We had the good fortune of connecting with K Tak and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi K, we’d love to start by asking you about lessons learned. Is there a lesson you can share with us?
Before I became a tattoo artist, I was working at a very toxic work environment (figuratively speaking) in Down Town Los Angeles. I would call my mom who is in Korea every morning and cry, sharing the difficulties I faced on a daily basis at work. Let alone being a person who always had a hard time being bound by routines and rules ever since I was young, the toxicity in the office felt like a prison sentence every morning. I had no ambitions because there was no interests, which made me depressed since I was tasked to do things that did nothing to help advance my career.

Then, I finally decided to take the risk and do something I love even if it meant there could be failure. There is a saying, “You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” So I pursued to be a tattoo artist in my late twenties.
Becoming a tattoo artist definitely was not an overnight career change. When I failed or struggled at tattooing, my love for it kept pushing me to try even harder.

As of today, I am eager to work another day. At home or studio, I’m up at night thinking about designs I need to make for the next customer. Practicing and always thinking of ways to improve my performance and designs. I believe trying my best every second with customers who put their trust in me will become my pride and a way to repay them.

If I didn’t quit the job I hated and continued with that career path, I wouldn’t have never found out my own potential, the happiness and my love for tattooing. The most important lesson I’ve learned.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I think the hardest thing about my job is the designing. Unless my customers get permission from the original artist or wants something universally known, I don’t reuse my art or copy other people’s work so that every tattoo can be unique to my customers.

The biggest difference between being a fine artist and a tattoo artist is that instead of making decisions by myself, I have to work with my customers as a collaboration. Sometimes that could be a challenge because I need to convince my customers to get something more personal rather than create a copy from Pinterest or Google images. Also I’m an artist who doesn’t tattoo anything that supports discrimination, so filtering some requests ideas are needed. Maintaining my work ethics with a set of rules sometimes can make things difficult but it’s also very rewarding. I think through my work ethics, my customers usually comes back for more tattoos and that makes me very happy because that means they enjoyed their first tattoo session with me.

Also, I don’t want to be an intimidating tattoo artist. I wanted to name my shop “Banana” so my customers can see me and my shop as a place and person they can feel comfortable with. I think the warm, friendly concept sets me and my shop apart from the others. I want my customers to feel like they are hanging out at their friend’s place. I feel like this works because nobody wants to feel vulnerable when they are getting a tattoo.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Nobody believes me but I’m actually an introvert. So I don’t like to go to loud places or places that I have to socialize. All my close friends are similar to me so I probably would take them to somewhere that is quiet and chill like a lounge or a bar. I think the only loud place I would take my friend would be Disneyland. Just like everyone else, I love going to Disneyland. I even play Disney movies for my customers so they can magically forget the pain!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to give a shout to my loving family in Korea, although they are far from where I am, they gave me the opportunity to study in America and supported all my decisions I’ve made growing up in the states.

I am a self-taught tattoo artist, and I faced many difficulties along the way. But I was lucky to have a partner, my loving husband Dae-Han Yi, who is a Concept Artist / Director. He shared his knowledge in the technical aspect of art, which has made a great impact on my career. He has never doubted me even when I was at self-doubt, was always supportive, and pushed me to advance my career. Learning from him has truly been blessing. He has been greatest husband and mentor through a new chapter in my life!

And of course a big shout out to all my customers and friends who have put their trust in me to allow me to tattoo them. I would not be where I am today without them!

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ktattoola/

Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/k-tattoo-los-angeles

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