategy for an individual creative is one important thing – you.

Any content plan should be built on the foundation of your individuality and your unique skills, only then can you even entertain the notion of doing something that stands out from everything else churned out in your particular communities.

The end result – you feel less of an algorithm prisoner and more in control and passionate about sharing your work, through content that needs to follow some sort of system, yes, but steers clear of the monotonous compliance of keeping up with social trends. And if there’s any culture in the world that does this already, that is all about breaking the mould and embracing individuality, it’s tattooing. If anyone can shatter the cycle of Insta-clones, it’s us. 

Words: Rebecca Givens (RaRa Media) raramedia.co.uk
Photography: Ally Shipway



Interview with tattoo artist Songe

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 05 23rd, 2022

Shin Song Eun (@songe.tattoo) creates colourful floral inspired tattoos at Inktable tattoo studio in Hapjeong, Seoul. We chat to the tattooer about her journey into the tattoo world, her intricate style and favourite things to tattoo…

What inspired you to become a tattoo artist? I happened to see a tattoo on my SNS app. It was so detailed and I thought how can you express that kind of detail on the body? That’s when I started to get interested in tattoos.

 How did you become an artist? I was a student at art college and then I found a tattoo academy after much consideration.

I learned to tattoo under my teacher, @soltattoo. I worked on my tattooing every day for two and a half years to get where I am now and grow as an artist.

How would you describe your art? I like natural things so my tattoos feature a lot of flowers. I try to express a composition and arrangement that goes well with the body of the person I’m tattooing.

Your tattoos are really bright, what do you love about colour? I think a lot of people also like my bright pastel colours. I also like to use a lot of colourful tones rather than dark colours.

What’s the inspiration behind your work? I read a lot of fairy tale books. And I usually read botanicical books too. I like to look at the pictures of nature that have been taken by the writers as well.

What do you like to tattoo? I work on a lot of ‘fluttering flowers’ and I like them. I think small flowers flow beautifully on different people’s bodies, I love the feeling I get when I see them.

Even if they’re the same flowers, they all look different and give off a different vibe.

Where can people get tattooed by you? My tattoo studio is near Hapjeong Station in Seoul and I’ll also be in Singapore in June.

What’s your favourite thing about being a tattoo artist? Every day I can draw and express myself through my drawings. When I would draw at work or school I would design inside a fixed frame, or so it felt. But with tattooing it’s different, I can draw in my own way.

I also really like drawing in a way that combines my customer’s style with my own style.

How do you create your small tattoos, are there any challenges with these? Some people work on a small tattoo because they think it’s going to be faster and easier.

But, I think small tattoos need to be even more detailed than bigger tattoos, because they need to express the same details in a smaller areas. It takes more time than you’d think.

Do you have a favourite tattoo? I like plant tattoos I do the most.

What moment in your career are you most proud of? When I was guesting abroad of lot of people really liked my work and wanted to get tattooed by me. There was someone who had waitee several years to get tattooed by me, which made me feel so happy and proud.

Make sure to follow @songe.tattoo for more beautiful tattoos.



Interview with tattoo artist Pauline

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 05 19th, 2022

Tattooer Pauline (taken from his mother’s baptismal name) creates beautifully delicate fineline tattoos at Inktable in Seoul, Korea. We chat to Pauline about capturing the feelings of a specific moment in his tattoos…

Why did you want to become a tattoo artist? There are many reasons, including thoughts and memories that I don’t want to forget. Tattooing allows for elements of beauty in my life. It also indicates a direction and ideals that I want to live in and live by.

How did you become a tattooer? Since I was young I have encountered art in my natural environment. Being around art so much inspired me to go to university to study sculpture.

I was attracted to painting and the field of tattooing and so wanted to study this too. While studying sculpture, I fell in love with tattooing and creating my own paintings, especially the idea of engraving these onto skin.

