“I still can’t believe I’m getting a fucking tattoo.” Tom, a Chincha writer and photographer, breathes out just moments after feeling the needle prick against his thigh. There was no turning back, Tom’s virgin skin was officially inked.
Chincha helped Tom get his very first tattoo by setting up an appointment with Johnathan Fleming, a talented tattoo artist who works from inside his very own apartment in Seoul. Tom was excited, but that didn’t wash away any fear he had of needles. “I might pass out.” Tom warns us. We laugh and say he’ll be fine and he responds, “No, really guys. I might pass out.” We were a bit nervous for Tom, but not too worried because we knew he was in good hands with the creative Seoul-based tattooist.
Johnathan, who got his first tattoo when he was 18, is a self-taught artist who started out practising on himself and others with a kit a friend bought from Ebay. “I started working on myself and friends of mine and then it just went from there.” He finishes, “Knowing they would trust me enough to have it on their body forever was a very, very powerful thing.”
Although most people would hesitate to get a tattoo at someone’s home, Tom was sold after seeing Johnathan’s portfolio. His work clearly illustrated that he was versatile, creative, and skilled.
So what did Tom get exactly? He wanted something that connected him with Korea, so he got a ….waffle. Yes, a waffle. With hands and feet
“As soon as we came to Korea, one of the first places we stopped at was a waffle joint. Waffles are just so popular in Korea…So why not, right? This is going to be my first tattoo. I’ve been travelling. I’ve been living in Korea for a year or two. This is something to remember Korea by.”
The whole “waffle making” process took about an hour and this included Johnathan drawing the tattoo out, shaving Tom’s super hairy thighs, and comforting him with truffles whenever the pain just got a little too much. But in the end, Tom was more than satisfied with the results and was already thinking about a second tattoo. “Maybe my next tattoo can be a pancake, some bacon, or a bottle of syrup on the other thigh.”
If you or a friend is thinking about getting fresh ink, check out Johnathan’s work here. But be quick, he’s leaving the country soon.
To see Johnathan in action and Tom getting his skin de-virginized, watch Tom’s personal vlog here.
Images and words by Emily Ann Hodges.