Meet Isle — a tattoo artist from Seoul, Korea, whose creative journey began with canvas and paint before she ventured into the world of tattooing. Her works astound with their vibrant expression and skill, transferring unique compositions onto the skin of her clients, blending elements of Eastern and Western painting. In this interview, Isle shares her path into the world of tattooing, the challenges she faced in Korea's conservative society, and her creative plans for the future.

Let's start with our traditional questions: tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, and what were you doing before tattooing?

- Hi, I'm Isle, a female artist. I'm from Seoul, Korea. I've been tattooing since 2019. Before tattooing, I was a painter and an art instructor for high school students preparing for college entrance exams.

Tattoo artist Isle

What led you to tattooing and how did your career in this field begin? Were there any challenges, considering the status of tattooing in Korea?

- Actually, I wanted to be a movie director, so I was admitted to graduate school. But because of several reasons, I realized that was not my future. And I've been painting my whole life since I was a kid. So I started thinking about how I could use my paintings commercially besides exhibiting. That's why I'm here now.

As you know, Korea is a conservative society. Recently, young people are familiar with tattoos, but in general, it's not. And I didn't know people who do tattoos at that time. So it was really hard to figure out how to learn tattooing.

Tattoo artist Isle

Is tattooing for you art, work, or something else?

- It's both art and work for me. They can't be separated. Certainly, it's work, but I always consider what I want to express artistically. However, I enjoy the flat, white canvas and the thickness of paint. Those aspects are challenging to convey on the human body.

Tattoo artist Isle

Your work looks outstanding! The color palette and technique you use resemble painting so vividly and expressively that it's simply stunning. How did you achieve such a level of mastery in your art?

- I started learning academic painting when I was an elementary school student. So I went to an art high school, not even a university. I majored in painting. That's why I'm used to using colors. Since I was a child, I have been trained to discover the various colors of objects, and now I can use colors like instinct.

Tattoo artist Isle

How do you describe the style of your tattoos? And what are its distinctive features that you highlight yourself?

- My style is a blend of Eastern and Western paintings. While I typically use dry materials, my background in oriental painting naturally imbues my work with that atmosphere. Clients have often commented on the uniqueness of my drawing style

What is the most important thing for you in tattooing?

- Creating a comfortable atmosphere and establishing a bond with my clients are paramount to me. Tattooing is not just a procedure; it's about the connection between individuals. So I strive to ensure my clients feel as comfortable as possible throughout the process.

Tattoo artist Isle

What comes first in your work: the client's idea or yours? How is the sketch of your tattoo born? Where do you draw inspiration from?

- Normally, I receive custom requests. However, I also occasionally share my flash designs. My ideas are often inspired by the inherent beauty of nature, such as mountains, fruit, flowers, and trees. Additionally, I enjoy creating abstract designs, drawing inspiration from the human body's contours and shapes.

Tattoo artist Isle

Our planet is so diverse in terms of flora that I can't help but ask about travels. Where have you been already? And which country has had the greatest influence on your creativity?

- Mostly Korea, especially Jeju Island. The island was formed by the eruption of an underwater volcano approximately 2 million years ago. It's so special and beautiful. When I go there, I always visit several forests. There are a lot of ferns and plants. I've been into ferns ever since.

Spain, Seville. The trees are so different from Korea. From what I've seen, the shape of the trees is so attractive. There were many dark brown trees in Korea, but there were more beige trees there.

Tattoo artist Isle

Tell us about your clients. What brings them to you? Are there any geographical differences in the choice of plants for tattoos among your clients from different countries?

- Foreign customers ask for plants that are famous and common in their country, as it seems to evoke familiar and precious memories for them. I believe that my painting style and way of expression are distinctive, and I take pride in that. I think customers recognize this as well, which is truly an honor.

Tattoo artist Isle

Do you have favorite tattoos, clients, projects, or any unusual stories in your career?

- So many. I can't pick just one. I value bonding with customers. Apart from the wonderful work, it is memorable when I make a good bond with customers. In the end, it seems that the contents of the work are not only left because the customers and I are both people. I was so happy when I heard that tattoos gave them meaning and comfort in life. I don't think I'll forget that, and it will be a driving force in future work.

How do you assess your popularity? And in your opinion, how can it be measured?

- It is the easiest way to judge fame, but it is influenced by too many force majeure factors. I have met many customers who love and regard my paintings as special, and I gain confidence whenever I do.

Tattoo artist Isle

What else are you passionate about besides tattooing?

- Since last year, I've been really into watching football, so I always watch football games. I focus on finding a balance between my health and work, body and mind. I often make healthy and diverse meals, take walks with my dog, enjoy the scenery, and engage in cultural activities. I also exercise regularly and write essays, as well as enjoy meeting friends.

Tattoo artist Isle

What is the most important thing for you in a tattooing career? What goals do you set for yourself? Can you share your creative plans for the near future?

- What I really want to do is to create paintings that are unrelated to tattoos. Currently, I'm unable to pursue this for various reasons, but I aspire to produce numerous paintings and exhibit them publicly. I majored in Oriental painting in high school, so I'm eager to explore oil painting.

While fame and financial success are undoubtedly significant, they are not my primary objectives. My aim is to spend time with my loved ones and pursue my interests in a more relaxed environment."