How would you describe your style? I think my tattoos capture the emotions and stories of the moment. Due to the nature of my line drawings it’s difficult to get the same picture more than once. So, I can only draw the lines and the feelings expressed in that very moment. I think it’s this part that is so attractive to me and my clients.

Have you always tattooed like this? No, there’s been a lot of changes in how I paint. At first I did blackwork and oriental paintings as I liked this painting style. However, I was always drawn to line style paintings without realising it and then I openly fell in love with linework.

Your lines are mainly in black, do you prefer this over colour? I don’t insist on black, but I think I prefer black to color. In my tattoos I like to change the thickness of the line as well as the strength and weakness of it. Personally, I think black can express these things best.

What inspires your designs? In the past I was very inspired by Klimt’s drawings and Egon Schile’s drawings. These artists are one of the reasons why I became more interested in drawing.

I always try to look at other artists’ paintings to broaden my horizons. Mainly because other paintings, music and movies are also inspired by areas of art that surround them.

What do you like about tattoos? Tattoos are a way that you can live with pictures of your own stories. Then when we see a tattoo we remember ourselves and others from that time. You can express your personality through them and to me they’re a part of art.

What do you love the most about being a tattoo artist? I get to do what I like to do. It’s a very good thing as I love painting and I’m able to do a job that’s related to it. I also like having a free schedule and control over my time, that’s one of the many factors that makes it so good.

Can you tell us about the process behind linework tattoos? When you’re painting, you’re drawing and so you’re creating a line without any hesitation. It’s different when you’re transcribing that line into a tattoo. You have to express every line well from the neat ones to those with strong and weak points too. I think it’s better to make a line in the skin rather than draw it on paper.

Tell us about your own tattoos, do you collect them? Yes, I have a lot of tattoos. I have the face of my mother, whom I respect, engraved on me. Then there’s also a figure from Korean history, this tattoo helps to give me direction and live the life I want.

Sometimes I collect tattoos because I just like the artist’s paintings. I have a wide variety of tattoos.

When in your career have you felt the happiest? My tattoo appointments are a time where I can be supportive of people. Everyone has pain and some people want to overcome their pain by getting one of my tattoos. I feel proud and happy to be an artist who can be of any help in other people’s lives.

Do you have any guestspots or travel planned? I have been to so many countries including Germany, America, England and France. I’ll be in Singapore soon but currently I don’t have a planned schedule.

Make sure to follow @pauline.tattoo for more beautiful tattoos and travel plans.



Interview with tattoo artist Norang

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 04 29th, 2022

Artist Norang creates exquisite tattoos at Sol Tattoo Studio in Seoul, Korea. We chat to the tattooist about the inspiration behind her work and how she hopes her tattoos will help the wearers to love their bodies…

How long have you been tattooing and how did you become an artist? It’s been two years since I started tattooing and getting tattoos. I’ve been painting since I was very young and I’ve always been interested in this field.

There was a moment where I had to make a choice about my future and that’s when I realised that I liked to paint pictures with my hands. I thought about what I could do with my favorite pastime. I found a special world called tattooing and jumped in without hesitation.

If you weren’t a tattooer what would you be? Maybe I would be an illustrator. It would allow me to express my art through my hands, like tattooing does. The charm of it all is that I can combine colours as I think of them and stories appear as I draw. In my free time I draw and give my illustrations to my friends.

What’s your favourite thing about being a tattooer? That the people who visit me like my paintings. It’s amazing to me that they want to engrave my art on to their bodies. I also like it when they are happy when they see my finished work.

Can you tell us about your experiences in the tattoo industry? I feel a great responsibility in every moment, because I do work that is indelible to the human body. This also includes how I try to get my customers to have a tattoo of what they really want. It’s been two years since I started tattooing, but I still try to work with the same mindset.

How would you describe your work? Fairy tales for adults. I want to beautifully express the same innocence that still remains within these stories. I interpret all the designs I see with my own viewpoint. The charm of my tattooing is to make the things around me more delicate and special.

