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We recently got in touch with Ogi Oh, a tattoo artist from South Korea. We asked him a few questions and shared the responses here, along with some of his tattoos.
1. What inspired you to become a tattoo artist and when did you start it as a career?
From a very young age, I loved drawing, and thanks to this, I naturally grew up with a much better understanding and skill in drawing than others. Due to the obligation of Korean men to join the military as an adult, I joined the military when I was 20 years old. It was a time when tattoos were illegal and people with tattoos were not common, but since the military was a place where a variety of people gathered, I was able to see many people with tattoos at that time.
It was the first time I was able to see a tattoo up close that was unfamiliar to me. It was really interesting to me that the canvas was not paper, but the human body and I was instantly fascinated by the uniqueness of the art, which was different from the art I had seen before.
At the same time, I thought, “Oh, I think I can do better if I do it.” From then on, I dreamed of becoming a tattoo artist. I started learning tattoos after I was discharged from the military, and I started working as a tattoo artist in 2017.
2. How many tattoos do you have on your body and what’s your favorite one?
I have about a dozen tattoos. My favorite one is a tattoo with a harmonious design of a statue shedding tears and a rose. This is my first tattoo. It is meaningful to me because it is my first tattoo, but the meaning behind this design is also very meaningful to me. When I was in high school, I practiced drawing sculptures for 10 hours a day to get into the art college of my choice.
This was very difficult for me. However, I endured this difficult time and was eventually able to enter the university of my choice. This tattoo expresses these things. The statue in the tattoo design represents the statue I used to practice my drawing, the image of the statue shedding tears represents the hard work I have done to prepare for college entrance exams, and finally, the rose represents me achieving my goal.
3. Which is your favorite client tattoo, what was the story behind it, and how much time it took?
When I’m commissioned to design a large work, I’m glad that I think I’m recognized as a pretty good tattooist. My first big work was done in Germany. The customer wanted to get tattoos on the front of his body. And it took about 40 hours. I designed topics and geometry in consideration of muscle lines, and it blends as well as I thought. I think the feeling I wanted to express came out well. Also, as the human body is a canvas for the tattooist, his muscle lines were really beautiful, and I was grateful to be able to express the hard-working design with a great body.
4. What do you do in your free time when not tattooing people?
On days when there is no tattoo work, prepare a design requested by the subsequent customer. Other times, I try to spend time with my family as much as possible.
5. Why do you think people get a tattoo, even though it’s a painful process?
I think that most guests can withstand the painful process well because they engrave things they value or values of life on their bodies. After the pain has passed, they can get satisfaction and happiness from tattoos.
6. Who is your favorite tattoo artist?
My favorite tattoo artist is Oscar Akermo. I respect him. The traditional black & gray genre may feel a little heavy because it fills all spaces without any space. I think he is the first tattooist to express an understated margin and rich tattoo according to the line flow of the human body among tattooists focusing on the black & gray genre. To build my style, based on the inspiration I got from him, I am also researching and trying to harmoniously express the beauty of the interaction between black & gray and geometry to create a design that is both understated and rich, and able to flow the lines of the human body. Until the day when the black and gray genre can be loved by both men and women of all ages, I will keep trying to complete a style that can show restrained weight and sophisticated beauty.
7. What are different styles of tattoos do you make?
For my tattoos, the most important thing is a design that flows along the muscle line of the area desired by the customer. At the same time, geometric elements were used to create the beauty of blank space. I wanted to differentiate it from the existing traditional black and grey tattoos, dense coloring on the skin, and a style that I sometimes feel is too much for me. This way, each customer’s unique skin color can be brought out and harmonizes well with the tattoo. In a word, is a style with understated richness and sexiness black and grey tattoo style.
8. Where do you see the future of Tattoos?
In the future, it is said that there will be quite a few jobs that will disappear due to artificial intelligence. Of course, I don’t think it’s an exception in the tattoo scene. I saw a design drawn by artificial intelligence and it was pretty good. However, I think it is necessary to exchange emotions between people to understand the feelings that customers want and also to make a design about each individual’s unique muscle lines and flows. Therefore, I think that the existence of an artist is essential in the tattoo scene. This does not mean that we have an indolent mind, but I think we can expect good results if we try to respond sensitively to new trends and communicate with customers while accepting technologies that are developing day by day.
9. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
I think I can see myself growing more than I am now in many ways. In terms of design, I think there is no end point, so I am constantly trying to raise the visual level through various art media, exhibitions, and viewing antique buildings. That’s why I think I’ll be a much better artist in design than now. In addition, I think I will be starting a business in five years because I have the desire to do various artworks such as the clothing business using designs.
10. If you get a choice, which celebrity would you like to Tattoo and any specific design?
I’m happy just to imagine that I can choose. If I had that opportunity, I’d like to tattoo a fighter named Sean Strickland. I enjoy watching UFC, and he’s a fighter I support. He has a well-established body with great muscles, so I think he’ll go well with whatever materials. I think his favorite ak motorcycle is also good. Anyway, I think a good work will come out if I can design it according to his muscle line with my main subject, fine line.
11. Please share your social handles and how to reach out to get a tattoo.
Customers can access my work through social media such as Instagram and Facebook, and they can contact me through the email, listed on my social media profiles. To make a reservation the customer should provide the following information.
- 2-3 topics they want to get tattooed on.
- Photographs of actual body parts that they want to get tattooed on.
- The size they want to get tattooed on.
- How much time they can spend on tattoos?
There is a lot of data depending on the topic, but since each individual’s muscle is different, it is most important to get a picture of the actual body part they want to get a tattoo in advance so that I can collect data that can best flow to their muscle line. Based on the information I received from the customer, I designed the collected materials and geometry in my style. Customers can see the completed design on the day they make a reservation, and if they want a correction, I respond immediately. Once the design is confirmed by them, I start working on it.