Inno’s Artistic Wave: The Rising Tide of Water-Inspired Tattoos


Inno's Artistic Wave: The Rising Tide of Water-Inspired Tattoos 30

Inno is 28 years old. After earning a bachelor’s degree in 2019 with a major in video design and gaining employment at a fashion brand, he pursued an alternative career path. He enrolled at Sol’s Tattoo Academy in South Korea in 2020. The latter assisted him in learning the fundamentals of becoming a tattooer.

Despite being relatively new to the industry, Inno’s artwork featuring serpents and dragons possesses a recognizable water-like texture. Blue pigment is frequently employed, although black or red dye is occasionally substituted. Inno intends for this fluid effect style to develop over time, so there will be additional developments to anticipate.

This interview touches briefly on whether Inno’s parents encouraged his professional endeavours, his preferred colour pigment, and the reason for the incredible demand for Korean tattoo artists among international clients.

Above: Flowing, Watery Dragon by Inno.

red snake with water wave texture, tattoo on arm
A snake with a red wave pattern.

Did your parents support your desire to become a tattooer?

Korea is still quite conservative when it comes to tattoos. However, my parents were the ones who brought up the idea of me trying out a tattoo artist first and suggested it to me. I wasn’t initially interested in tattoos, but I developed an interest in them thanks to my parents. However, neither of my parents has any tattoos. Haha.

battle of phonix and dragon tattoo
A magical dragon and an immortal phoenix engaged in an imperial rivalry.

Do you think your parents will ever get a small tattoo commemorating your journey and career?

Haha, they probably won’t. They support me, but they’re not fans of tattoos. I currently have over 20 tattoos on my body, and my parents always tell me to stop whenever they see them. However, with so many tattoos, even if I get a new one, I can say, “It was already there,” and my parents won’t notice.

flora and fauna tattoo on arm, blue ink
The fauna and flora are rendered in a stylized manner.

Where have you been tattooing?

I’m working at the studio of the tattoo artist IRUDA, a colleague of mine. IRUDA’s studio is a private space used by fellow tattoo academy graduates, and it offers a comfortable, family-like atmosphere without any special signage. It’s a great place to work.

close up of a dragon, water style texture tattoo
A close-up of the watery effect on a dragon tattoo.

Describe your artistic approach, which draws inspiration from the undulating motion of water-like waves.

When I first drew this imagery, I received few social media likes, and the public responded unfavourablely. I didn’t believe anything was wrong with my artwork at the time. So, I stubbornly clung to my style and spent about six months with no clients. However, as time passed, I realized that if I continued down this path, I might achieve nothing. With that in mind, I let go of my stubbornness and started creating and sharing various designs. During this period, I posted an artwork that received a much better response than my usual posts, garnering over three times the engagement. This artwork was the wave design, and from then on, I continued to create the popular wave style.

little dragon tattoos
They are cute little dragons that are subduedly ferocious.

The dragons you do are not large or intimidating. Is that intentional?

This is a very insightful question. Thank you; it wasn’t intentional at all. Nonetheless, it has become one of my strengths. Most clients desire images like dragons, tigers, or phoenixes, which are typically seen as fierce and intense. However, they don’t want these images to be portrayed as scary. Instead, they seek me out because they want to express these potentially frightening entities beautifully through my flexible and comfortable artistic style.

tattooer inno at work
Tattooer Inno is at work in a studio.

Preparing your tattoo designs, are they done digitally or on paper?

I create digital drawings using an iPad. There’s no specific reason for it. I’ve been drawing since I was very young, for over 17 years. Naturally, I’ve spent more time drawing on paper. However, due to storage concerns, the need to send drafts to clients, and the process of printing them with accurate proportions, I naturally transitioned to digital drawing.

water dragon and lotus tattoo on arm
The strength of the water dragon combined with the purity of the lotus.

Is blue ink your favourite to use?

Blue is my favourite colour because the waves are blue, right? Just kidding! In reality, water, as a substance, reflects and refracts everything, which means it can take on any colour. Most of my work is blue, which is quite simple—I like the colour blue, and many of my clients also have an affinity for it. Blue is a versatile and meaningful colour that can convey a wide range of emotions and sentiments, making it an excellent choice for our projects.

black and white ink dragon, tattoo
A black-ink miniature dragon with white accents.

You previously mentioned doing a guest spot in Sydney, Australia, and that you are in greater demand by international clients than Koreans. What causes this occurrence, in your opinion?

In Korea, there are many tattoo artists with various styles. One of the reasons for this diversity is that there are more tattooers in the Korean market than there are clients, so to attract customers and make a living, tattooers need to find a unique style. For example, my [water-like] style might not exist elsewhere, which may make clients seek me out more.

korean tattooer inno
Another perspective of tattooist Inno at work.

Is your tattoo training at Sol’s Tattoo Academy part of the third generation of the “Korean wave”? And that preparation, unity, hard work, and skill contribute to South Koreans’ success.

Sol’s Tattoo Academy represents the global influence of the Korean tattoo scene. The delicate and fine-line work, one of the signature styles of Korean tattoos, originates in Sol’s Tattoo Academy. South Korea boasts numerous talented tattoo artists, each with their exceptional skills. However, fewer people are getting tattoos in South Korea than elsewhere. Therefore, to thrive in the Korean tattoo market, tattoo artists must continually focus on self-improvement and hard work.

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