What inspires you? Twinkling things like stars in the night sky and things with delicate patterns. I also like symmetrical natural objects such as birds and butterflies.

There’s a novelty to the wonderful forms of nature that man cannot imitate. When we try, what is produced is special, it is this that gives me comfort and allows me to dream.

Do you have a favourite tattoo artist or someone who inspires you? My tattooist colleagues and my close friends. Thankfully, I have a lot of friends who have unique and creative minds. I’m always grateful to them for giving me fresh and artistic stimulation.

Can you tell us about the process behind your tattoos? I always try to draw the same theme from different angles and poses, or a new combination. Sometimes, when I do this there are unexpected designs and colour combinations that come out.

What do you like to tattoo and what would you like to do more of? Working with various objects is very fun for me. I like to reproduce the form and the delicate lines I see through tattoos. These days, I am interested in flower shapes, so I want to develop these in my own style.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? Are you a tattoo collector? My first tattoo is an ornament on my finger without much meaning. I didn’t get another tattoo for a long time after that, because I wanted to be careful about the tattoos on my body.

Then last spring I received my long awaited and much cherished flowers and birds from @soltattoo on my arm. I will continue to fill my body with flowers that I like.

What moment in your career are you most proud of? There are so many that I can’t choose. As a tattooist, I think the way I can draw a design to better fit a person’s body is the best. I hope my clients can love their body more with my tattoos.

What’s the tattoo scene like where you are? Our country is the only country where tattooing is illegal. As a result, a lot of generations generally distrust tattoos and tattooing. But ironically, for many young people, it’s a means of self expression. I think there are so many talented tattooists in Korea. I hope that someday Korea will be welcoming of tattoos.

Follow Norang on Instagram for more beautiful tattoos.



Interview with tattoo artist SOOSOO

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 04 5th, 2022

Tattooer SOOSOO owns a private studio in Hongdae Korea where she creates incredible tattoos. We chat to SOOSOO about how she became a tattooist and her work, including her amazing fire tattoos…

How long have you been tattooing and how did you become an artist? I’ve been working as a tattooist for four years. Four years ago I went with a friend who was getting a tattoo, that was the first time I came across them.

I’ve been drawing since I was a child, and I wanted to have a job where I could draw. I thought being a tattooist looked so cool. I decided to learn to tattoo and I saw @SolTattoo was recruiting students at the time, so they became my teacher.

Do you have a background in art? Before becoming a tattooist, I majored in visual design. I went to an art high school to major in design, and I have always learnt about and painted different works, including Western paintings and illustrations, as well as my major.

What’s your favourite thing about being a tattooer? I’m really glad that I can enjoy my job. I love it when my clients like my paintings and they’re happy when they see my finished work.

How do you hone your tattooing craft? To me, tattooing isn’t just about engraving beautifully drawn designs into the skin; it’s about skill and dedication. I think tattooists should polish their skills, so the work doesn’t strain or damage the skin. It’s important that we practise by using various machines and needles to find the ones that best fit us.

How would you describe your work? I interpret every design with my own style. The attractive aspects of my tattoos are the vivid colours and textures, like I’m using coloured pencils.

What inspires you? I usually watch a lot of movies and animations. I also think about tattoo designs when I see scenes and props in the movies. I also try to experience a variety of music, paintings and photos to get inspiration.

Can you tell us about the process behind your tattoos? When I’m drawing tattoo designs, I try drawing the same design in different colours. When I do this sometimes I come up with an unexpected design and colour combination which is really good.

How do you create your fire tattoos?  When I look at the irregularity and intensity of fire, I thought I should draw it. I was impressed to see the colour of the flame fused with the surrounding environment and I thought I could express it in various ways.

I think it’s very attractive to draw fire blooming on the skin in various shapes and colours. The fire isn’t in a clear shape, but I can create a frame to contain it in. I then keep revising the appearance to complete the design.

