If you’re a fan of cute tattoos and haven’t yet heard of GOODMORNING, allow us to introduce you. The 24 year old South Korean tattoo artist is best known for his signature cartoon animal designs. His minimal critters—which reside in the fictional community of Goodmorningtown—are so popular, in fact, that they’ve led GOODMORNING to amass an impressive 333,000 followers on Instagram [at the time of publication] over his four year career as a tattooer.
What exactly is Goodmorningtown, though? Aside from being the name of the artist’s brand, it’s also “a place where all kinds of characters—or I should say my imaginary friends—live,” GOODMORNING tells Inside Out. “I create characters that reside there, so if you want to meet my friends then come to Goodmorningtown! Everyone’s welcome. If you want, you can become a citizen, too.”
Here, we talk to GOODMORNING—our most recent guest artist at Inside Out studio—about his journey as a tattooer (it started by way of a Mexican restaurant), what it’s like working in South Korea, and the story behind his first tattoo.
On how he gets inspired: “I get inspiration from everywhere, even from just the ordinary things that happen in our daily lives because these things happen in Goodmorningtown, too. Sometimes on my way to the toilet or to the closet, for example, I’ll randomly be inspired and start drawing. I carry a small notebook everywhere so I can draw when inspiration strikes. But if I really want to motivate myself to create more flashes, I’ll also sometimes go to a museum.”
On his journey to becoming a tattooer: “Long story short, I wanted to open a Mexican restaurant here in Korea and to open it, I needed money. That’s why I started doing tattoos. At first, I was doing more Old School [American Traditional] style designs, but I was having a really hard time getting customers. I had to change my drawing style in order to attract more clients, so that’s how Goodmorningtown was born. It worked! I suddenly gained a lot of followers. My style now would be defined as being less structured and more free-flowing. And I’m not going to open a Mexican restaurant anymore. I realize I’m not very talented at cooking, so I’ll stick with tattoos for now.”
On his favorite thing about the job: “I love how people get to keep my creatures on their body. I feel like I’m giving them soulmates.”
On his first time: “My first tattoo is on my arm—it’s of a Hawaiian girl and I got it done by Ota [@otatattooer] at Wild Rose Tattoo in Seoul. A lot of my friends got their first tattoos from him too because we’ve always thought of him as the best Old School artist in Korea. Back in the day, I only ever thought about Old School tattoos.”
On the future of the tattoo industry in South Korea: “I think the industry will change completely. Currently you have to attain a medical license to do tattoos legally, but I don’t think that should be a qualification for becoming a tattooer. You need to be creative, not book-smart. If it indeed becomes legal to everyone, I think the tattoo industry here will become very competitive.”
On his advice to new tattooers: “Be patient, and if you don’t think you have your style yet, keep drawing.”
On the story behind his signature gummy bear design: “He has a name actually; it’s ‘Booger Bear!’ Once a client asked me to draw a gummy bear and that’s how Booger Bear came to be born. That first drawing was nothing like the Booger Bear now though—I changed a bunch of its features because I wanted to create my own signature version of it.” [You can see one of the original Goodmorningtown Booger Bears here].
Like Booger Bear? Get a semi-permanent tattoo of the design from GOODMORNING’s just-launched collab with Inkbox.
On his average customer: “These days most of my clients are women in their 20 and 30s. Back when I did Old School tattoos though, almost all of my clients were men—now they only make up around 30 percent of the people I tattoo.”
On his all-time favorite artists: “My favorite artists are definitely Keith Haring and Yoon Jong Shin. I disliked Keith Haring at first because he was too famous. But after going to his exhibitions, I realized that he is the pioneer of the style that I pursue. He really helped make doodles a genre of art. As a doodler, I have so much respect for him now. Yoon Jong Shin is a singer-songwriter in Korea but I love how he performs well in other fields like movies or tv shows, too. He doesn’t fear getting out of the comfort zone.”
On the one person he’d love to tattoo: “I really want to tattoo Wan [@wan_tattooer]. He did my favorite tattoo that I have on my own body—a design of Keith Haring getting arrested—and his flash designs are just unbelievable.”
If you liked our profile on Inside Out studio guest artist GOODMORNING (AKA Goodmorningtown), who just collaborated with Inkbox, make sure to check out Curt Montgomery’s story here. (He’s got an Inkbox collection, too.)