We’re celebrating our birthday at Dr. Martens this year by highlighting creative individuals across the world who are originals in their own fields; whether that be art, music, or fashion. Dr. Martens Originals styles have become iconic over time, worn by authentic characters who embody rebellious self-expression. In these interviews, we recognise the creative individuals who inspire us, and find out who they are and what they stand for.
Today we speak to Mi-Rae, the South Korean flipping traditional tattooing on its head.
Hello, My name is Mi-Rae, and I am a Tattoo Artist from Korea.
How did you get into the tattoo industry? What does it mean to you?
Ever since I was young I’ve always liked fashion and drawing. I believe tattoos were also a part of fashion, so I became interested in them and learned how to tattoo. Being a tattoo artist provided a link for communication with people. You spend your life providing for customers, so it is something that is very meaningful to me. It feels like providing them with a new piece of clothing and it is quite thrilling work.
Do you have a project/ tattoo you’re most proud of?
3 years ago I participated in an exhibition with the theme of “Tattoos as Clothing.” It was a nude shooting, but I thought of it as putting clothes on with tattoos. It was an exhibit where I considered everything one by one – the place, the model, the work, so it left a strong memory. A piece I really remember is something I made for a customer that combined the wave patterns made by the breathing sounds of her father before he passed away with the things he enjoyed in life. It was very meaningful to both myself and my client. I also remember going to a workshop in Hong Kong last year where I met my fellow tattoo artists and we tattooed each other with our designs.
Tell us about your relationship with Dr. Martens:
When I was young I liked Dr. Martens, so I joined a Dr. Martens page in Korea and began participating in events. Once there was a posting on the page talking about a 50 year anniversary event, so I went directly there had an interview so that I could participate in a runway.
What is your favourite thing about the city you live in?
This is a city where the lights are on 24/7. I’ve been abroad many times and usually in other cities all businesses are closed by 10pm. However, Seoul has malls opened until the early morning, bars open 24 hours, clubs, and other cultural things to enjoy 24 hours a day. It is a city where you don’t really have a chance to be bored.
If you could tattoo anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
There is no one in particular I can think of. I am most happy when tattooing clients who have requested tattoos from me.
And finally, what do you stand for?
I hate the thought of death and I’m scared of it, so I support a life without death. I want to live like a phoenix!