We love your food tattoos, are these a favourite of yours? I’ve been doing food tattoos a lot recently, they’re quite new to me. I want to draw a variety of painting styles including still life paintings. The shape of food and bottles attract me and lend themselves to this style. Although, I’d definitely like to try more diverse things in the future.

What do you like to tattoo and what would you like to do more of? These days, I enjoy drawing fire and I’ve been working on a lot of small fire tattoos. As mentioned above, I feel the flow of fire on the skin is very attractive and looks good. I want to make a big fire tattoo on someone’s arms or legs, hopefully I can someday.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? Are you a tattoo collector? When I first started tattooing, I worked at StudioBySol, a shop run by my tattoo teacher SolTattoo. There were loads of tattooists in the studio and they gave me a lot of tattoos. 

I don’t have many tattoos on my legs yet, but I want to get a big tattoo on one of my legs at some point.

How does it feel making tattoos in Korea when they’re still illegal? There are so many talented tattooists in Korea and a lot of people want to learn how to tattoo. It’s really unfortunate that it’s not legal. There are a group of Korean tattooists that are trying to legalise tattooing, so I hope it will be soon.

How are tattoo artists seen by society? Older generations still have negative views, but many people are looking at tattooing as art. I hope it will be accepted by more people as an art and legalised.

What moment in your career are you most proud of? I’m very proud and I feel at my best when clients tell me they really wanted to get a tattoo from me. Also when they are satisfied with the tattoo I have done for them.

Follow SOOSOO on Instagram for more awesome miniature tattoos.



Interview with tattoo artist SOOSOO

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 04 5th, 2022

Tattooer SOOSOO owns a private studio in Hongdae Korea where she creates incredible tattoos. We chat to SOOSOO about how she became a tattooist and her work, including her amazing fire tattoos…

How long have you been tattooing and how did you become an artist? I’ve been working as a tattooist for four years. Four years ago I went with a friend who was getting a tattoo, that was the first time I came across them.

I’ve been drawing since I was a child, and I wanted to have a job where I could draw. I thought being a tattooist looked so cool. I decided to learn to tattoo and I saw @SolTattoo was recruiting students at the time, so they became my teacher.

Do you have a background in art? Before becoming a tattooist, I majored in visual design. I went to an art high school to major in design, and I have always learnt about and painted different works, including Western paintings and illustrations, as well as my major.

What’s your favourite thing about being a tattooer? I’m really glad that I can enjoy my job. I love it when my clients like my paintings and they’re happy when they see my finished work.

How do you hone your tattooing craft? To me, tattooing isn’t just about engraving beautifully drawn designs into the skin; it’s about skill and dedication. I think tattooists should polish their skills, so the work doesn’t strain or damage the skin. It’s important that we practise by using various machines and needles to find the ones that best fit us.

How would you describe your work? I interpret every design with my own style. The attractive aspects of my tattoos are the vivid colours and textures, like I’m using coloured pencils.

What inspires you? I usually watch a lot of movies and animations. I also think about tattoo designs when I see scenes and props in the movies. I also try to experience a variety of music, paintings and photos to get inspiration.

Can you tell us about the process behind your tattoos? When I’m drawing tattoo designs, I try drawing the same design in different colours. When I do this sometimes I come up with an unexpected design and colour combination which is really good.

How do you create your fire tattoos?  When I look at the irregularity and intensity of fire, I thought I should draw it. I was impressed to see the colour of the flame fused with the surrounding environment and I thought I could express it in various ways.

I think it’s very attractive to draw fire blooming on the skin in various shapes and colours. The fire isn’t in a clear shape, but I can create a frame to contain it in. I then keep revising the appearance to complete the design.

We love your food tattoos, are these a favourite of yours? I’ve been doing food tattoos a lot recently, they’re quite new to me. I want to draw a variety of painting styles including still life paintings. The shape of food and bottles attract me and lend themselves to this style. Although, I’d definitely like to try more diverse things in the future.

