Acclaimed Los Angeles tattoo artist Dr. Woo has been called “the most in demand tattooist in the world.” With a rumored two-year long waitlist and 1.2 million followers on Instagram, Dr. Woo has an impressive star-studded client list that includes Miley Cyrus, Drake, Emilia Clarke, Cara Delevingne, Sarah Hyland, Frances Bean Cobain and Frank Ocean to name just a few.
With his instantly recognizable style, Dr. Woo is at the forefront of the L.A. black and grey movement, producing intricate fine-line and hyper real designs. "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."
Following a ten-year stint at Shamrock Social Club on the famed Sunset Strip, Dr. Woo recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of the opening his own private shop, HIDEAWAY at Suite X. The studio’s secret Hollywood location is only revealed once a long sought-after 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 wait list. 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: 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.” - Dr. Woo
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."
Yet, "the L.A. tattoo scene is so unique. You have every kind of tattooing here," Woo continues. "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."
"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."