Daldam is a 29-year-old tattooer who draws inspiration from Chinese art, Japanese mythology, and Korean culture. She travels back in time to the period of porcelain vases and goblin legends to delicately tattoo these themes on her clients’ bodies. Peonies, massive waves, and tigers all have significant meaning in the East, which she is aware of and finds fascinating. And most importantly, she is proud of her South Korean nationality, which is emphasized via flags and other symbols.
Above: Peonies have a timeless beauty.
The South Korean flag in stylised form.
So you used to work as a casino dealer?
I needed a steady job, so I became a casino dealer. Even though working as a casino dealer was interesting, I eventually left my job due to a work environment difference. I’ve always wanted to draw, so I couldn’t help but look for a job in the art industry while working as a casino dealer. Then, thanks to a referral from a tattoo artist friend, I began my career as a tattooist.
A reproduction of a Chinese porcelain vase from a previous century.
What was the work environment difference?
The workplace where I worked as a casino dealer emphasized teamwork. However, I was the type of person who preferred to work alone. As a result, I found it difficult to get along with coworkers.
“Hyakki Yagyo” art from Japanese mythology.
Please describe what makes your tattoo themes special.
My primary sources of inspiration are Korea’s traditional beauty and culture. From rich colors to soft tones, to attention to detail, I believe, these are my strengths.
Based on traditional Korean art (in the “Minhwa” style).
What led you to do Korean art themes?
The beginning was purely coincidental. After starting my tattoo career, I became interested in recreating famous paintings. Then I had an epiphany: “Why not work on Korean oriental paintings?” I couldn’t think of any reason not to, so I began working with oriental paintings.
Daldam depicts the classic Korean landscape with feline.
What are some of the characteristic scenes and wildlife that you ink?
In oriental art, a tiger represents the prevention of bad luck, and pine trees represent longevity and health. In addition, the lotus represents purity and righteousness that is untainted by the world. Aside from the designs’ beauty, the definitions make it even more appealing.
Inspired by a print titled “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” from 1831.
You gracefully express yourself through your creativity; are you an extrovert or an introvert?
I took the personality test several times, but I always got the same result, which classified me as an introvert. I’ve always identified as an introvert from my childhood experiences, even without the test. I’ve always found it challenging to speak in front of a class, and it took me a long time to make new friends each semester.
The customer’s pets illustrated in traditional Asian style.
Along with being an introvert, do you consider yourself to be shy?
Yes! I dislike being the center of attention or speaking in public because I get nervous quickly. But, of course, I try not to reveal this to my customers.
Another look into Japanese folklore by Kawanabe Kysai, reinterpreted by Daldam.
How do you disguise your shyness, and what are some tips you can give to others?
To disguise my shyness, I usually try to think about something else, which allows me to escape reality briefly. Most of the time, I imagine cute things like cats and dogs. This keeps my face from turning red.
When others are paying attention, it’s a good idea to divert their attention by asking questions. It enables you to listen to their stories instead.
Photos © Daldam