What do you like to tattoo and what would you like to do more of? These days, I enjoy drawing fire and I’ve been working on a lot of small fire tattoos. As mentioned above, I feel the flow of fire on the skin is very attractive and looks good. I want to make a big fire tattoo on someone’s arms or legs, hopefully I can someday.

Can you tell us about your own tattoos? Are you a tattoo collector? When I first started tattooing, I worked at StudioBySol, a shop run by my tattoo teacher SolTattoo. There were loads of tattooists in the studio and they gave me a lot of tattoos. 

I don’t have many tattoos on my legs yet, but I want to get a big tattoo on one of my legs at some point.

How does it feel making tattoos in Korea when they’re still illegal? There are so many talented tattooists in Korea and a lot of people want to learn how to tattoo. It’s really unfortunate that it’s not legal. There are a group of Korean tattooists that are trying to legalise tattooing, so I hope it will be soon.

How are tattoo artists seen by society? Older generations still have negative views, but many people are looking at tattooing as art. I hope it will be accepted by more people as an art and legalised.

What moment in your career are you most proud of? I’m very proud and I feel at my best when clients tell me they really wanted to get a tattoo from me. Also when they are satisfied with the tattoo I have done for them.

Follow SOOSOO on Instagram for more awesome miniature tattoos.



Interview with The Tattoo Journalist

Posted by Admin in th-ink on 04 3rd, 2022

Tattoo enthusiast Adriana de Barros, The Tattoo Journalist is an author, editor and photographer covering all things fine art and tattoos. Her unique interviewing style sets her apart, making her work with legends of the tattoo world a must-read. In this exclusive interview we chat to her about her career, tattoos and the future of tattooing…

A portrait of The Tattoo Journalist.

How did your fascination with tattoos begin? As a child, I remember seeing postcards and books with tattooed 19th-century women and circus performers from “Freak shows.” Outcasts drew me in because they were different.

I would have been heavily tattooed as a teenager with old-school sailor tattoos like swallows and other designs, if it hadn’t been for my severe pigment allergy. As a result, I had to wait a few decades longer for inks that were more natural and suitable for sensitive skin.

Illustrative body art by Makoto.

Which genre of tattooing are you drawn to the most? I enjoy all types of blackwork, from abstract to illustrative. Anything done well in black ink, positive or negative space — I’m drawn to the simplicity and ancient qualities of black ink and how it remains relevant and modern.

An inside look at the first issue of “Ta’too,” featuring Daniela Sagel’s artwork.

When did you get your first tattoo? Do you still like it? I got my first piece approximately five years ago, and it was a little heart in a less prominent location to allow me to test my response to the ink before getting a larger piece. Although the tattoo has sentimental meaning, I would not call it as attractive on an aesthetic level; I prefer more solid art like my backpiece.

A black-ink piece by Makoto.

Do you consider yourself a tattoo collector? No, because I prefer to have a single flowing piece of art on my body. It took eight hours to complete an ornamental floral work on my back, and I’ll finish the ribs, shoulders, and arms in time. As a collector, the only thing that comes to mind is tattoo books, which I acquire for study and collection.

An interview with legend Freddy Negrete at Hollywood’s Shamrock Social Club.

Do you prefer being tattooed at conventions or an artist’s studio? I’ve had both, but I prefer a calmer, quieter setting with more one-on-one interaction with the tattooist. As a spectator or member of the press, I enjoy conventions because they allow people to see tattooing on a larger scale and meet international artists. However, event spaces are challenging to navigate for artists or clients; it is a hectic environment.

The Tattoo Journalist’s photographs of Freddy Negrete.

What is it about tattoos do you think that makes them so appealing? When they were underground, it was their edge and mystique. With the increased availability, I feel that the permanent-ink factor on the skin may be a lifelong commitment that empowers you. It becomes more than a decorative item; it imbues you with a traditional, spiritual sense.

