Yeono’s Tattoos Are the Most Stylish Way to Honour Your Pet · The Wildest

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The Best Way to Immortalise Your Love For Your Furry Friend? A Pet Tattoo by Yeono

The LA-based tattoo artist on the inspiration behind her hyperrealistic pet portraits

by Sio Hornbuckle
31 October 2023
A studio portrait of a tattooed woman posing with her arms crossed.
Courtesy of @tattooist_yeono

When it comes to helping pet parents honour their animals, no one’s doing it like Yeono. The Los Angeles-based tattoo artist is renowned for her hyperrealistic, precise-to-the-hair custom pet portraits. But her most popular work isn’t done with pen and paper – it’s done with needles, ink and skin.

Pet tattoos are a popular trend, and one we can most definitely get on board with. Yeono has dedicated a large portion of her artistic career to tattooing animal images – both memorial portraits and monuments to living pets. Her precise work is so imbued with life you almost expect the ink to start barking. The Wildest talked to Yeono about her experience creating odes to pets and how she refined her lifelike style.

What sparked your interest in tattooing?

When I was 17, my mother wanted to get a small tattoo. In the middle of looking for tattoo photos with my mother, I got to see a back piece by a famous Japanese tattooist. As soon as I saw the tattoo work, I marvelled at it. As I instantly wanted to create that kind of tattoo, I made up my mind to become a tattooist. That was one of the decisions that changed everything in my life.

How did you develop your hyper-realistic style?

In the beginning, I just liked drawing things realistically without thinking about the concept or meaning of the picture. After that, I started studying the aesthetic meanings of tattoos. I don’t think drawing the same picture as a photo is the most important. I draw pictures that can touch my clients and people who love my work. I want to show them real tattoos in easy and interesting ways.

The pieces taking a long time and a lot of effort to be completed is another charm. Despite the importance of the content and design, I think my hard work is also an emotional element. I think perfect realism is powerful and greatly influences people, and realism is virtual reality. I like pictures composed of more realistic virtuality than reality, which is what I would like to express in a tattoo.

Tell me about your own pets

Since I was young, I have raised dogs and cats. Now, I have three cats. Their names are Sangsil, Bangbang and Bom. I always miss them because they live in Korea and I live in LA. They’ve had a huge impact on the way I draw and how I approach every animal portrait. I really love animals; all work related to animals makes me feel happy. 

Are animals your favourite thing to tattoo?

There are many artists who specialise in pet tattoos. Each artist has a different artistic approach and technique to express the pictures. And I think I have many strengths that differentiate me from them. My personality has influenced my tattoo style a lot. I have great concentration and patience, so I can work on delicate animal hair, soft shading, and clean and accurate colour packing for a long time. I have a great passion for portrait, colour realism, still-life, nature, pets and all animals in general.

Is there an especially memorable tattoo you’ve done? 

When I got in an elevator of my friend’s apartment building, I was welcomed by a dog that was already in the elevator. The dog was really kind and so cute. As soon as I saw the dog’s owner to say hello, I realised he was my client. The dog that welcomed me was the one I drew. We were all surprised and felt pleased to meet each other.

Sio Hornbuckle

Sio Hornbuckle is a writer living in New York City with their cat, Toni Collette.