Cold Gray's tattoos make me think of meditative moments: a quick intake of breath, a savored kiss, slow moving birds in flight, and silent twirling smoke. His work is highly romantic; each tattoo exudes pensive atmospheric moods and reticent memories. It's this distinct essence that adds to the awe-inspiring value of Cold Gray's work. Not to mention the absolute jaw dropping hyperrealism that seems so effortless it's almost unbelievable.
One of the most inspiring artists living in Seoul, Cold Gray was kind enough to expound on his incredible work with us.
JM: How did you get into tattooing and why were you drawn to the art form?
CG: Since I was young, I liked painting and wanted to be a painter. In my mid-twenties, I went to a tattoo shop where my friend worked. That’s when I got to know about the tattoo culture, and I became an apprentice to become a tattoo artist. I have been drawing realistic paintings for a long time which results in my tattoo work to become realistic style. But I enjoy watching different genres of paintings.
What inspires your artwork? What are your favorite artists, books, or films?
I value my inspiration in various places. I am inspired by what I see and hear from photographers’ work, graphic design, graffiti, contemporary art, and so on. My favorite artists are Gerhard Richter, Man Ray, Rembrandt, Odd Nerdrum, Dürer, Damien Hirst, Franz Kline, and so on.
What are your favorite tattoos to do? What is your process in creating a realism tattoo?
I do not prefer any specific theme of images as tattoos. I try to find images which will look good when they are transformed into an actual tattoo.
What do you do when you’re not working, or when you’re on vacation?
I love traveling overseas. And also taking walks with my dog.
You’re one of the most incredible and in demand artists in Seoul, but tattoos continue to be illegal. How do artists like yourself deal with the legality of creating your artwork?
Thank you for the compliment. There are risks to live as a tattoo artist in a country where there is no system for tattoos. I think it is my role to deliver good quality tattoos and awareness of correct tattoo culture to Korea. That’s what I can do as for now.
What does 2018 look like for you? Any collaborations, travel, or new materials you hope to work with?
I plan to do a tattoo tour to the countries I have not visited in the past. Though I have not yet set up an exact schedule but would love to visit the UK, Hong Kong, and so on. Encountering with unfamiliar or famous artists during trips always excites me.