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Artisans and jewelers have worked to master the art of jewelry making for thousands of years. The earliest known jewelry predates Homo sapiens and was created by Neanderthals living in Europe approximately 115,000 years ago. Over time, our understanding of what jewelry can be has evolved and today jewelry can be worn permanently through tattoos. Yeriel specializes in ornamenting her clients with sparkling emeralds, sapphires and, yes, plenty of gleaming gold. We caught up with her to learn what sparked her love for tattooing, where she finds inspiration for her ornate designs and what kind of music gets her in the mood to design.

What inspired you to become a tattoo artist? 

During my childhood, I was the kid who always enjoyed drawing on my body. When I was in middle school, I saw a tattooed girl by chance and it caught my eye. After that, I wanted to get tattooed when I grew up and I thought this was simply a desire to get a tattoo. I got my first tattoo when I was 20 and then I decided to become a tattooist who engraves pictures on the body.

What do you love about tattooing jewelry and gemstones?

I love the sparkling highlight part. It’s best when I can make it shiny with strong contrast.

What’s your secret to creating realistic gold in your tattoos?

There’s no special secret. I try to pack ink into the skin so I can make my tattoos look exactly like the reference picture.

Who are some of your favorite tattooers who create ornamental jewelry?

Heemee is my favorite. Even before I started getting tattoos, I looked at her work all the time.

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

Personally, I like tattooing jewelry the most and I often find inspiration from jewelry exhibits. Then I look for references and try to make the best combination of shapes and colors.

What are your favorite color palettes to work in?

I like the color pink the best, but in terms of my work so far, I’ve realized that I use red and blue most often.

What are your favorite and least favorite parts of the body to tattoo?

I don’t hate tattooing the lower chest, but it’s very difficult to tattoo because of breathing movements. Also, it’s so painful that many clients can’t stand it. My favorite part of the body to tattoo is the forearm.

What is the tattoo scene like in South Korea?

Tattooing is still illegal in South Korea. But there are so many talented artists who work really hard. In this illegal situation, many artists are exposed to dangerous circumstances and I hope the law changes as soon as possible to protect tattooers.

Who are your favorite artists you’ve collected tattoos from?

There are many talented artists that I’ve collected work from, but among them, my favorite artist is Mumi Ink.

What do you like to listen to while you tattoo?

I don’t have a favorite musician, but I usually listen to jazz while I’m working.