Black doesn’t mean monotoned. In this interview with tattooist Choiyun, she shares how she turns black tattoos into gorgeous designs.
I have always loved color tattoos. Colors are communicative and sometimes bring out different emotions. In addition, there are so many color palettes to choose from, thus giving tattooists room to explore.
But black tattoos are different. Without color contrast or the combination of warm and cold, it’s harder to create an expressive tattoo. That’s why good blackwork is rare. So how do you make a black tattoo less monotone?
I found the answer when I scrolled through tattooist Choiyun’s Instagram profile. Most of her work is in black. But each one is slightly different. She creates a collection of fun and stunning black tattoos with varying shades of black and a trace of colors.
I am honored to interview tattooist Choiyun and hear her ideas on tattooing and art. Read on to know more about her work and her tips on finding the perfect tattoo for you.
Tattooist Choiyun interview
Table of Contents
The start of the career
Just like many other tattoo artists, Choiyun has always loved art. She was born in a small rural village and attended a local high school of art. After that, she moved to Seoul and furthered her studies.
But she didn’t start out as a tattooist upon graduation. Instead, there was a time that she felt lost about her future career. Eventually, she decided to go back to what she did the best – drawing. And tattooing became an obvious direction as she could use her drawing skills to establish her name in the industry.
But things didn’t start smoothly. The first tattoo shop Choiyun worked at was not ideal for beginners. She didn’t have enough opportunities to learn and explore her own style. Thus she quit and moved to another one called Studio By Sol. And since then, she has been working as a resident tattooist for four years.
Unlike many other South Korean tattoos, Choiyun’s work is more on the minimalist side. As she said in the interview, she loves things that are “simple and organized.” Her aesthetics translate into her work as simple, sleek, and mostly black tattoos.
“I take the silhouette of an object and fill it with gradation.” Therefore, she called her style the “gradation tattoos.”
Black vs. color
Tattooing in black is definitely a challenge, especially when you need to illustrate something in detail. But if done well, a black tattoo can be as vibrant as the color ones.
“Personally, I prefer black tattoos over color tattoos, probably because I love pencil drawing. Also, I think it’s quite amazing to express different tones using only black.”
Contrary to tribal tattoos or traditional tattoos where the black color is solid, Choiyun uses different shades of black in the expression of light and shadow. “There is so much you can do with black. And that’s the magic of blackwork tattoos.”
On top of that, paring different colors with black is another way to highlight a tattoo design. A red string, a shade of blue…small traces of colors draw the viewers’ attention and add fun to a tattoo.
The most viral tattoos of Choiyun are mostly snakes and dragon tattoos.
“I think people love tattooing cool and symbolic creatures. And dragon and snake tattoos are perfect for that. Also, their long, curvy body shapes compliment the human body. And it’s the perfect canvas to fill with gradient colors.”
Finding a tattoo you want
As a tattooist, Choiyun has done tons of tattoos for her clients. But there are rules you must follow to get a tattoo you won’t regret, especially if it’s your first one.
“The first tattoo is usually the most important one, often the most meaningful. That’s why I always suggest my client come up with an idea. It can be an animal, a letter, or anything meaningful. But always come with something in mind, or they may regret it later.”
As a tattooist, Choiyun finds inspiration from her fellow tattooists’ work. This may also apply to those who want a tattoo but don’t have a specific object in mind. Browse websites, and check the profiles of different tattooists. And the more you see, the better you know about your preferences.
When you have a clear idea of what you want, you are less likely to regret it later. In fact, a good tattoo may even bring comfort or joy for a long time. In the interview, Choiyun brought up the story of a tattoo she had done.
“A client asked me to tattoo a tree with red fruit. It was a tree planted by her father before he passed away. It is a way to commemorate her father as if he was always there for her.” This is the first time Choiyun felt the power of a good tattoo – it helps people remember and heal.
How to find a good tattooist
For Choiyun, a good tattoo has to be what the client wants. A good tattooist can visualize what’s in the client’s mind and create a tattoo that speaks to the client.
“That’s why I think a good tattooist should have the skills, experiences, and commitment. In addition, he or she must be willing to listen to the client. Only with communication can the tattooist and the client work together smoothly.”
Choiyun has also expressed her personal experiences as a tattooist.
“It’s not an easy job. First, you have to be responsible for the client. So you need to ask them many questions to help them figure out what they want. Second, the tattooing process can be long and tiring. But I try to stay focused as there’s very little room for error.”
This is the most difficult part of a tattooist’s job, according to Choiyun. The stress and anxiety come from a sense of commitment and responsibility. And that’s what you want to see in a tattooist you work with.
Looking to the future
Despite her daily challenges, Choiyun loves working as a tattooist. “I want to continue to tattoo even when I am old.”
Besides tattooing, Choiyun loves art and shooting vlogs. But she doesn’t use the vlogs for her own channel. “It’s fun to document the process and watch them later.”
Choiyun also plans to move to the US. She aspires to grow in a different culture. So we expect to see more and more of her work shared and loved by people.
So here is the interview with tattooist Choiyun. If you want to know more about her work, check out her profile on Instagram. Which tattooist do you want me to interview next? Leave a comment down below.
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