32-year-oldÂ Girin studied animation and cartooning at Sejong University in Seoul and taught at an art academy for a while. Still, he was more intrigued by tattoo art and learning the craft. Self-taught and beginning a career in tattooing in 2017, Girin enjoys utilizing a three-needle liner to give a great deal of texture and depth to dragons, warriors, gods, and more. Because he focuses on ferocious characters in his fine-line body art, he often receives requests for guest spots outside of South Korea, such as a forthcoming one in Australia. There is also significant customer interest in a future visit to the United States.
Above: A black-and-gray tattoo of the Japanese thunder god Raijin.
The majority of Girinâ€™s artwork has precise details and white accents that make the composition stand out.
Please explain your artistic inspirations.
Iâ€™ve had an interest in Oriental art since I was a child. I enjoy watching animated fantasy films and reading martial arts-related novels. I also like Asian armor and weapons design, so I got inspired and drew them. In tattooing, I didnâ€™t want to duplicate the traditional Irezumi style; instead, I wanted to create my own.
The intention of Girinâ€™s work is not to replicate traditional Asian art exactly; rather, it displays the impact of animation art and illustration.
What are your favorite animals or characters you like to tattoo the most?
The dragon, tiger, and hannya masks are some of my favorites. I enjoy all Asian characters, from Raijin to Fujin [the Japanese gods of thunder and wind], and animation ones like Son Goku.
A rendition of Namakubi (a freshly severed head).
What is something that the public may not know about you?
Iâ€™m not a professional at Irezumi. My favorite images are suitable for an Irezumi-type, it reflects some extent, but I canâ€™t say I do that tattoo style. I think my work is more cartoonish and illustrative.
Girin employs a thin liner for everything from outlines to whip shading.
There is a lot of detail in your work. Do you use smaller needle sizes?
I only use a 0803 liner.
The bulk of your work consists of black-and-gray inks. Why is monochrome preferred over color?
I am self-taught; handling color ink and doing it well is challenging. But Iâ€™m gradually studying colors and will soon share some works online.
A sketch of a wolf influenced by Japanese mythology.
What is challenging about using color pigments?
I only drew in black and white and lacked inspiration when I attempted to use color. If you do not use color inks properly, the skin will not accurately reflect the full range of colors. And color requires twice as much time to complete compared to black and gray.
The torso and sleeves of one of Girinâ€™s best tattoos.
How many sessions and total hours did it take to complete the above art piece?
It took a long time, about a year. There were times when the customer came to the shop once a week and sometimes once a month. I usually work 3 to 4 hours a day.
Mythical creatures are regal and graceful.
Do you do 3 to 4 hours so the client can withhold the pain or for other reasons?
My neck disc prevents me from working for long periods. My back, neck, and wing bones become extremely painful when I have a tattoo for an extended period.
The tattooist Girin in a Korean studio.
Daily, do you serve more than one client?
I interact with two customers daily, which amounts to eight to ten work hours.
Photos Â© Girin