The Tattoos of Dareum With an Oil Pastel Style

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1994 marked the birth of Da Hye Lee (aka Dareum) in Cheongju, South Korea. Her family relocated to Seoul during childhood, and she has remained there ever since. After deciding early on that visual and fashion design was not her calling, she abandoned her undergraduate major to pursue a career as a tattoo artist. She achieved professional status in 2018. Dareum’s passion for drawing with oil pastels and colored pencils has transferred to her tattoos. While some may argue that small tattoos lack value in the industry, clients can select what they desire, and Dareum’s work is technically inventive and expressive.

She operates a private tattoo studio in Yongsan, central Seoul, north of the Han River. She loves traveling and has done plenty, plus guest spots in Paris, London, and Tokyo.

This interview explores Dareum’s oil pastel ideas and objectives, the influences of modern European art on her work, and a bit about herself.

Above: A floral tattoo mimicking oil pastel and pencil by Dareum.
oil pastel drawing of strawberries on paper by dareum
Before tattooing strawberries onto the epidermis, the artist produces a preliminary sketch.

Kindly enlighten Scene360 readers on how your oil pastel drawings are transformed into tattoo art.

My artistic process involves drawing inspiration from photographs, saved images, and real flowers. Before applying a tattoo to my clients, I create meticulous pastel drawings on paper, focusing on replicating the textures and details of these various materials. This step is both enjoyable and vital in ensuring that the essence of the source is faithfully transferred onto the skin.

While I have yet to venture into freehand tattooing, I aspire to take on larger and more challenging projects. This would allow me to push my creative boundaries and offer clients a unique and personalized tattoo experience.

strawberry cocktail drawing tattoo on shoulder
Dareum’s illustrative approach to a fruity cocktail.

So, you propose to apply oil pastels straight to the skin of particular clients.

I have loved drawing with crayons since I was young. When I got a tattoo, I started making designs using crayons and oil pastels because I wanted to do work I liked and enjoyed. I want to continue to develop it because transferring the textures of various materials expressed on paper to the skin is fun.

loving couple kissing oil pastel color pencils mixed media drawing
This artwork (created on paper using pencils, colored pencils, crayons, and oil pastels) is packed with love.

Small tattoos may need touch-ups over time or become less recognizable due to the skin’s blurring of pigment. Does it concern you? Do you notify customers about expectations?

My customers come to get touch-ups infrequently. It’s a characteristic of my work. I pay attention to the first session as much as possible so customers don’t need a touch-up. I always explain the healing of color work before tattooing and collect and organize the healing of my tattoo work.

impression, sunrise inspired tattoo, sunset
The tattooer applies her artistic interpretation to the painting “Impression, Sunrise” (1872) by Claude Monet.

Who are some of the artists that inspire you?

Claude Monet’s paintings most influence me. I often worked on tattoos as a tribute to Monet but gave it my styling. I like nature, flowers, brush touches, and colors found in his paintings. Also, the colors I often use were taken from Monet’s work. I also like Henri Matisse. Paintings using lines were also influenced by Matisse’s work. I like the feeling of a free and soft line, so I pursue a free picture that deviates from the designated form.

oil pastel drawing of sea and sunset by dareum
Dareum made this energetic oil pastel and crayon work inspired by the art of Monet.

Do you have any favorite art movements?

Indeed, my favorite art movements are Impressionism and Fauvism. Monet’s use of vibrant and free-flowing colors in Impressionism and Matisse’s expressive line drawings in Fauvism greatly resonate with my work as a tattoo artist. I appreciate the freedom of expression and the unique use of color and line in these movements, which I incorporate into my hand-drawn tattoos.

waterlilies (monet inspired) by dareum
A reinterpretation of Monet’s water lilies.

Your pieces mimic oil pastel drawings; this is uncommon in the historical tattooing tradition (from tribal to sailor). Is it innovative?

Yes, I do consider it an innovation. While I may not be the originator, challenging and evolving tattooing into a style distinct from what we’ve seen is a step toward advancing the tattoo industry. It will lead to the gradual creation of new tattoo art styles, and I support embracing these new challenges. My tattoo work aims to one day work on free drawing on skin rather than paper.

iris flower in cup, drawing
Should the iris in a cup be half-filled or half-empty?

Are children’s books also an inspiration to you?

Yes, children’s books are indeed an inspiration to me. Their whimsical and imaginative illustrations often go hand-in-hand with the cute and expressive drawing style that I enjoy. I aspire to create storybook-like illustrations in my tattoo work, incorporating the charm and creativity often found in children‘s book art into my designs.

an assortment of oil pastel drawings on paper by dareum
A variety of Dareum’s free-flowing artworks on paper.

Are there any specific children’s books that have graphically influenced you?

I’m not affected by any particular children’s book. However, I always look around random children’s books when visiting bookstores or libraries. Having no hobbies in reading, I am more interested in the imagery, so I am very interested in fairy tale books where paintings are the main. I also want to do a fairy tale illustration someday.

rainbow sunset sky with palm trees tattoo
A rainbow sunset resembling wax crayon textures.

Beyond your professional life, what else do online readers not know about you?

I have never opened up about my personal life on my social media channel. I often wonder if my clients know anything about me at all. I am somewhat introverted and want to separate my work and personal life. However, my thinking is gradually changing, and I’m considering eventually sharing some personal aspects of my daily life on my tattoo channel. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

tattooer dareum in private studio
Tattoo artist Dareum, age 29, in her private studio.

Provide some hints as to what you plan to reveal about yourself.

I’m quite a homebody. Apart from the typical hobby of drawing, I enjoy playing video games. I like Nintendo‘s Animal Crossing or Sims, but I’m into League of Legends the longest.

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