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Yoshi: The Visionary Tattoo Artist Blending Cultures and Styles

Exploring the Artistic Journey and Eye-Centric Creations of Yoshi from Third Eye Studio

Tattoofilter in Interviews

Yoshi, a renowned tattoo artist based at Third Eye Studio in Busan, has been making waves in the tattoo world with his unique blackwork designs. Blending his multicultural heritage and years of experience, Yoshi's work features intricate engravings, halftone, and screentone textures, with a particular focus on eye motifs. His journey from traditional Japanese and American styles to his current obsession with eyes showcases his evolution as an artist. In this interview, we dive into his inspirations, techniques, and future plans.

Can you tell us more about your background and how your multicultural heritage has influenced your work?

Korea and Japan, though geographically close and culturally similar, have distinct traditions that have influenced me in unique ways. From Japan, I absorbed a deep appreciation for preserving old traditions and cultural practices, which is evident in my use of classic engraving styles. On the other hand, Korea taught me to embrace and integrate new cultures, fostering a spirit of innovation and adaptability. This blend allows me to create a unique tattooing style that combines the traditional engraving techniques with fine line work, merging the old with the new in a harmonious way.

Your journey started with traditional Japanese and American styles. What led you to transition into your current blackwork engraving style?

I began my journey with traditional Japanese tattoo styles, deeply rooted in rich cultural heritage. Initially, I avoided fine line work because many veteran tattoo artists dismissed it as more akin to permanent makeup rather than true tattooing. This perspective held me back for some time. However, my perspective shifted about two years ago while working in Australia. A client requested a fine line tattoo, prompting me to experiment with 01RL and 03RL needles. To my surprise, I found the process incredibly enjoyable and began incorporating fine line techniques into my work.

Since childhood, I’ve been fascinated by drawing eyes. One day, it struck me how compelling it would be to create eye designs using just line weights. I experimented with this idea, and it turned out to be a success! This led me to develop my unique engraving style, blending traditional techniques with fine line artistry, particularly focusing on eye motifs. This approach allows me to create intricate, meaningful tattoos that resonate deeply with my clients and myself.

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Your work recently focuses heavily on eye motifs. What draws you to this particular symbol, and what does it represent for you?

I am deeply inspired by the Korean proverb, "The eyes are a window to the mind." Eyes reveal so much about a person, especially their emotions—fear, anger, sadness, hate, contempt, and disgust. Unlike words, eyes don't lie. This honesty and depth captivate me. I've always enjoyed drawing eyes because they convey powerful, unspoken stories and truths. Incorporating eyes into my work allows me to explore and express these complex emotions through my tattoos, creating a profound connection between the art and the viewer.

Your work is highly custom. How do you collaborate with clients to create unique designs that resonate with their stories, specially when many of them share the eye as the main motif?

Absolutely! Many of my clients come to me for eye tattoos to commemorate important memories, such as their deceased parents, grandparents, favorite stars, anime characters, or even themselves. They usually send me a picture of the eye they want and describe the style they envision. I then create a design based on their input and share it with them. We collaborate closely, making adjustments until the design perfectly captures their vision. Once we're both satisfied with the design, I proceed with the tattoo.

How did your first experience tattooing someone else influence your confidence and approach as a tattoo artist?

My first experience tattooing someone else was on my best friend, using a 03RL needle for the first time. It was a brave moment for me, but thankfully, it turned out quite well. This experience boosted my confidence and encouraged me to tackle more complex techniques with ease.

What has been the most challenging part of your 14-year tattooing career?

The most challenging part of my 14-year career is happening now as I prepare to move to the United States. This transition represents my biggest challenge yet. The tattoo scene in Korea has become quite stagnant, making it less stimulating for me as an artist. While tattooing itself has become second nature, navigating this move and adapting to a new environment is both exciting and daunting.

You mentioned that your first tattoo was a memorial for your father. How do personal memories and experiences shape your tattoo art?

Initially, I started with letters and drawings, but I found them too direct. I transitioned to using eye motifs because they are more subtle and profound. When I look at the tattoo of my late mother’s eye on my arm, it brings back all my memories of her. However, for others, it simply sparks curiosity. This indirect approach allows my tattoos to hold deep personal meaning for me, while also inviting intrigue and interpretation from others, making the artwork both intimate and universally engaging.

You have tattoos that commemorate your family. Can you share more about the significance of these tattoos and how they make you feel?

Birth, life, and death are the most important aspects of our existence, yet we often overlook them. After my parents passed away, I deeply regretted not hugging my mother more or telling her I loved her. These regrets taught me the importance of expressing love and appreciation to those who matter most. Now, my commemorative tattoos serve as constant reminders to cherish and connect with my family. Each time I see these tattoos, I'm reminded to say and do everything I can for my loved ones while they are still here, ensuring I don’t have the same regrets in the future.

What are your future plans and aspirations for your tattoo career as you prepare to move to the United States?

As I prepare to move to the United States, my aspirations extend beyond tattooing. I aim to establish myself as an art brand, creating and selling my art products to a broader audience. Becoming more famous and recognized for my work is also a significant goal. I want to share my art with the world in various forms, not just through tattoos, and hope to inspire others with my creativity and passion.

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