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Memories in Colors – Tattooist Ovenlee Interview

Ovenlee turns memories into permanent ink with abundant colors and soft lines. Get to know more about her art and herself in this tattooist Ovenlee interview.

Beautiful tattoos are not rare. But it’s harder to find tattoos that will make you smile. That’s why I have to interview South Korean tattooist Ovenlee. Her designs cheer you up and warm your heart.

With over 170k followers on Instagram, Ovenlee represents the Korean tattoo culture where fine lines and colors come together perfectly. Whether it’s an animal, food, or a family picture, Ovenlee has a way to make it adorable.

But what makes her work stand out is more than the design itself. Like any good tattoo, her art reflects a certain aesthetic, turns a memory permanent, or expresses an attitude.

In this interview with tattooist Ovenlee, we will peek into her dreamy, colorful world and learn what inspires her to keep creating the extraordinary.

Tattooist Ovenlee Interview

  • Hi Ovenlee, can you tell us about yourself and your tattoo style?

I am a calm painter. I tend to capture the serene moments of my objects because painting keeps me grounded.

Most of the objects of my drawings are about places and moments in life. And I also tattoo blooming flowers in fields and curvy, sophisticated plants.

  • I am curious, is Ovenlee a nickname or your real name?

It’s my nickname. This one time, I wanted to translate the warmth of an oven into a painting. So that’s why I brought with me an oven. And I added my last name, “Lee” to create my nickname Ovenlee.

  • Can you tell us how did you become a tattoo artist?

Actually, I didn’t plan on becoming a tattooist when I was in college. I was only uploading drawings to my Instagram. But then, someone wanted to get a tattoo of one of my drawings.

My friend, who was a tattooist at the time, gave him a tattoo based on my drawing. And it made me feel so proud. That was when I realized tattoos could be a permanent medium for my art. This concept was so fascinating that it encouraged me to start tattooing.

  • How do you come up with a tattoo idea? Where do you find inspiration?

I get inspired by my experiences and the photos I take.

I have been to places where nature was just gorgeous. And I couldn’t help drawing them down or taking photos of them. These precious memories become my fountain of inspiration.

Family photo tattoo by
Family photo tattoo by
  • Do you design the tattoos ahead or on set with the clients?

Most of my tattoos are based on stories and memories. So when a customer tells me their story, I draw it and send it to them by e-mail in advance. And they make some tweaks to their liking.

  • You have tattooed several cartoon characters or Disney characters. Which one is your favorite?

I like Disney movies very much, especially Winnie the Pooh. I’ve been working on a Pooh painting recently, and I like it a lot.

Winnie the Pooh tattoo by
Winnie the Pooh tattoo by
  • Can you share with us a tattoo and the inspiration behind it?

This question reminds me of Debussy’s music. The work is a painting I drew while listening to Debussy’s Moonlight.

Piano music tattoo by
Piano music tattoo by

I’ve put all the emotions I had then into the painting, and it captured the moment perfectly. That’s why this tattoo holds a special place in my heart.

  • Which placement will you suggest for most people?

I will recommend the upper arm because it has enough space and it’s easier to take care. Thus the tattoos maintain better.

  • Do you have a tattoo yourself?

Yes, I do. I got it from my teacher Sol. It’s a tattoo of Prague Castle based on a photo I took. I went there with my mom, and thus, the tattoo reminds me of the happy time we had together.

Prague Castle travel tattoo by
Prague Castle travel tattoo
  • What is the most challenging tattoo you have ever done? What makes it so difficult?

The most challenging tattoo I’ve done so far is a cover-up tattoo. The client wanted a tattoo to hide her Mongolian spots. The challenge is to find a pattern in proper colors that matches the spots. But it turned out to be a beautiful design.

Sunflower cover up tattoo by
Sunflower cover-up tattoo by
  • In your opinion, what is a good tattoo?

I think a good tattoo has to be personal. That means the design carries a meaning that is special to the wearer. After all, no matter how others see it, if it’s a meaningful tattoo, it’s a good one.

  • Have you tattooed yourself?

I’ve only done it once. It isn’t easy because, usually, tattooing requires both hands.

This tattoo is my first self-tattoo. It was an experiment, and I was very nervous in the process. Luckily it turned out to be a beautiful tattoo.

  • What design will you suggest as a first tattoo?

I highly recommend flower tattoos. They are versatile because they can be big or small and still be beautiful.

It will be even better if the flower holds a special meaning. For example, birth flowers are a good idea.

Girly butterfly and flower tattoo by
Prague Castle travel tattoo
  • Does the pandemic change your life and work as a tattooist?

Yes, it does.

Before the pandemic, I had a lot of international clients. But as overseas traveling becomes more difficult now, the number of international tourists decreases. So does international bookings.

Moreover, fewer domestic clients are getting tattoos as well. Covid has been very severe in South Korea recently, and many are infected. That resulted in canceled or postponed reservations.

But I try my best not to be discouraged by the situation. On the contrary, the more difficult the time is, the more I want to give strength to others through my art. That’s why I have focused on drawing bright and uplifting paintings lately.

  • Besides tattooing, what are your hobbies or things you love to do?

My hobby is making pottery. I majored in ceramics in college. (My major has become a hobby. haha )Sometimes I draw my pictures on pottery and make cute motifs.

  • What is your goal as an artist? Any plans recently?

I always enjoy meeting new people, especially those from different cultural backgrounds. And maybe I will do guest work or live in another country in the future.

My ultimate goal is to create art in my style as an artist. I believe that my expression of colors and lines will touch the hearts of many. And this goal drives me forward and keeps me motivated with my drawing practice.

That’s all for the tattooist Ovenlee interview. If you want to see more of her work, check out her Instagram profile! Have a question for Ovenlee? Leave a comment down below!