Interview with World Class Realism Tattooer “Q Tattoos”


“Q Tattoos” is a tattooer who I have followed/been very impressed with for quite some time now.

Q specializes in hyper realism work, but the interesting thing is that while artists in this genre typically seem to focus on one or the other, Q is one of the few that I’ve seen that seems to have mastered both black and grey realism in addition to color realism.

I got the chance to do a written interview with him below, and hope you all enjoy the read.

You are now one of the top level artists in the realism industry for sure. What three things would you say have been most beneficial towards your growth as a tattooer?

Personally, I don’t find myself to be one of the top artists in realism; however, I think the ‘crave’ is a single important factor to help me get where I am right now. The crave for becoming like the legends we saw in the previous generation. I craved to obtain the levels and techniques and wanted to pioneer the path that no one had done it. So I had taken on more pieces and spent more time each week and month. The first three years when I started as a tattooist, I spent about 10 months per year for visiting different cities for the conventions and doing guest works around the world while being away from South Korea. During this time, I was meeting many legendary tattoo artists and looking for good clients.

What has been the most difficult part of your journey being a tattooer?
Time has been the challenge till this day for me. The fighting against time is still the homework to solve. The working hour and not enough canvas’ (skin) to ink on.
Where did the majority of your inspiration come from? People, places, things, etc.
Pinterest haha. I get inspiration from communicating with my clients and also from many artists of various genres whom I like. I imagine how they would have dealt with the difficulties they face while expressing art. When it comes to realistic expression and feeling, I often get inspired by Classical painters such as Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Rubens, Rembrandt, Jacques Louis David and so on. I like the feel that the Dutch genre painting gives. 
What is usually going through your mind as you are tattooing people?
Normally, I attempt to engage in a conversation with my inner self. At the beginning of each work, I ask myself some questions about how I will proceed with the work based on the condition of the skin and so on. And as the session progresses sometimes I think about random things. It really differs each time.
Who is your ideal client? Three things you wish they all knew?
Good skin, artistic freedom, patience, and maybe to remember to tip lol.
Favorite city you’ve been to and why?
I would like to say, it is Toronto, because Q Tattoos bloomed in Toronto, and the city has the most stories and friends, then an amazing life it has provided for me. I think there will be many more things to come in Toronto for me.
Any little pet peeves in the tattoo world right now?
When people (both artists and clients) do not have respect for basic things. This is true for any other fields, however since there is a lot more freedom in the tattoo world, naturally, I think we encounter disrespectful experiences more often. It annoys me, but at the same time, I understand that is what the tattoo world is about. It is actually quite exciting to observe how there are little changes happening in our world.
What are the three best changes you’ve seen in the tattoo world from the time you first entered it up until now?
Flexible schedule? I can travel, work, rest when I want, while most people are working; I think that is the first thing. The second is that I don’t think I have huge fame, but certainly having more fame than earlier of my life gives me the feeling that I am recognized by people. I know this is childish, but still, I like that. And in contrast to my early time, now I am rewarded for the efforts I have put in. Ah also, foreign friends. People might find this funny or strange but in South Korea, there weren’t used to be many foreigners and the place was closed for foreign culture. So when I was young I dreamt of having many friends who are foreigners. I think at least I have achieved that dream.
I know you make great money already, but if you made $50,000 per full day session, how many days per week would you prefer to tattoo and why?
I would like to work one to two days per week. Regardless of how much I earn that is one of my goals in the next few years. I would like to dedicate more time on preparing for my work and by working only one or two days, I believe it will lead to making the best results. I have been reducing my workloads and preparing for having such a work culture. If I become an artist who gets paid $50,000 per day, the tattoo isn’t going to be something can be simply “printed”.

Thanks for your time Q!  Hopefully I’ll get to collect a tattoo from you one day.  Follow Q to see more of his incredible work- @Q_Tattoos

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