With a rumored two-year waiting list, 1.6 million followers on Instagram, and famous clientele, acclaimed Los Angeles tattoo artist Dr. Woo has been called “the most in-demand tattooist in the world.”
Woo's instantly recognizable style, featuring intricate fine-line and hyper-real designs, places him at the forefront of the L.A. black and gray movement. "I developed my style by trial and error," said Woo. "It wasn’t a very specific intention to do this. I kind of tattooed in many different styles and figured out that this is what I was actually passionate about. Over the years it kind of evolved. Never something that was predetermined. I worked for a long time with my head down, and when I looked up, this is what it was."
Woo's impressive list of celebrity clients includes Miley Cyrus, Drake, Cara Delevingne, Sarah Hyland, Frances Bean Cobain and Frank Ocean to name just a few.
Back in 2015, Emilia Clarke got her very first tattoo (a bumblebee on her pinkie) from Dr. Woo. In September 2018 Clarke followed her Game of Thrones co-stars Sophie Turner and Maisie Williams with her own final season ink: three flying baby dragons on her right wrist.
Following a ten-year stint at Shamrock Social Club on the famed Sunset Strip, Dr. Woo opened his own private shop, HIDEAWAY at Suite X. The studio’s secret Hollywood location is only revealed once a highly coveted appointment has been confirmed.
Woo said, "Right now, I have a certain amount of appointments that I release as I discover my schedule. There’s a lot of travel going on, a lot of different projects that I’m doing. There’s supposedly a long waitlist. It's more about just getting an appointment."
"[The palm tree is] probably my most requested tattoo. That, and the Dodgers logo. I’m a Lakers fan. That’s my sport." - Dr. Woo
"On an appointment when I tattoo, it’s really easy. I like to just meet the person beforehand, I get a little idea of what the tattoo’s going to be. Show me maybe some reference, then I draw it on the spot, show you the size, and then we do it right then and there."
“I’m a proud Angeleno. I draw inspiration from L.A. all the time.” - Dr. Woo
"I’m a proud Angeleno," said Woo. "I draw inspiration from L.A. all the time: the weather, the culture, the people. I really feel that I represent, in my art, the city that I’m from, whether it be palm trees, the beach, the ocean. A lot of people associate those motifs with Los Angeles."
Woo continues, "The L.A. tattoo scene is so unique. You have every kind of tattooing here. The fine line black and gray was born here and I come from that technical application. You see it throughout the world now and it's really popular - the portraits, super detailed, landscapes, all these things. It was really born out of L.A. in the '60s Chicano culture. It’s a very individual thing here, and L.A. takes a lot of pride in that in the tattoo community."
In November 2017, Woo visited Australia for the first time ever, hosting a one-day residency at Hunter & Fox Tattoo in Sydney. In collaboration with Discover Los Angeles, Dr. Woo was in town to shine a light on the edge and depth of the iconic city’s creative scene. Thanks to Discover Los Angeles, five lucky Aussies joined an exclusive list of Hollywood royalty that have been inked by Dr. Woo when he selected their L.A.-inspired tattoo ideas.
"I don’t know anyone in the Australian tattoo scene, all I know is they are so damn good at tattooing," said Woo. "I don’t know if it's because they’re 'ocean-locked/landlocked' or whatever you might call it, but sometimes when you’re so far away from the rest of the world, you take information and do with it what you can. All aspects of their tattoo scene - from fine line to traditional Japanese, color, black and grey – some of the top tattooers in Australia are some of the best I’ve ever seen."
Before he became a world-famous tattoo artist, Woo was a twentysomething budding entrepreneur who wanted to start his own clothing line. Since then, he's come full circle - a regular on the global fashion show circuit, Woo has collaborated with Japanese brand, Sacai and H&M's now-defunct influencer brand, Nyden.
In December 2018, Dr. Woo collaborated with Japanese lifestyle brand Neighborhood and released the limited edition "Booze" ceramic incense chamber. The unique piece of functional art depicts a tattooed hand clutching a rose topped with a skull. The inscriptions on three sides of the base read "DR. WOO," "Meet you there," and "Los Angeles * Tokyo."
"I was born in North Hollywood, I grew up in the Agoura Hills area. Every day after school we’d drive down to Melrose and skate and mess around. Go to the beach. During summers it was cool, you could go dirt biking, snowboarding, surfing all in the same day." - Dr. Woo
Woo said, "I went to The Broad museum yesterday and I totally forgot how much art we have in the city of L.A. LACMA, MOCA, The Broad. All these places and the great museums. It was super great to reconnect with all those options. I took my son and he loved it. L.A.’s got a great cultural art scene. Downtown L.A. is a very cool place. People know about it, but it’s still coming up. There’s so many great restaurants, Grand Central Market, Union Station, Walt Disney Concert Hall, Little Tokyo. Go Downtown."
"The sushi in L.A. is really good," said Woo. "We are very, very fortunate. Sometimes I take it for granted. It’s endless! If you want to go super high end, budget, reservations, walk-ins, so many good options for sushi and Japanese cuisine in general. Chinese food in Alhambra, Monterey Park, that whole area for authentic Chinese, Taiwanese food. The Thai food here is amazing, the Mexican food here is phenomenal. I don’t even know of any place that has Mexican food as good as L.A. The question isn’t where to go, it's which place do I choose to go! It’s hard to pick because it’s all so good."