For foreigners in Korea, getting a permanent piece of body art can be a bit of a daunting task due to language barriers. While contacting artists in the local lexicon is preferable, there are a number of artists in the Korean scene who can communicate with clients in English. This is in no way a list of all of them, but a starting point for those who want to get some ink, but are worried about not being able to connect with their artist.
Whether it is through the first-hand experience with the artist or by following them on social media platforms, each of these artists has gives the impression that they are able to communicate effectively, at least when it comes to understanding what a client is looking for in a tattoo.
You’ll notice that a lot of artists included on this list have a very distinct style that they rarely stray from. This is a quality quite unique to the Korean tattoo scene. In other countries, while of course there are throngs of artists who create their own original works, it is also very easy to find a tattooer who can take an image provided by a client and copy it onto the skin.
In the Korean scene, you won’t find this as often. This is due, in part, to the conservative views and legalities surrounding tattooing in Korea. In order to become a tattoo artist in Korea, one must be really dedicated and passionate about the craft and the pieces they are producing. Many of the tattooers in Korea are artists who later became tattooers and translate their artwork into some pretty cool permanent body art.
With that in mind, let’s get to the artists!
Greem is an artist located in the vicinity of Hongdae who focuses on simplistic blackwork tattoos. She focuses on sharp edges, with most of her designs taking a more blocky form with bold lines. While her English isn’t the best of this list, she is able to easily and effectively communicate all the necessary information to her clients.
If intricate designs are more your speed, Hongdam is your guy. He focuses on delicate line work in mostly shades of black. But, he also isn’t afraid to throw in some color. He sometimes takes his work on the road, traveling to various countries around the world to do guest work. With international experience like this, it’s no surprise that he’s gained quite the fluency in English, especially when it comes to communicating with his tattoo clients.
Ildo’s pieces are uniquely his and utilize intricate lines and shading. He’s known for his darker characters, most notably his skull-faced figures (like the one pictured above). He’s filled numerous guest artist spots in the UK, so he likely has no problem discussing designs with potential clients. When he’s in Seoul, he works out of the Hongdae-based studio Lucent.
Another popular artist to follow is Woo Hyun Heo, who works under the Instagram handle “Woo Loves You.” His style is portrayed in comedic characters and bold colors. Most of his designs are like optical illusions, as the characters are contorted to take the shape of hearts or skulls. Like his designs, but unsure about getting inked? He’s also branched out into pin-making, so you can grab one of his designs to wear.
Known for her intricate flowers, Zihwa’s designs are the perfect mixture of intricacy and elegance. Her pieces are delicate, detailed, and rely on the subtle contrast between black ink and the skin. She hails from the Hongdae-based tattoo collective known as Reindeer Ink that houses a small group of experienced artists who can all communicate in English.
One of the most famous artists on our list with almost 450K followers on Instagram, Sol is another artist to go to if you want intricate linework. His focus is more on the cute and colorful and he’s become known for his animal designs. Sol provides booking information in both English and Korean, but you have to be quick! He tends to be booked months in advance.
Hugo lived in the U.S. for a number of years before making a name for himself in the Seoul tattooing scene. Since then he’s gained a huge following on Instagram because of his cute design aesthetic. His pieces apply bold line work and dotted shading to cutesy characters. One of the most well-travelled artists on this list, he’s done guest work at locations all across the globe.
Whether you don’t know any Korean or are just a bit rusty, there are many tattoo artists in Seoul who can assist their English-speaking clientele with getting some ink. With this list as a starting point, foreigners in Seoul who want tattoos can have confidence that they’ll be able to find an artist they can talk to. Now, go get tatted!
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