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Artist Spotlight > View Spotlights

Kore Flatmo: One Talented Mofo

Hello Mr. Fancypants!

by lucretia

January 25, 2005

Artist Profile

For all intents and purposes, Kores story starts in LA in a T-shirt shop. Here he was selling T-shirts on Hollywood Blvd. and got offered the opportunity of a lifetime; an apprenticeship with the tattoo shop in the back. He reluctantly took the offer and muddled his way through it for the first 5 years. He then began to notice something. Guys coming into the shop begging for an apprenticeship, but getting flat out turned away. This is where Kore seized the moment, which led him down the path to the uber-talented, humbly grateful and widely respected artist that he is today.

Lucretia: So at what point did you have your epiphany or your moment that led to your turning point of not being that "into" tattooing to wanting to dedicate yourself to it?

Kore: I think it was just a maturity thing. When I came out of school I had that feeling of "what now?" I wasted a few years in LA partying as its so easy to do there. My family is very art-driven. Id get charcoal and other art supplies for Christmas presents so it was encouraged early on. I began to realize how lucky I was. I also had support from amazing artists there like Clay Decker and Mark Mahoney. Their guidance and advice was crucial. Now that Im living in Cincinnati I feel very lucky with my set up here. I have my own private studio thats on the second floor. Theres very little signage, so those who are coming here are coming to get tattooed by me. I do large custom pieces all the time now with subject matter that I am really excited to do. Ive done several years in street shops and have respect for those who are in that niche of tattooing, but I am very grateful for being able to do what I like to do now.

L: There seems to be a lot of change and turmoil in tattooing these days, what with the law suits in California, the regulations in Europe and so forth. Whats your take on that?

K: Well, I know a lot of tattooers who are worried about the governmental part of it and how they could control the industry. Truthfully Im more worried about a tattooers "guild" starting up and having them control the industry. I could see them working under the guise of "looking out for the best interest of the tattooers", but really theyre just out for the monetary gain of it. Either way, Id just as soon go underground than work in those circumstances. With the whole pigment scare, Im hoping itll be a positive move for us. There are ink suppliers now that put on the label that their product is safe and contains no harmful ingredients. I think thats good. For years it was just assumed to be safe.

L: You and your wife tattoo, how does that work for you both?

K: It definitely helps when Im putting in 12 hour days at my studio. She understands the dedication I have towards my work. I have a great deal of respect for her as a tattooer. She works down the street from me at Designs by Dana. She is one of the classiest, most professional tattooers I know. She puts so much effort into accommodating her clients, goes to work an hour early and stays late if its required. I think that level of professionalism tends to be lacking in the industry right now. Shes really making a name for herself, and its hard to shake that sexist stigma put on women in this business, let alone when youre "with" someone who is in the industry too. We just dont have time for peers who throw that shit our way.

L: Do you travel for guest spots or attend tattoo conventions at all?

K: Before I attended the Vancouver convention this past July, I hadnt been to a convention since 99. I really want to do conventions outside of the US. The 2 that I have attended Ive gotten such a great vibe. I am definitely going to be at the Vancouver convention again next year, and plan to be there a month earlier so that I can do a guest spot at Sacred Heart Tattoo in Vancouver. Conventions are always good exposure.

L: With your artwork success, is this mostly within the industry that youre selling artwork, or have you ventured beyond that to the general public? Do you do art shows?

K: The interest lies largely within the tattoo industry. However, there was a huge art show in Europe a while back and I submitted one of my pieces. It sold in the first 10 minutes to a guy who isnt in the industry at all. He bought it because he liked it. Ive gotten some real positive feedback from some of my customers who have seen my paintings. The imagery that has been used in tattooing for years now is coming into the forefront as far as popularity and appeal goes. Thats good for me and my artwork. That would be cool if I could go beyond selling within the tattoo industry, but I just consider the art a fun peripheral project. I am a tattooer and thats predominantly what I want to do.

L: Beyond the tattooing and the artwork, what are you about? What are your interests, hobbies?

K: Its hard to have time for much else. The two most important things in my life are my wife and tattooing. My wife has the edge over the work (laughs). But I picked up a digital camera and am starting to mess around with that a bit. Ive got some ideas for side projects with that. People invest a lot of money into large tattoos and as a result they are paying not only for the artwork itself, but for my time and effort. Its time consuming, but its a relationship of trust and respect that I really enjoy with my clients.

L: Whats your pet peeve when tattooing customers?

K: Well, I dont have to contend with this so much anymore, but when working in street shops I really hate it when customers try and micro-manage their tattoo. They think if theyve got a couple of 50's in their pocket that they know what they want their tattoo to be and what its going to look like. Society has people under the illusion that theyre in control when making purchasing decisions. You know, you go to Burger King because you "gotta have it your way", but its all from a restrictive selection that theyve created. I like to explain to people what works on the skin and what doesnt. They need to be given that basic background and information so as to decide on an image that they like, but at the same time respect their tattoo artists advice and expertise. I have noticed that a few of the customers I am getting now are way more tattoo-savvy than ever before. People are starting to know and understand what good tattooing is. I had this one guy come !
in who was really wanting to make sure that his tattoo was done in the style of Greg Irons. I mean, I know tattoo artists who dont know who Greg Irons is, let alone a client. Isnt that amazing? I thought that was really cool. Having said that, I think as long as the customer is happy with it, thats all that matters. Everyones standards are different.

L: Amen to that.

If youd like to learn more about Kore Flatmo and his amazing work visit his site: www.silkyflycatcher.net

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