Seasonal Fruit and Flora Tattoos by Isle

peach tattoo on arm

Isle, who is 33 years old, spent her collegiate years studying Asian painting and earned a bachelor’s degree in 2015. Having always been engrossed with the arts, she determined that tattooing would be her vocation. After completing an apprenticeship and embarking on a professional tattooing career in 2019, Isle has prioritized the requests of numerous Korean clients regarding the beauty of fruits and plants. Some of the colors she uses are influenced by how sunlight reflects on the items, which she discusses in more capacity in this interview.

On her days off, she likes spending time at home, listening to music, cooking, reading, and going for outdoor walks with her dogs.

Above: Isle observes how light illuminates fleshy fruit that she tattoos on her clients.
blue flower cover up tattoo
A van Gogh-like Iris is covering up an older and faded tattoo.

Your fruit tattoos are some of your best work. What prompted the repeated use of them?

I’m interested in the subjects of nature, not only fruits, flowers, trees, and more. I like fruits’ vivid colors and round shapes; they look lovely and warm when tattooed.

pomegranate tattoo on arm
Something enticing exists regarding pomegranates.

What is your favorite fruit to eat and your favorite to tattoo?

I like to eat peaches and tattoo them on bodies.

lemon tattoo cover up, 3d
Isle’s additional cover-up tattoo.

You covered a client’s lemon tattoo (see above). Did the client want it improved due to fading or other?

My client grew to dislike their previous tattoo over time. They admired my artistic style and wanted to cover up with something new. It conceals well with the thick pigment I use.

orange flower tattoo on arm
This flower is rendered in warm tones on the arm.

Explain a bit about the process of your flash drawings; for example, you illustrate a flower and then provide color variations of it.

I’m attracted to formative beauty, but it’s not an abstract composition. When I see the subject, I focus on the shape and reflected light. I like to use complementary colors on reflected light. For example, I often use light purple and sky blue colors to depict a peach. It’s already similar to how I would traditionally draw, so I am not always conscious of my coloring; I just do it.

plant on arm, tattoo
Greenery is also a frequent request.

Do you draw on paper or a tablet?

I draw on an iPad using a colored pencil brush. I’m used to using dry materials, which is very comfortable. But I like to use watercolor texture, so it depends on what I want to produce.

watercolor on paper by isle
Watercolor on paper by Isle.

What type of traditional media have you done?

Before tattooing, I’d never used digital drawing. I would draw only on Kent paper and did watercolor painting until I was a middle school student. However, after entering high school, I chose an Asian painting major. So, I used a traditional Korean paper called “Hanji” (which has different thicknesses and paper textures).

bird and leaf tattoo on shoulder
Here, the natural world serves as a tranquil motif.

Do you have any specific illustrator or painter influences?

My professor Bohie Kim, and artist David Hockney. Rather than being influenced by how they both paint, the emotions the audience felt through the objects and works they expressed were significant to me.

Professor Kim and I got along well from the beginning. She was a professor in the subject of my graduation work and gave me an A+ grade. At that time, I needed to improve on how to shape the concept because I was young, and the professor led and taught me well. I also want to emulate her lifestyle and attitude toward painting, similar to David Hockney’s, because they seem happy to paint.

tattoo fresh and healed, flowers
Isle is glad to show customers’ healed tattoos to see how it appears over time.

The longer the tattoo is healed, the better it is for clients to see how it may change. Have you ever explained to your clients how tattoos may change over time?

Yes. Healing is one of the most critical parts of the tattoo. A fresh one is straightforward to make it look good. I aim to close the gap between painting and tattooing [to make the tattoo look as painterly as possible]. And, of course, tattoos fade and blur, but I hope the tattoos will last as long as possible. So, I often explain to my clients how essential healing is, which gives better results.

tattooer isle
Isle in a sunny, flowery portrait.

Are there any plans in the future to do large-scale work?

Always. The body is a great sketchbook. There are so many curves and changing shapes as one moves—it is so attractive. I want to do more prominent pieces. It could be a botanical or an abstract design. I always imagine the large-scale piece in my head.

garlic clove tattoo
Sometimes, a bulbous blooming plant, such as garlic, is illustrated.

Is there already a client waiting for this envisioned piece in your mind?

No, not yet.

For example, a large branch that starts at the pelvis area and extends above the chest and into the center. I want to place abstract designs containing mountain ranges and glaciers as if they were flowing, making it look like the human body is part of nature or embraces nature inside.

Photos © Isle