For decades, tattoo artists have chosen their own name and developed their brand through an artistic alter ego. You may not know the names of Norman Keith Collins, Katherine Von Drachenberg or Mark Machado, but you’ve definitely heard of Sailor Jerry, Kat Von D and Mister Cartoon. For Eun, she chose the name Ink Traveler to fulfill her deepest desires. She wanted to travel the world and give people amazing micro-realism tattoos – now that’s exactly what she’s doing. We caught up with Eun while she was a guest at Inked NYC to find out more about her inspirations, how she fell in love with micro tattooing and more.
How did you choose your nickname, Ink Traveler?
I wanted to be a traveler who goes around the world with tattoos. I worked for a design company for a long time, but I quit my job and went on a trip to breathe new life into my life which seemed to be lagging behind. After traveling around the world for almost a year, I decided to try to find a new job. At first, I was a freelance designer and worked on designing mobile ads, websites, illustrations, stickers, etc. I’ve also worked as a barista and painting teacher and taught illustration painting for online classes. However, while looking for a nicer job, I discovered tattooing.
What are your favorite places you’ve traveled to for guest spots?
It’s definitely New York. It was so good to meet so many people and there are so many different types of people in New York. I have traveled to many places, but New York was the first place I went for work. I met so many good friends, I feel like I made another hometown.
Which artists inspired you to start tattooing?
I’m inspired by Ziho, Eva Krbdk, Edit Paints, Q Tattoos and Coldgray. But there are so many other artists that I love.
What have you learned from other artists you have tattooed with around the world?
I always learn from the artists and guests I have met. Everyone tattoos in different ways, treats tattoos in different ways, has different skin, different personalities, and different attitudes towards life.
What brought you to micro tattoos? Have you ever considered making large scale pieces?
I have always liked to make small paintings. I think the size of my works has naturally decreased because I only get up from my seat when a picture is finished. I became interested in heavy work and luckily I had the opportunity to work there. I am currently working on a dragon run and will be starting another run soon.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of micro tattooing?
The good thing about micro tattoos is that I can express so much with them. The bad thing is that the more details I add, the longer the tattoo takes. Because my tattoos are so small, my eyesight and posture are deteriorating. My posture became that of a turtle. How do you make your tattoos last? Tattoos stay on the skin for the rest of your life. However, when details are too small, they can become blurry as the skin ages. This part should be explained to the client before the tattoo is done.
What are your favorite animals to tattoo and why?
It’s especially fun to tattoo cats and dogs, they’re always cute. I’m so happy when I finally put the white color on their clear and pure eyes.
What are your favorite movie or TV show characters to tattoo and why?
I like to tattoo people with strong and symbolic characteristics. In movies, I especially like comic book characters like Iron Man, Wonder Woman, Thor, Captain America, Spider-Man, etc. This is because it is clear that the tattoo is of that person.
What is one thing you could tattoo every day and never get tired of?
Flowers and animals. I never tire of the beauty and kindness of nature every time I see it. It’s always exciting and fun to see the process as I work.
If you weren’t doing color realism, what other tattoo styles would you like to try?
I think I would try an abstract illustration in color. My favorite painters are Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, Paul Cézanne, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet and Edgar Degas. When looking at art, the most important thing is color. So I think I would try these painting styles with tattoos.
What is your process for doing a cover-up?
The most important thing in concealment is to understand the direction the client wants. Customers who want coverage are already unsatisfied, so expectations for these tattoos are higher. I try to match the subjects they want and the size they want as much as possible to make sure they don’t get covered up again. We think about ideas for tattoos that can obscure the original tattoo and how they can transform it into something else. Then I find a similar reference and draw the design. When designing, the focus is on making sure the cover isn’t too dark. I always pay attention to the contrast and brightness of the tattoo.
What else should our readers know about you?
I mainly work in color realism, but I also work in black and gray. I also welcome not only small jobs, but also big jobs. And I am willing to travel to any country for tattoo. If the Covid-19 improves, I will visit as many countries and people who want me.