Brian Woo a.k.a Dr. Woo is one of the most sought-after tattoo artists in the world. Born and raised in Los Angeles, the 37-year-old Taiwanese artist has a waiting list that can take more than six months to get inked by the man. His clientele includes celebrities such as Zoe Kravitz, Susan Sarandon Drake, and many more. He has over 1.4 million followers on Instagram and is collaborating with fashion brands such as Converse.
Brian Woo always had an interest in tattoos but he never saw it as a career path. His parents wanted him to become a lawyer or a doctor but he wanted to rebel against that and he believed tattoos were the way. At the young age of 12, he and his friend would tattoo each other, “My friend Chris and I would hand-poke India ink smiley faces and letters on each other after school at 12 or 13. We wanted to push against the norm,” Woo told the Los Angeles Times.
It wasn’t until he turned 14 that he got a professionally done tattoo by Mark Mahony. This first tattoo would set him up to become the man he is today.
Mark Mahony is a famous tattoo artist who’s known for his black and gray needle tattoos. Celebrities flock to his tattoo parlor, the Shamrock Social Club, in West Hollywood. His clientele includes such celebrities such as David Beckham, Johnny Depp, and both Tupac and Notorious Big. This man helped Brian Woo turn his fascination of tattoos into a career.
Mahony had been tattooing Woo for about ten years when Mahony asked Woo if he wanted an apprenticeship. “It was too intimidating. To be a tattooer, you have to be a good renderer. I was never confident with that,” Woo told the Los Angeles Times. Woo had a clothing line he was working on that wasn’t going anywhere so he agreed. The next two years Woo did everything that was asked of him. From scrubbing toilets to setting up an artists station, he did it all while he absorbed the lessons of the artists around him. Finally, he started to tattoo walk-in customers using the fine line black ink style Mahony taught him. From there he saw lines form to get a tattoo from him.
At the Shamrock he got the skills to make him a master tattooist but that’s where he also got the moniker “Dr. Woo”. “At Shamrock Social Club, it’s kind of a rite of passage. Once you go from apprentice to tattoo artist, you have to get a nickname. Mine started when one guy said there was an old movie that had this evil villain called Dr. Woo, but the character ended up not even being named Woo!” Woo told refinery29. The nickname has become somewhat of a joke now. He tells his parents that finally, they have a doctor in the family.
Dr. Woo eventually left the Shamrock, he outgrew it and wanted to start his own place. He told the Los Angeles Times, “I really grew and matured at Shamrock but I feel like there was nowhere left to go there. That’s Mark’s place. That’s forever going to be his temple. I can’t build something in someone else’s house like that.” Dr. Woo found his place at the Hollywood Hotel. Although he got his style from Mahony he wouldn’t be taking the ruckus nature of Shamrock with him to his new place. The place he works in now is more tranquil and feels more like a spa than the energy of a stereotypical tattoo place. And this is where, if you’re lucky you get to get inked up by Dr. Woo.
Celebrities flock to him but he doesn’t really like to talk too much about them. However, just recently he got a shout out from Emilia Clarke of Game Of Thrones when she posted on her Instagram a picture of three Dragons on her wrist with the caption, “MOD 4 LYFE!!!!🔥@_dr_woo_ made sure this mamma ain’t NEVER forgetting her babies… 😍”
Brian, humbled, put a close up picture of Emilia’s wrist with her three dragons on his Instagram with the caption. “I mean… Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Lady Regnant of the Seven Kingdoms, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Mhysa, Breaker of Chains, the Unburnt, and MOTHER OF DRAGONS thank you @emilia_clarke for the honor of puttin your babies on ya forever 🙏🏼💚”
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I mean… Queen of Meereen, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Lady Regnant of the Seven Kingdoms, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Mhysa, Breaker of Chains, the Unburnt, and MOTHER OF DRAGONS thank you @emilia_clarke for the honor of puttin your babies on ya forever 🙏🏼💚 #hideawayatsuitex #slimneedle