Brian Woo, alias Dr Woo, aka “Woo” for connoisseurs, sits among a dizzying array of art and ephemera in his studio at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel: a multimedia sculpture of his friend Nick van Woert perches next to Sesame Street dolls designed by artist KAWS and in front of a Woo fiberglass chair made with the Los Angeles furniture company Modern. “I’ve always had a creative field where nothing really ended up in one medium,” says Woo, pulling on a Goro necklace – “a good hit, under the cut,” he says of the cult gem. which he branded at the late Goro Takahashi’s Harajuku store.
The medium he’s best known for, of course, is skin, and his work appears on some of the world’s most famous: Cara Delevingne’s rib, Miley Cyrus’ biceps, Bella Hadid’s shoulder, Justin Bieber’s neck. Woo’s tattoos are sleek and hyperrealistic. Striking in depth and detail, they frequently merge the graphic and the organic. “Anything that has a contrasting visual duality is cool to me,” he says, “like how Mexico City is that beautiful city engulfed in a jungle.” His fine needle art was cultivated for 12 years at Shamrock Social Club, the historic Sunset Boulevard tattoo parlor, and he arguably turned tattoos from punk insubordination emblems into ubiquitous accessories that are often accumulated as delicate permanent works of art. “There’s no one like him in the world,” stylist Karla Welch says of Woo, whom she met thanks to Bieber and who carved a safety pin on the inside of her wrist, a symbol of the place where her life has taken her. “He’s also an honest and really kind person,” adds Chitose Abe, Creative Director of Sacai, who asked Woo to refresh Jean Paul Gaultier’s 90s tattoo shirts when asked by the French house to lead its fall 2021 couture collection earlier this year. . Woo’s chains, eyes, orbs, angels and diving birds were printed on jersey base layers, which allowed spider webs and angel wings to pop out under blazers and shirts. Abe dresses. “I knew he would reinvent Gaultier’s designs in a modern and stylish way,” Abe says of Woo, whose personal style blends ready-to-wear heavyweights, limited-edition streetwear, discerning Japanese brands. and vintage accessories.
“How can I take something so simple and make it different?” Woo wonders regularly. This is a question that is at the heart of Projetwoo, a development studio he recently launched alongside a less is more skincare line. The collection includes a soft, three ingredient soap, an infused green tea daily moisturizer, a lip balm, and one tattoo post treatment this “is good for everyone whether you have tattoos or not,” notes Woo, who has had problems with sensitive skin and allergies in the past, conditions that made it difficult to care for his own tattoos. when he started collecting them as a teenager. Next year, Projectwoo will launch a fragrance-free sunscreen that does not leave white streaks. It follows a shower gel, lightly scented with eucalyptus and citrus, which the brand has just released in collaboration with the Japanese brand of shower towels Goshi, “not so much for the tattoos you just received, but for the ones you have since. years, to help exfoliate in the shower and make them pop, ”he says.
Woo remains hyper selective about his collaborations having learned to beware of oversaturation at Shamrock Social Club. “In this store, I saw celebrities fizzing really fast, because it was all about chasing after that excess moment. I don’t want to burn myself out, ”he says of finding new and interesting ways to leverage his art. This spring, after a decade of building an impressive Hollywood client list, the 40-year-old father-of-two will have his own taste of the industry when he voices a character based on his younger self in HBO Max. Chinos, a new animated series about two Chinese-American children that Woo has developed with comedian Eddie Huang. “Dr. Woo: Celebrity Tattoo Artist ‘has been the catchphrase for 10 years now,” he says. “I’m just looking for a new way to tell the story.”