Getting Inked With LA’s Finest, Dr. Woo

Photos by Dale Robinson

Dr. Woo is a phenomenal tattoo artist, but you’d already know that if you owned a copy of Monster Children #41.

Last time we spoke with Dr. Woo, he was in the middle of his decade-long stint at Shamrock Social Club on Sunset Strip, where he’d gotten an apprenticeship after quitting his job as a creative director. “I’ve been getting tattooed since I was a teenager and loved everything about it, but never thought I’d be able to pull it off,” he told us. “Plus, tattooers intimidated me; they seemed part of this secret club that wouldn’t let just anyone in.”

Well, you could say he’s managed to pull it off. The waitlist for his Hideaway at Suite X at the Hollywood Roosevelt (which he’s opened post-Shamrock) is around two years, and he’s amassed over 1.3 million followers on Instagram who go ballistic for his intricate, hyper-real designs. His meticulous handiwork (except for the time he misspelled “Morrisey sucks” on a buddy) has got everyone from gangsters to grandparents vying for a spot in his chair, and we were lucky enough to get hooked up with an appointment when he was flown out to Sydney on behalf of Discover Los Angeles. We offered up our skin for one of his sought-after tattoos and asked a few questions about his hometown of LA, who he’d let ink him in Aus, and more.

The ultimate car to cruise LA in?

Lincoln Continental.

Place you go to in LA for inspiration?

Driving through Hancock Park, just the homes there. Each one is individual, each one is different. It just inspires you to be successful, it inspires you in that is gives you that kind old LA feel, very classic. All the museums as well, the Marciano, have you been yet? It’s like the old Masonic temple.

It’s cool people do that, leave the skeleton of a place.

Yeah, then Jim Shaw who used to take all the old Masonic paintings, that stuff’s amazing.

First tattoo you did, what it was, who was it on?

First tattoo was on my friend, it was a shamrock on St Patrick’s Day.

Was it good?

No, it was horrible.

A common misconception about tattooing?

That anything is possible.

Is there a tattooist you want to get a tattoo from?

Several. There’s a girl in Melbourne, Jess Swaffer, she’s cool I really like her style.

You travel a lot, what’s your one travel tip?

Pack light.

Favourite city…


…outside of LA. I like that you answered that before I’d finished. How old do your kids have to be before you let them get a tattoo and have they asked yet?

18 and no, they’ve seen it up close a lot.

Haven’t drawn any on themselves yet?

Yeah, but they know what a real tattoo is. They’ve seen the anguish on people’s faces, the blood.

One thing you can’t do without daily?

Drink some sort of caffeine. One thing I’d like to try and do daily is train in jujitsu, but that’s hard, I try.

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