It has the potential to transform you positively so that your inner sentiments become visible on your outer; you become more yourself.

The debut edition of “Ta’too.” Cover art (head tattoo) by Gordoletters.

What inspired you to write your book Ta’too? Its goal is to offer an alternative to mainstream publications by being transparent about the tattoo community, the art, the history, and the human side of the narratives, rather than following internet trends. The first edition featured avant-garde tattooists ranging from Makoto to Oscar Hove.

The second covers tattoo legends from Charlie Cartwright to Kari Barba based in the United States, individuals with 30- to 40-year careers who paved the way for the rest of us. Younger generations frequently overlook them, and I believe they deserve to be featured and told their stories, which speak volumes about the industry’s growth.

The third will be completely different, focusing on raising tattoo awareness in other parts of the world.

On the left is a painting by tattoo queen Kari Barba, which appeared in the second annual of “Ta’too.”

You’re the editor of Scene360. Can you tell us more about this publication? On December 1, 2000, I launched Scene360 as a digital arts and film magazine. It merged several art disciplines into a single publication that did not exist on the internet at the time.

It piqued readers’ interest right away. Film festival coverage (SXSW, Cannes), interviews with painters (Gary Baseman, Helnwein Gottfried), photography (Carl de Keyser, Kavan the Kid), and poet profiles were among the early highlights.

Scene360 was developed with the help of various contributing editors and writers. We included graffiti and tattoos, and as readers expressed interest, we added additional features. For the last decade, tattoo art has been one of our specialties, and Scene360 has shifted its focus entirely to tattoo content. It was nothing more than a natural occurrence.

Lyle Tuttle, the father of modern tattooing, during the Santa Rosa expo in 2019.

What moment in your career, so far, are you most proud of? That’s a difficult one to answer. Having previously worked as a graphic designer and web developer, it took around 15 years of hard work to be recognised for a Webby Award for Best Art project in 2015 without any financial assistance or ties to a large firm. The majority of online ventures require funding to succeed. I didn’t have any; everything was self-sufficient. It taught me that I could achieve what seemed impossible.

The second happened not long ago, when I was at the Santa Rosa expo and had the honour of meeting legend Lyle Tuttle for the first time. I became engrossed in the moment, listening to his stories and absorbing his historical knowledge for hours. Sadly, he died a few weeks after we met, but that day stayed with me; he showed me that I was on the right track, that tattooing would be my life’s purpose. I am highly grateful to Lyle!

Shane Tan’s tattoo art, one of the Scene360 interviewees.

Do you have a favourite tattoo artist? Responding to this will send me to hell. I’m not going to name my favourites, but they include Maud and Gus Wagner, Sailor Jerry, Ed Hardy, Horiyoshi III, Chris Garver, Gakkin, Shane Tan, Hanumantra, and Makoto.

Is there an artist you’d love to interview? Ed Hardy.

Kari Barba during her 1982 first convention, held on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California.

Which female tattoo artists do you admire? Along with Maud Wagner, who is credited with being one of the first female tattoo artists in the Western world—a pioneer and true inspiration—I love Kari Barba, who committed her work in the 1980s to promoting gender equality and has remained a tattoo force ever since. 

The development of a bodysuit by Shane Tan.

The tattoo world is constantly changing; where do you see the tattoo industry going in the next 10 years? I believe we are in the midst of a new tattoo renaissance. East Asia is reviving—Japan, China, Singapore, and South Korea. Growth will occur in the West as well.

Creatives tend to feed off one another; if one region of the world excels, it pushes other areas to improve. Even though there are many tattoo artists today, the ones who will survive in the long run will be true artists with quality expression, composition, and technique.

In terms of a personal wish for the future, I hope that ink technology advances so that coloured pigments appear opaque and bright on darker skin tones.

Follow The Tattoo Journalist for more insightful interviews with tattooing legends.












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