Micro Masterpieces: The Intricate Artistry of Arar's Tiny Tattoos
Introducing the unique tattoo artist, Arar, whose talent blossoms in the heart of Seoul, South Korea. Since the beginning of his creative journey in 2017, Arar has dedicated himself to crafting incredibly delicate and miniature tattoos, capturing the attention of clients from around the world. In this interview, he shares his remarkable odyssey into the world of tattoos, from the early days of art education to the exhilarating moments when his clients experience joy, shedding tears of happiness. Let's delve into more about his style, inspiration, and career aspirations.
Can you tell a little about yourself? Where are you from, and what did you do before the tattoo?
- Hello, I'm Arar, a tattoo artist working in Seoul, South Korea. I've been doing tattoos since 2017, and I mainly create small and cute designs using thin lines. My focus is on subjects like pets, animals, animation characters, and lettering. I often do mini tattoos, which attract a lot of first-time clients interested in getting tattoos. Before I started tattooing, I aspired to become an illustrator and was learning in that field.
What got you into tattooing? How did it all start for you?
- I first became interested by chance when I came across small and highly detailed tattoo pictures on the internet. Initially, I had a strong interest in illustration, but after seeing those photos, I realized that tattoos share many similarities with illustration. This led me to consider learning tattooing.
Do you have any special training?
- I learned tattooing from a tattoo artist in South Korea. The duration of the course was about three months. The first month was a period where I received feedback on the designs I created, and the remaining two months were dedicated to practicing with a tattoo machine on rubber sheets. There wasn't specific formal training, but it was a memorable experience because I got to meet friends who were also starting their tattoo journey, and we could rely on each other for support.
You have very tiny tattoos with incredibly delicate lines. Why did you choose to work in this direction? Does the choice of style have to do with Korean law, where tattoos are still illegal?
- No, the reason I use thin lines has nothing to do with the illegality of tattoos in Korea. I simply wanted to create small tattoos that allow for detailed expression, and that couldn't be achieved with thick lines.
Tell me about your clients. Who are they? Are there many foreigners among your fans?
- Roughly 98% of my clients are women. It seems that my preference for creating small and cute designs has attracted more female clients. With the easing of travel restrictions due to the end of the pandemic, I've been meeting many foreign clients from various countries. I'm truly grateful for their visits as they come from all around the world.
Do clients most often come with their own ideas, or do you implement your own more often? Is it difficult to transform an idea into such a miniature tattoo?
- Korean and foreign clients have a few differences. Korean clients often send me rough sketches of the design they think about, and I redraw it in my style. On the other hand, foreign clients are more likely to request designs similar to the ones I've previously created compared to Korean clients.
Tell me a little about the technique. Such work requires incredible concentration. How do you manage to work with such fine lines on such a small scale?
- I found using thin lines more comfortable when I first started tattooing. Interestingly, using thicker lines was much more challenging for me. Of course, it took a lot of time to be able to do delicate lines. It was something I naturally developed over time as I gained more experience in tattooing.
How long is your typical session?
- The time required for a tattoo can vary significantly depending on factors such as the design, size, and which part. For small lettering tattoos, the entire process, including preparation, the time it takes for tattooing, and taking photos, typically takes about an hour. Even for very small mini tattoos, I still allocate a minimum of one hour as the standard time.
Which subjects and themes for tattoos do you like the most, and why?
- I find tattooing with animation characters as the theme to be the most enjoyable. The process of creating a design in my own unique style, rather than replicating the original, is a lot of fun, and it's incredibly rewarding to see clients who appreciate and love the design.
Do you have any projects that you are most proud of? Can you tell us about them?
- Among the various experiences, one that stands out is a memory of a client who, after getting a tattoo from me, was overwhelmed with joy, shedding tears like a child. This client wanted a Winnie the Pooh tattoo, which held many cherished memories for them. She had always wanted a tattoo but couldn't find a tattoo artist she was truly satisfied with. By chance, she discovered me through Instagram and traveled from a distant foreign country to Korea to get her tattoo. When she saw the tattoo, she was so elated that tears of happiness welled up in her eyes, much like a child. It has been such a beautiful and unforgettable memory, and for someone, it was a moment of immense pride for me.
Do you travel a lot as a tattoo artist?
- Of course! Up until last year, I felt a sense of regret because I couldn't do guest work in other countries due to COVID restrictions. However, with COVID-related regulations gradually easing around the world, I started traveling to different countries from 2023. In January, I spent about a month in Singapore, and in March, I had the opportunity to visit Hong Kong. From mid-March to early May, I had the chance to explore Paris in France, Frankfurt and Berlin in Germany, and London in the UK. If I get more opportunities, I would love to explore many more countries.
You have a huge number of followers on social media. How do you rate your popularity, and how do you think it can be measured?
- Having many followers is something I'm truly grateful for. I've been working on tattoos since 2017, and it seems like my following has gradually grown over time. However, I haven't had a direct experience of feeling exceptionally popular. I also don't post my own face on social media, so it's even more disconnected in that sense. Nowadays, there are numerous individuals with a substantial following across various fields, which makes me not consider myself famous at all.
What is the most important thing for you in a tattoo?
- I consider it most important to create a design that aligns with what the client desires. While my personal style and artistic expression are certainly significant, those designs are a reflection of my creativity. However, since these tattoos become a lifelong part of the client's body, it's crucial not to be too stubborn about my own preferences and instead prioritize accommodating the client's vision.
What are your career goals?
- My goal is to travel to various countries and cities, tattooing more clients and enjoying my work. This recent experience of traveling and doing guest work in different countries has left me with wonderful memories. Although I tend to be somewhat reserved, meeting new people in new environments has been incredibly interesting.