Under current South Korea law, tattooing is illegal, despite Seoul being one of the trendiest cities in Asia. However, despite the law, Oozy has found international success as one of the city’s most sought after tattooers. Forging a unique style that mixes illustrative techniques with dark anime influences, Oozy attracts clients from around the globe with his creepy, cool designs. We spoke with the talented tattooer to learn how he found tattooing and where he finds inspiration for his imaginative pieces.
What made you decide to become a tattoo artist and did you have a traditional apprenticeship?
I was originally majoring in animation. Then, when I was in college, I was introduced to tattooing as a hobby and I studied it alone. Animating a project can require more than six months to a year of work. However, tattoos can be completed in a matter of hours or days. Therefore, I can feel a fast sense of achievement and I started to do it in earnest, because people were responding well.
How would you describe your tattoo style and what made you fall in love with it?
Usually, my tattoo style is based on comic books and mixes different anatomical factors, animals, death and so on to create original images. The art I make is usually expressed pen lines and tattoos fit my drawing style easily, because it is drawn with a needle.
What are your favorite animes/mangas to tattoo and why?
Akira, Berserk, Hunterhunter, Gibraltar, Disney, etc. I like all cartoons and animations.
Would you create your own anime/manga, if so, what would it be about?
My paintings are usually about animals and death; losing their vitality, or about new life being picked up there. I’m very interested in death and birth.
When and why do you use selective colors in your tattoos?
The reason for putting color is simple. If it’s prettier than when you don't put the color in it, you add it. If not, don't put it in.
Where do you find inspiration/ references for your designs?
I get inspiration from everything—TV, movies, animation, pictures and things that just pop up in my head. Be sure to draw or write down your ideas before you forget.
What is the tattoo scene like in Seoul and what are your favorite cities that you’ve traveled to for tattooing?
[In] Seoul [tattooing] is illegal, but it doesn't affect much. My favorite place is L.A., the weather there is the best.
How would the legalization of tattooing in South Korea impact your work?
If tattoos were legalized in Korea, there would be many companies using tattoos for TV, broadcasting, merchandise, etc. If it were legalized, we could do more.
What’s your process for creating a design?
First write down what comes to mind, then shape it through a rough sketch. Then adjust the details.
What else should our readers know about you?
I recently started YouTube, please look out for us.