Want a tattoo inspired by an Asian culture that isn’t a woefully misguided, mistranslated set of Chinese characters? You might consider buying a ticket to Seoul to get an appointment with Pitta, the Korean tattoo artist that’s fusing Korean spiritual and folk art with global cultural icons to transform his clients’ bodies into gorgeous, otherworldly paintings.
In America, tattoos have made a comfy place for itself in the mainstream–to the point where even the most basic of sorority girls has a cute hip piece and sad, blank-bodied lame-os like yours truly are nearly in the minority amongst our millennial peers.
Not so in Korea, where most tattooing is still technically against the law, if not really enforced–the only people legally licensed to tat are actual medical doctors. Just 10 years ago, a survey showed that only 67% of Koreans had actually seen a tattoo IRL, which was a huge step up from 20 years before, when that number was only 24%, but still. Tattoos in Korea are decidedly more edgy than in the ole US of A.
So it’s not totally surprising that many of Pitta’s clients at BadHands Tattoo works are tourists looking to commemorate their time in his country with a gorgeous original tattoo with a distinct Korean sensibility.
In an interview with Konbini, Pitta said:
I’m influenced by the aesthetic of Korean folk paintings and Dancheong, the traditional decorative coloring usally found in temples. But I like when it gets closer to Japanese or American tattooing.”
I mix everything I can with Korean aesthetics. And every time I succeed in changing a famous element into an oriental design, I have so much fun!
Sometimes that means a reinterpretation of Hokusai’s The Great Wave:
Or Magritte-inspired masterpieces:
Or this brilliant fusion-allusion to a Greek myth:
Or this vivid reference to the Sistine Chapel:
When Korea meets Klimt:
Whatever the inspiration, the results are fucking awesome: Pitta’s created a unique trademark style that more than makes up for that pesky lack of a legal medical degree.
Here’s some more of our favorites:
For more of Pitta’s amazing tattoo art, check him out on Instagram.
H/ T Konbini