Snakes and Dragons: A Chat with Tattooer Intat

Intat served almost two years in the military after dropping out of college. His index finger was nearly amputated due to a terrible hand accident he suffered while on active duty. After finishing his military service, he studied tattooing and developed more effective hand-use methods since he had lost most of his sense of touch and movement.

Due to his love for the fine-line genre, Intat often employs black ink and a range of shading methods, including hatching, stippling, and whip. His subjects are often fantastical and serpentine.

Above: Intat’s snake and skeleton on shoulders. 
The mythical creature in red, black and white.

You work at Yasaeng studio in South Korea; what is the shop like?

Yasaeng Studio, which I run in Korea, consists of eight outstanding artists, including myself. This studio offers the best environment in every respect, whether it’s work space and photography, space or hygiene for clients, and the artists’ quality. It is also a private studio operated only on a 100% appointment basis.

Dragon in flight, created using the fine-line tattoo technique.

Is it demanding to work in Korea?

The rights of a tattoo artist are not guaranteed in Korea, and it is not a good spot for a tattoo; that’s also why my studio is operated privately.

The dragon is shown in close-up with white ink accents.

You do fine-line tattoos. What needle sizes do you use?

One of the things that many people misunderstand is I don’t use a single needle; I use a 3RL. In addition, large projects use sizes 5, 7, 9RL, and sometimes larger.

Another skeleton of a snake slithered over the body.

You have commonly depicted dragons; what fascinates you about them?

I like the mystery and freedom they have. Dragons have their symbolism, but dragons interpreted in my style are expressed in various emotions, both in the East and the West. To understand why I frequently depicted them, I must first discuss the philosophy that underpins all of my work. My works all have Yin and Yang expressions. In astrology, Yin and Yang have four combinations representing all things’ harmony. Reading fate through constellations was romantic for ancient people, and it became an opportunity to become interested. Dragons and snakes have become my favorites among the zodiac elements, and they are also the themes I describe the most in tattoos. It’s appealing simply because of the dragon’s symbolism, but I believe it also appeals to people and me because of its grandeur, splendor, and calm mix.

A magnificent dragon with a rose rendered in black and white ink.

Where do you get the composition inspiration for your dragons?

It can be from my imagination and inspired by cartoons, movies, novels, video games, etc. I am inspired by dragons from the “Game of Thrones” and “House of the Dragon,” and almost everything that deals with dragons, including “Dragon Ball,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” “The Elder Scrolls,” “Horizon Zero Dawn,” and “Elden Ring.”

The intricacy and shading of Intat’s rose are magnified.

Do you get lost in your creative fantasy worlds, imagining the characters taking action, like a story in a book?

That’s right! One of the facts related to this is that before becoming a tattooist, my future dream was to be a cartoonist. I love and immerse myself in all the stories that are covered in various media. It can be a fantasy; it can be an action scene. I enjoy daydreaming and imagining the characters’ stories unfold when I’m on break. This imaginary process also inspires me.

Commonly sought and customary in tattoo art are serpents.

What are your hobbies?

My hobby is watching fantasy movies, cartoons, and novels. Recently, I have been reading fantasy novels, and the book title is “Dragon Raja” by Lee Yeong Do, a Korean masterpiece.

A studio portrait of the Korean tattooist Intat.

What are your top 5 fantasy films?

Picking only five of my favorites was quite harsh. The order has nothing to do with ranking; I could only like 5, and it is impossible to rank among them. My picks are: “Spirited Away” (I like all other Ghibli films), “Life of Pi,” “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Constantine,” “The Game of Thrones” (TV series).

Photos © Intat