A Candid Interview with Chou K – Tattoo Artist from South Korea

In our interview series, this time we connected with Chou K, who is from South Korea. She is the owner of Inksoop tattoo parlor in Busan, South Korea and currently, she is in Vancouver, Canada.

1. What inspired you to become a tattoo artist and when did you start it as a career?

The main reason was because the job seemed cool. The idea of giving a lifelong art on people’s bodies appealed to me. Secondly, before getting tattoos on my body, I wanted to understand the principles of tattoos. So, I started learning about tattoos.

2. How many tattoos do you have on your body and what’s your favorite one?

I have about 12 tattoos on my body. Among them, I particularly like the dragon tattoo that covers a significant portion of my body. It was my first tattoo, and I’m not sure what courage led me to attempt such a large tattoo. It took two years to complete.

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3. Which is your favorite client tattoo, what was the story behind it, and how much time it took?

My favorite tattoo is the recent piece I posted. It took about three sessions, each lasting around 8 hours, to complete the work. We were able to finish it easily because she had great patience. I like the placement of colors and the shape of the flowers in this work. She completely embraced my ideas, and we were able to create the best work together. I would love to work with her again.

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4. What do you do in your free time when not tattooing people?

I spend most of my time creating designs or searching for images that can inspire designs. When it gets too challenging, I sometimes take a break to read a book. I particularly enjoy literature and philosophy books.

5. Why do you think people get a tattoo, even though it’s a painful process?

Considering my experience, I gained significant confidence in my appearance after getting my first dragon tattoo. It felt like the tattoo made me a more unique person and adorned my personality. So, could it be that people get tattoos for similar reasons? Or perhaps to commemorate and symbolize meaningful something.

However, based on my experience, I am focusing more on the former, and my designs aim to enhance outward beauty.

6. Who is your favorite tattoo artist?

Well, there are so many great artists that I’m having a hard time deciding who to choose. I think Axe (x.axe.ink) is excellent at utilizing body shapes and flow. Jackson (majorink_jackson) impresses me with his heavy density and perfect shading. I also truly admire and like the sophisticated and gorgeous work of Ziho (ziho_gallery).

7. What are different styles of tattoos do you make?

Initially, I started with microrealism, but these days, I’m doing more color tattoos with a strong illustrative feel. It’s not quite a watercolor tattoo due to the impactful colors, and it leans more towards an illustrative vibe than realism. Can we call it Chou style? Haha.

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8. Where do you see the future of Tattoos?

It’s indeed a quite hard question for me. It seems that areas where AI can replace humans in design and technology are continuously expanding. However, fundamentally, tattooing is an art form engraved on the human body.

I believe the most important aspect is expressing symbolically meaningful themes that customers desire and aligning them beautifully with their body shape. From my experience, customers often seek themes that hold deep and meaningful significance for them.

Even if AI could technically replicate every aspect of tattooing, the true understanding of these elements comes from the interaction between the artist and the customer. 

I believe that work completed through collaboration between the parties involved holds much greater value. Therefore, I think the future of tattooing lies within the communication and collaboration between the customer and the artist.

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9. Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

When I left Korea to come to Canada, it was primarily because I disliked the poor state of the tattoo industry in Korea. I thought I could achieve more on a broader and bigger stage. However, my current perspective is that my identity remains unchanged, regardless of where or what I do. When thinking about where I’ll be in 5 years, a specific image doesn’t come to mind. I just believe that I will continue walking the path I currently feel is right.

10. If you get a choice, which celebrity would you like to Tattoo and any specific design?

It sounds like a dreamlike opportunity. If possible, I would like to work with a female entertainer active in Korea. Collaborating with a Korean celebrity would be truly meaningful, considering the current illegal and negatively perceived status of the tattoo industry in Korea.

I believe using tattoos to show her tattoos and make them more beautiful has the potential to contribute to fostering a positive perception of tattoos among the Korean public.

11. Please share your social handles and how to reach out to get a tattoo.

You can check more of my work on Instagram at chou_tatt. A consultation form is available on my profile link. I also welcome inquiries via email at [email protected].

I am planning to travel to the UK and Germany in March, so if you’re interested, please feel free to reach out!

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