South Korean tattoo artist Dongho Kim, known as Dino, has made a name for himself in Hollywood after a career-ending injury forced him to leave professional soccer in South Korea.
Despite facing setbacks, Dino pursued his passion for art and transformed his life into what he calls the American dream.
Dino’s tattoo studio in Hollywood is a gallery where skin becomes a canvas for Asian-inspired artwork.
One of his clients, Ashley, was captivated by Dino’s work, particularly a geisha mask adorned with flowers, which was a collaboration with another artist and took an impressive 60 hours to complete.
Ashley, who is also an artist, discovered Dino through social media and felt an immediate connection and trust in his abilities.
But what does Dino’s soccer history have to do with his career as a tattoo artist? According to Dino, it is all about skills and hard work.
Being a former men’s soccer player and a backup for the Olympics, he suffered a serious ankle injury that resulted in six surgeries, effectively ending his soccer career.
Devastated by this loss, Dino embarked on a new path.
He learned to speak English and honed his tattooing skills through YouTube tutorials.
However, his journey wasn’t without obstacles, as tattooing is illegal in South Korea, and his family and wife initially didn’t support his dream.
Undeterred, Dino dedicated himself to his craft, often working 14 hours a day.
Eventually, Dino found a mentor and decided to move to Los Angeles in the summer of 2021.
With the support of the studio owner, Man Who Cruise, Dino’s style flourished, drawing inspiration from 17th to 19th-century Japanese art and incorporating bold designs featuring dragons, snakes, flowers, and other Asian motifs.
His work started gaining recognition, and he began winning awards at tattoo conventions nationwide.
Dino’s story represents a triumph over adversity and a belief in turning pain into something beautiful.
He shared that he constantly reminds himself that he can achieve his goals, even in challenging times.
His wife, also a tattoo artist, joins him in the next chapter of their lives, supporting each other’s artistic endeavors.
To celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, KTLA 5 News will be airing a special program that highlights stories like Dino’s, showcasing the trailblazers who are making a difference for future generations.
The special will air on Friday, May 19th, at 7:00 PM, and again on Saturday, May 20th, at 11:00 PM on KTLA.