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.