tattoo artists in seoul

8 Talented Tattoo Artists In Seoul For Foreigners

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!

Seoul Ink | Gangnam-gu, Seoul

Seoul Ink is located in Gangnam and has been creating beautiful tattoos since 2007. They recently won the 10 Magazine Best of Seoul 2018 competition in the category of Best Tattoo Parlor.

Seoul Ink Tattoo Studio originally faced restrictions in Korean culture. The staff decided to go abroad for top call tattoo experience. Starting from tattoo conventions in California they traveled to Texas, Michigan, New York, Virginia, and many more to win multiple awards as well to participate as a judges.

Since their return in 2011, the studio was established in Sinsa, Gangnam, while still continuing its top class tattoo work. In order to provide high quality tattoo with more variety, the artists communicate with other great artists worldwide though guest artists partnership.

Greem Tattoo | Mapo-gu, Seoul

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.

Hongdam | Songpa-gu, Seou

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 | Mapo-gu, Seoul

 

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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.

Woo Loves You | Seoul, South Korea

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. 

Zihwa | Mapo-gu, Seoul

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. 

Sol Tattoo | Mapo-gu, Seoul

 

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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 | Mapo-gu, Seoul

 

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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!

  1. Honestly, only ones here that are decent are Hugo, Greem, and Woo. And by decent, I mean the entire tattoo experience. Most tattoo artists in Korea are in it for the cool factor and could care less about the actual tattoo. My fourth tattoo ever was with Sol, and he was really good in the sense that he had really good handwork and really compliant, but he honestly couldn’t give a damn about what he was tattooing and he’s expensive. By the hour, my tattoo was 2 inches by 1 inch and was 350,000 won which is roughly $310 USD. Like nothing in America, the UK or Australia. There’s a tattoo shop Sunrat that’s pretty decent, but don’t get one from Sabi – good work, but same unprofessional attitude and he prides himself on work outside of tattoo. There’s Sunrat and a gyopo (Korean-American) that tattoo there that are awesome, highly recommends for both the professionalism and the handwork.) . Tattooer Apro is LEGIT. By ALL means – do NOT go to Tattooer Dogy. He is the worst in terms of professionalism. He overbooks, overprices, last minute cancels appointments and he steals designs by independent artists without credit to boot. All this dude does is trace outlines and copy other artist works. He actually had several posts banned on his instagram because artists started to report him stealing.

    Basically, the tattoo scene blew up over the last 4 years, and when there used to be 3 tattoo shops in the city of Seoul, there is several on every block, stick n pokes, and kids covered in tatts which up until 2013, were taboo. It’s still considered illegal in South Korea, so big conventions get raided, costs are higher here (but the penmanship is awesome), and the attitude of a lot of these dudes are unearned. There are really good artists, but do your research. And like any good tattoo shop and experience, the work is not good enough. It’s about the experience, and you’ll have the ink on you forever. So the relationship you have with your tattooer is important. Godspeed!

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