Interview with tattoo artist Dokhwa
Dokhwa (@lookatthe_dokhwa) creates incredible pet portraits at 369ink.studio in South Korea.
How long have you been tattooing and how did you get started in the industry? I’ve been tattooing for five years. It all started with a friend who had a lot of tattoos on his body, that’s how I became interested in them. Also when I got my first tattoo, the artist who gave me the tattoo looked really cool, that piqued my interest so much so that I decided to become a tattoo artist!
To see paintings on a body rather than paper was really cool. So I decided to become a tattoo artist.
What inspired you to become an artist? It was painting and my love for finding a variety of paintings and artistic styles. Hyperrealism in particular inspired me a lot and made me fall into tattooing and the art world even more.
Do you have a background in art? No, I have no experience in art. So while I was working, I would draw and paint as much as I could – whenever I had time.
How would you describe your style? My tattoo style is realism, my tattoos show almost every detail of the subject. They’re like a picture. In fact I try my best to make them exactly like the pictures I see or the ones my clients bring to me.
What drew you to colour tattoos? I was doing black work tattooing when I started. However I soon became interested in the work of an artist who does colour tattoos. It felt so different to black ink tattoos, so I started to do colour tattoos too.
You tattoo a lot of pet tattoos, can you tell us about these? I like pets! That’s why I do a lot of pet tattoos. When I finish the tattoo my customers feel like they always have their pets with them I like to see my clients happily looking at their pet tattoos.
What inspires your designs? I take inspiration from a lot of things – movies, books, other artists’ work, etc. I think I get the most inspiration from seeing a lot of paintings.
What do you like to tattoo and what would you like to do more of? I like to make pet tattoos, but I also like portrait tattoos. So I want to do more portrait style tattoos, as I like to create the details of the person I am turning into a portrait tattoo.
How do you see your tattoos evolving in the future? I think my tattoos will evolve naturally as I start to focus on more portrait tattoos. I want to make a design by mixing various themes such as portraits, collages and pop art. So I can add even more details.
What was the first tattoo you did? My first tattoo was a whale. It was a very simple black whale, but it took a long time. It’s a tattoo I never forget about and I won’t forget the experience of making it either.
Do you still like your first tattoo? How has your tattooing style developed since then? Yes, I like it! It was my first tattoo and it’s still really meaningful. Since then, I have practiced a lot more and tried various styles of tattooing – old school, black and grey and colour realism. After a lot of trial and error I found I was interested in colour reaslism, which is what I’ve been doing.
Where’s been your favourite place to travel and tattoo? I think it’s Amsterdam. When I worked in Amsterdam, there were so many customers who liked my style and my tattoos. And I love to see works of art, so I really loved it when I went to the art museum.
Do you have any travels or guest spots planned? Not yet. But I want to go to Istanbul in the future. The tattoo studio I want to go to the most is in Istanbulm it’s filled with so many talented artists. I look forward to going there as soon as I can.
What’s the tattoo scene like where you are? There are so many talented artists in Korea. So everyone tries really hard on their craft. Tattoos are still illegal in South Korea, so we’re not legally protected. There are, however, artists in Korea who are campaigning for legalisation.
What do you do when you’re not tattooing/drawing? I recharge and regain my energy by watching movies and exercising or spending my own time. I think maintaining my health is important, especially for my work, so I try and keep looking after myself.
What moment in your career are you most proud of? I participated in a tattoo convention with the artists who work in the same studio as me. That was when I felt really proud. Especially as it was my first tattoo convention and a lot of people were interested in and liked my work. I got a lot of experience and learnt a lot.
Follow (@lookatthe_dokhwa) for more adorable pet tattoos.