INTERVIEW: ONE ON ONE WITH TATTOO ARTIST KYLE B
I’ve known Kyle for a few months now and he’s been my go-to tattoo artist in Johannesburg. One day I was researching artists online and I came across a ‘joker’ piece he did which intrigued me enough to stalk his impressive Instagram account. I called him and that weekend we linked up for an inking session. He’s an easy-going guy who’s dedicated to his craft and continuously elevating his skill set.
A tattoo session, besides inking me, usually consists of us debating new and upcoming rappers, life lessons, and a whole lot of other random kak which leaves us laughing for days.
Ladies and gents, Kyle B.
Let’s start at the beginning. How did you get started? What were your early inspirations and what are they now?
It was my dad’s idea, he’s been getting tattooed since I was like four. Knowing that I have artistic and creative capabilities, he suggested I utilise my talent and passion for a career that could sustain me financially.
What’s the first tattoo you did on someone?
I advertised at a taxi rank that I was doing free tattoo work for practice, a dude stepped up for a palm-size praying hand… That ended up with like six fingers on one hand.
(Hahahaha!) What was the first tattoo you had done on yourself and by who?
I got my first tattoo at 14 years old, at some dodgy house by some guy I didn’t know.
How were you practicing…were you tattooing on yourself?
I practiced on my dad, a couple friends and whoever would sit for me. I did a small one on myself, but it’s just insanely kak to do it on oneself.
Can you talk a little bit about your journey to your current style? What kind of stuff did you start out doing?
I started out heading straight for the Jesse Smith/Josh Woods kinda new-school-style, but it turns out black and grey realism is my one true love. I really just stopped watching other artists and allowed my own creativity to pour out session by session, allowing my raw natural style to really push through. So, every piece I do has a piece of soul attached to it… Except for infinity symbols, stars, birds, and feathers… Those just give me money. 😂
If you could tattoo any piece on any part of the body, what would it be?
I love inner bicep, forearms, thighs, and calves… Maybe a titty too!
What is the most memorable tattoo you’ve created?
Most of my work is, I love what I do and I enjoy tattooing most of my client base. It’s all about making cash, getting that business in, but it’s also about that experience for both myself and my client to exchange positive energy.
Have you ever declined to ink someone?
Yes, I have. I want to maintain a positive environment and career for myself.
Are aliens real?
What is the overall change in perception of tattoos over the past few years or so?
It’s opening up to the world, people are getting more educated about it… and we’ve switched over from solid black birds and infinity symbols to clocks and roses. 😂
If there was an SA version of Ink Master, would you take part and who would be the judges and presenter?
Damn straight! Judges would be difficult, so many assholes in this business but I’d maybe say Rasty from 1933 and Dean Clarke from Tattoo Tony’s simply because they’re extremely versatile and great artists. As for presenting, maybe DJ Fresh, he’s been around getting tatted for a while!
Who’s hotter, Donald Trump or Kim Jong-Un?
I got love for Kim’s neat hairstyle and voluptuous belly.
What do you like about what you do?
Have you ever smoked crystal meth?
It’s my daily bread.
What advice can you give to artists who are just starting out? What rookie mistakes can they avoid?
Just do you, focus on yourself and your own development. Allow your artistry to pour out naturally. Keep your head down, and GRIND!
Follow Kyle on Instagram: @KyleBxTatt2