We commemorate the most stylish places in the world – whether it’s taking selfies in front of the Eiffel Tower during Paris Fashion Week or with the Manhattan skyline at your back during New York Fashion Week, there’s a lot more to it than posing in front of cliche monuments while wearing the best of our fashion -Looks.
But how about making a travel memory more lasting for the stylish fashionista? A tattoo artist named Minyoung Sim, who goes by the nickname EQ Tattooist, has painted landscapes in quaint little rectangular frames that capture our wanderlust – something you’ll cherish long after you’ve taken off.
Sim uses a rectangular landscape as a window to your travels, much like a postcard.
But this postcard shape is much thinner than your average postcard, it’s more like a window – a window into your wanderlust or travel memory.
“I fill the rectangle with the beauty of oriental paintings,” she said. “For example, if a client tells me about their trips to Seoul, Tokyo or Taiwan, I use motifs that we see in traditional oriental paintings to fill in the tattoo. It adds layers of elegance and magic to an otherwise typical iPhone travel photo.”
She adds animals like cranes and tigers to these frame tattoos. “You look through a window at the world, and the beauty of oriental painting is also seen through a window of your travels,” Sim said. “Everyone has a travel story, and each person’s story is expressed naturally in the rectangular frame. “
One tattoo shows a honeymoon destination their client visited, while others highlight family trips, personal vacations, and important life moments.
She has inked the small, less traveled streets of Portugal, the Left Bank of Paris and the busy streets of London in small, vertically thin, rectangular tattoos. Sim also colored Korean locales like the streets of Seoul and the mountain peaks of the Japanese countryside.
“Each client records where they’ve traveled, and many get tattooed to commemorate their time in South Korea,” said Sim, who works at a studio in the Hongdae neighborhood of Seoul, Korea. “Around 80% of my customers are foreigners.”
A recurring symbol in her tattoos is the red sun, an influence of ancient oriental art, particularly the Irworobongdo, a Korean folding screen popularized during the Joseon Dynasty and decorated with landscapes and often red suns. The suns and moons typically represented royalty, such as the king and queen, overseeing and protecting a royal court represented by a landscape.
“The sun is an element that I always put last when I’m tattooing someone,” she said. “I think it would be easy to believe that the sun is an element of a point, and the red sun in my painting is like my own seal or personal trademark.”
A client wanted to commemorate his time in South Korea, so he asked for a design that combines the Namsan Seoul Tower, which is among the highest points in Seoul, with the Hanok District, which is full of historic Korean houses, and the country’s national flower , the Rose of Sharon, known to locals as Mugunghwa.
“With travel tattoos, my clients want to commemorate places with their own personal memories,” she said. “It’s not just in Asia, it’s around the world, and I’m wrapping days, weeks, and even months of travel into a piece that highlights their fondest travel memories – stories they share with me.”
Her work is small and detailed, which is perfect for timeless landscapes. “I like to use very detailed, rich and bright colors, and using a historical oriental style of painting lends itself well to such an elegant design,” she says. Sim also uses the recurring symbol of the tiger, “which symbolizes strength,” she adds, “and prevents bad luck – it’s known to bring good energy.” White cranes also feature in her landscapes, as they symbolize longevity.
In a tattoo, Sim inked a landscape of layered rooftops from a Tokyo neighborhood into an arm tattoo. “The client wanted to capture the wintry Japanese landscape in my style, so the tattoo depicts a Japanese house covered in snow, a crane, and a red sun hovering over the landscape,” Sim said.
In another, she inked the streets of a Tokyo skyline in a pastel tattoo. “It’s based on the image the client sent me and shows how intricate and personal people can really capture the cities they visit,” she said.
But honeymoon destinations are among the most popular wanderlust tattoos, like a piece depicting a wedding venue, the Hotel Fort Canning in Singapore, alongside symbolic flowers and places the couple visited during their honeymoon, like the Colosseum in Rome, and the fairytale ones Cappadocia, honeycomb hills in the central Anatolian region of Turkey. Below, a rabbit and a tortoise represent the couple.
“When traveling, you don’t know until you go,” Sim said. “I think travel tattoos are becoming more popular as we venture out into the world again, and telling a story through a visual montage, an inked collage, is that.” best way to capture that memory forever.”