Kelvin Monster

Culture Cartel: What inspired you to become a tattoo artist, and how has your style evolved over the years?

Monster: I have been fascinated with tattoos since I was young, such as how they are drawn on the body and how they can remain permanently on the skin.

I usually do more Japanese irezumi-inspired tattoos, and over the years in my tattooing career, I have enjoyed creating subjects with a little more volume, using different colors to put a twist on the traditional irezumi tattooing.

Culture Cartel: Pop culture icons feature a bit in your work e.g. Pokemon, Naruto Pompourin. Why do you think these characters attract people?

Monster: These characters are mainly the fondest childhood memories of the clients themselves. These tattoos are iconic, simple but loud, and it’s hard to miss them even with just a glance.

These kinds of tattoos and size are more easily accepted by clients, as you do not have to commit long hours and a large placement on your body for them.

Culture Cartel: How do you navigate the balance between honouring your style and adapting to what clients want?

Monster: I find the balance by adding a little of my usual working methods/style into designs that clients want in particular. I like to explore and learn new things, so I am always trying to adapt with a keen mindset.

Culture Cartel: Are there any specific streetwear brands, creatives or movements that inspire you to keep going, even when things are hard?

Monster: I like to observe the Senja Matsuri festival to understand the culture of Japanese art and its commitment/dedication to its roots, which always stimulates my artistic drive.

I immerse myself in comedy and action films to relax when I feel drained and find motivation.

Tattoo conventions are the most inspiring, of course, as I get to see an array of artists from all over the world showcasing their top-notch quality tattoos, which motivates me to improve further.

Culture Cartel: What advice would you give to tattoo artists who might be stuck in a rut or still trying to find their voice/ style as a tattoo artist?

Monster: To be a tattoo printer (lifting designs directly) is not hard, but to be a tattoo artist, always try to be better than you were yesterday, spend time, and draw more.

It’s an endless journey; keep learning and improving.

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