Interview with June Jung of White Rabbit Tattoo.

Skin as a canvas.

Tattoos are huge today. Its a fact, plain and simple. But getting a tattoo is a lot of commitment and sometimes stress. Y'all know about Bang Bang right? A famous New York based tattoo artist who inked many celebs including Rihanna, Ariana Grande, Jessie J etc. Although he's good It would be a huge mistake to assume that Bang Bang is the only decent tattoo artist in NYC. As a huge fan of the tattoo culture I'd like to introduce you to June Jang one of the top female tattoo artists New York City has to offer. She's really talented and does all of her sketches on her iPad Pro (Guuurl whaaa? Awesome-much?). If you wanna know more about all things tats ... then keep on reading!

P.S. Don't forget to check out the pics after the text!

Vitalijs: There are many ways to express yourself like fashion or visual arts ... why as an artist you picked human skin as you canvas?
June: When I was young my dream was ... to make money ... doing something I really like. I always liked drawing but my parents were not very happy about it. They wanted me to go down a more typical way ... being a lawyer or accountant. So I became an accountant and was working for a company in South Korea but it was so boring. I couldn't take at one point and quit my job. Then I came to New York and was trying to figure out what to do ... because I needed to make some money to support myself (laughs). Then I saw some people with the tattoos and thought the profession of a tattoo artist would be really interesting since I always liked drawing. Out of all art forms I think tattooing is the easiest way to support yourself as an artist but also, its really interesting. The idea that when I tattoo for someone ... they have this tattoo in their lives forever. That idea fascinated me. Its really fun to make an image out of their ... head and to make it happen on their skin. I'm very happy when I see my work on someone ... so I guess thats why (laughs).

Vitalijs:  What can you tell us about the tattoo culture and how its changing?
June: So I think tattoo culture is kind of changing right now. The tattoos I'm doing now have more of a contemporary style. When people used to think of tattoos in was all about "Oh Prisoner", "Criminal" or "Yakuza"! That's how people used to think and everything was against tattoos. Some artists started to make it differently, make the tattoos look like abstract art, not with the hard lining and bright colors like it used to be. It started to change and that way people started to think like "Oh tattoos can be ... art. They don't have to look crazy or intense or ... make people scared". Now tattoos can make people look fashionable, artsy, fun and interesting. So tattoo culture before that was really undeground. People wanted to have tattoos to look strong or scary. But now people get tattoos to express themselves. "I love this art I'd love to have it on my arm so I can feel ... artsy" you know (laughs). This change is really good. Tattoos are getting a more positive reaction than before.

Vitalijs: I know that in countries like South Korea tattooing is illegal mostly because of a stereotype that tattoos are worn by the local gang members. I believe its pretty much the same situation in Japan where tattoos are mostly used by Yakuza. What is your response to that kind of conservatism?
June: So that really came from the gang culture. Especially in Japan the tattoo culture almost entirely started from Yakuza. That made people think that tattoos are only for gangs. Its not okay to have a tattoo because it makes you look ... bad. Inevitably. That kind of concept is still strong in Japan and Korea, people have a really conservative eye for that kind of thing there. Its really hard to change that since old generation can't change their mind about that. Its really popular among the younger generation though! Its so popular ... its crazy!

Vitalijs: Did you ever have to use a concealer to hide your tattoos? 
June: No, never but I was considering using it. When I travelled to see my parents in Korea I was sooooo scared to see my dad. My mom saw my tattoos on Facebook and ... didn't talk to me for months. She kept saying "Please! Please change your job"! (laughs). I was like "Can you please just be happy for me? I love my job". But when I go to Korea people see me as ... crazy, like I don't respect my body. Everyone would look at me, I could just feel people ... starring at me. So I visited my family the other day and was riding on a train and there was a woman sitting next to me. She stood up and said "Is this real?". I'm like "Yes". She asked me "Is this permanent?". I said "Yes..." (laughs). "Why did you get this? Its not even pretty, you should get something removable...". I was like "Well, I like it, I think its pretty". So, you know Korean society is very conservative and my parents are conservative also. I was scared to face my dad. I thought of travelling to Korea during Winter time only because that way I could cover the tattoos on my arms with long sleeves. Then one day he finally saw my tattoos ... and surprisingly it went okay (laughs). I mean I think he understands that I support myself by doing tattoos but ... they are not proud of what I do. They don't really tell anyone that I'm a tattoo artist they just say something like "Oh she's an artist ... she does ... graphics ... she ... paints" (laughs).

Vitalijs: Are there any "bad" tattoos you wouldn't recommend doing?
June: Em ... I wouldn't recommend doing the finger tattoos cause they fade really easily...
Vitalijs: Not even gonna lie I really always wanted to get one! 
June: (laughs) No, it doesn't look pretty afterwards. I used to work at St. Mark's Place and you know there are a lot of tattoo shops there. So people would just get drunk and get tattoos. They would come to the shop and get the crazy stuff. Some kids wanted to get the tats inside the lower lip and its really hard to work with and doesn't heal well. I would now refuse doing the inside of the lip. Now people know better. When I was studying tattoos I did a lot of names (BFs and GFs names). Then people would cover the names up because obviously sometimes relationships doesn't end well and there's no reason to have someone else's name on their bodies. But I mean if they really want ... why not? Its their choice (laughs). 

Vitalijs: Great! Anything else you want to add?
June: Em ... not really (laughs).
Vitalijs: Fair enough, thanks a lot! 
June: Thank you! 

 To check out June's amazing work follow the link here: https://www.junejungart.com