Tattoos have played a huge role in the history of humanity. According to each culture and country, they represent something special about society. For many, they were religious symbols that only important characters of society could wear. In other cultures, they marked the victories of great soldiers and those with more tattoos were seen as heroes. Nowadays, even when it's not precisely in the same way, we tend to follow some ancient standards when it comes to this form of body art. We get tattoos to commemorate a personal achievement, to decorate our bodies, or to show an opinion about something. However, despite the huge openness regarding this art, there's still a big taboo surrounding tattoos. This is so huge that in some countries like Japan or South Korea they are still considered an illegal activity unless performed by licensed doctors.
That conservative stubbornness of linking this form of body decoration with criminal activities and gangs hasn't prevented tattooists from making the craft they conceive as a form of art. That's the case of Pitta Kkm, whose original and unique style has become a landmark of South Korean modern popular culture.
Merging the traditional esthetics of his country with elements from, let's say, the western world, Pitta Kkm makes outstanding tattoos that transport his customers into the depths of traditional Korean folktales and traditions, clearly linked with modernity and our present. He’s mainly inspired by the traditional Korean folk paintings and the ancient esthetics of Dancheong, the decorative and colorful wood art present in Korean temples and sacred artifacts. In that way, when he adapts an object that isn’t precisely from this tradition, he transforms it into an oriental design.
Although being a tattoo artist in South Korea isn’t as easy as it would be in any other country in the world, his style and artistic vision have trespassed the geographical frontiers, and now he’s become a sort of tattoo celebrity who makes presentations and collaborations in many European countries. Moreover, his designs, which show a highly ingrained connection to his roots, are now a referent for tourists who, as he explains, believe his tattoos are the best souvenir they can bring from their trip to South Korea.
But more than just a famous art you can get as a souvenir, Pitta Kkm’s designs are deeper and far more relevant. While they show rebelliousness in their use of traditional and sometimes sacred symbols mixed with elements from popular culture –not to mention the fact that it’s a forbidden activity–, his art also transports us to the realms of the fantastical, to the world where color reigns and shapes tell a story of great tradition. And what better way to honor this culture than having it with you forever on your skin?
If you want to see more of his impressive tattoos, take a look at his Instagram page: @pitta_kkm
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