Tattoo artist Eunyu runs her own private tattoo studio in Seoul, Korea. In this post she tells us all about her journey to becoming the artist she is today, how she lives her life through art and her beautifully delicate tattoos…
What inspired you to become a tattoo artist and how did you become one? I have always had a desire to become an artist. After graduating from college, I decided that realistically it would be difficult to become an artist that only painted as a profession. So, I became an ordinary office worker.
After about a year, I realised that I didn’t want to give up painting. At that time, a friend of mine who was a tattooist, told me I should learn to tattoo. Fortunately, tattooing as a job suited me really well. I became a disciple of Sol Tattoo. A tattooer and shop that are famous in Korea for their delicate tattoos. I learnt tattoo techniques which matched with my delicate and small drawings.
Do you have a background in art? I have been drawing since I was very young. After graduating from a specialised art high school, I entered an art college. I majored in oriental painting, but I also studied various art fields such as photography, design and Western painting.
I usually go to lots of exhibitions, read art magazines and try to live a life very closely related to art.
Can you tell us about your experiences in the tattoo industry? I think the most attractive part of being a tattoo artist is the ability to build a special relationship with your customers. If people like my small drawings they buy them and by doing so they show that they like my style. A lot of my clients ask me to design them something that is unique. I find it really rewarding to communicate with and tattoo people who need my drawing talent and tattoo skills.
By creating a custom design I get to hear the special story of the person I will be tattoing. The client trusts me and I’m very proud of this. That’s why I want to talk to more of my customers and do custom pieces in the future.
How would you describe your work? I explore the little things that can be found in nature and I delicately draw them with love. Bright colours and an array of colours are represented in my work. Although they are small in size, the details are delicate and require a lot more effort than expected.
Do you prefer to do colour or black and grey tattoos? I like both. But I like to deal with a wide range of colours, which makes colour work more fun. In the beginning of my tattoo career I did a lot of black and grey work. But as clients prefer my colour work, I’ve
been doing it more. Lately, I’ve been working on just black tattoos though.
Can you tell us about the process behind your tattoos? I often use photos that I have taken myself. In these photos of nature I find a lot of colours that inspire me. I try to create natural compositions as much as possible by pursuing the reality of nature’s form rather than deviating from the original.
I tend to choose the final design after I have tried lots of different ways of doing it. I respect my customer’s choice so I prepare several commissioned designs for them to choose from.
What inspires you? I like nature, shiny things and cute little animals. I especially like a smooth flowing shape which is often found in nature. As such, most of my designs are inspired by nature. Soft and saturated colours are my favourites too, so I like flowers and colourful birds.
I also like beautiful stories like fairy tales. I get ideas from song lyrics and use my imagination to make existing objects more beautiful.
You tattoo a lot of fish. Why do you think this is? The fish I draw have a transparent smooth flowing tail. The design sits beautifully on the skin as a tattoo, like a real fish swimming freely.
There is beauty in the curves and the red colour goes well with my customer’s skin tones. It all comes together to give people a soft and fluid feel. That’s why a lot of people seem to like my fish tattoos.
What do you like to tattoo and what would you like to do more of? I like to draw creatures that change shape such as fish, jellyfish, and birds. This is also because I can then present various designs to my customers.
In the future, I want to work on big designs, so that the flowers change according to the shape of the body. For example, I want to create a tattoo in the form of a large wrap around plant that stretches freely over the body, such as morning glory or a sweet pea flower.
Can you tell us about your own tattoos? Are you a tattoo collector? I have about 10 tattoos, most of them are flowers and plants. I also have my lovely cat tattoo. I don’t have any very large tattoos yet, for my next tattoo I want a big beautiful flower on my back.
What’s the tattoo scene like where you are? The tattoo scene in Korea is developing at an incredibly fast pace. Watercolour style tattoos that are very delicate or use a variety of colours are sometimes called Korean style. Because there are so many talented and great tattooists a lot of people come to Korea to get tattooed from around the world.
However, society isn’t keeping up with the popularity of tattooing. Tattoos are still illegal in Korea, so tattooists and citizens are voicing that legalisation should proceed for a larger tattoo market in the future.
What moment in your career are you most proud of? The proudest moment is, of course, when my customers show satisfaction with the tattoo I have done. People who ask me for a custom design often tell me very personal stories that are melancholic and sad. They often say that they are comforted by the tattoo designs I make and that they are happy. When I hear this I feel that I did really well in becoming a tattooist.
There are people who express it in words at the appointment, but there are also people who quietly send me a picture of my tattoos completely healed and a message of sincerity. This makes me really happy.
Follow @eunyu_tattoo (if you don’t already) for more wonderful nature-inspired tattoos.