Interview with Kaorukel

   Hello Kaorukel! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. Please start by telling us something about yourself and your background. Are you a self taught artist or do you have any formal art training? Hello, I am Kel, and my artistic name is Kaorukel. I'm Spanish. I'm a lover of Japanese culture to the point of learning the language, and I've visited Japan a couple of times and can't wait to go back! I love to travel, I've traveled to different countries around the world. I love creating in general, anything done by hand fascinates me, and I try to do it, although sometimes due to lack of time and space, I can't do more things. Since I can remember, I've been surrounded by paintings and drawing pads. Not only have I been self-taught because I'm passionate about any artistic technique, but I also studied Art. There, I learned a lot about developing creativity, using different techniques and tools, trying different styles, and learning that despite the tastes of each person who can judge your art, always keep improving and keep trying new things.

Q: What type of art (outside tattooing) do you like the most and why?
A: I like so many things! I enjoy painting pictures, whether it's acrylic, watercolor, gouache, mixing it with clay, fabric... I also like decoration, when I visit a studio or a house, I always think about what I would put here or there, I like working with clay, although I haven't done that since I was studying art. I love crafts, anything created with hands, I try to do it, and the best art that can be enjoyed in this world, is culinary art, cooking is my second passion.

Q: Do you have any favorite artists?
A: It's difficult for me to answer this question, as it's often asked, such as who are my references in art and/or tattooing. It's hard for me to define one because I look up to many artists, from the past, present... who inspire me try new things. Maybe it's that I haven't stopped to think about it, if one day it becomes clear to me, I'll certainly say it.

Q: How old were you when you first got interested in tattoo art? What made you think you can do tattoos?
A: The truth is that I was interested in tattoos since I was 15-16 years old, but more for getting them than for dedicating myself to it. It never crossed my mind the possibility of becoming a tattoo artist. It was seven years ago that two people made me see that I could combine my passion for drawing and tattoos and also make a career out of it.

Q: How did it all start? Did anyone help you?
A: The two people who influenced me to become a tattoo artist were a friend and the tattoo artist who tattooed her. They insisted, and I decided to try it out, like trying out a new technique, and soon I realized that I wasn't bad at it. The final push came from that tattoo artist, my current partner, who helped me a lot to become a professional, not only with the knowledge he shared but above all with the support and faith in me.

Q: Even the talented people who have a lot of potential can have a really hard time learning a new skill. Let's be completely honest, tattooing is not easy. How long it took you to start feeling confident and maintain regular clientele?
A: It's a good question. From the very beginning, I have felt a great responsibility for my work, and that made me feel completely confident in what I do, difficult, especially with how much of a perfectionist I am. I started to have regular clients after two years, although I began to feel completely secure a little later. It's very difficult to have a regular clientele, it requires creating your preferences, discarding certain clients, and offering those you do want a good service, and for all that, you have to be sure of yourself and what you do.

Q: What type of tattoos you use to do back then?
A: Seven years of a career are not much to differentiate what I was doing back then to what I do now because honestly, I do a little bit of everything. It's true that I always tend to do more Japanese, Asian, but with so many trips and guest spots that I do, in the end, I end up tattooing a little bit of everything.

Q: How much do you think your work has changed artistically and technically?
A: It has really changed a lot since I started traveling. I think it's a combination of the moment, the experience, the different jobs that have come my way, and seeing first hand how other artists tattoo. It was a pretty significant leap.

Q: Biggest challenge? What keeps you motivated?
A: In my life, anything I've done or worked on, whether I liked it or not, I've always given my best and wanted to do the best. With tattooing, it's my vocation, and all the reasons that keep me on track to do well in the work that I'm passionate about. Therefore, I believe that the biggest challenge is always giving my best, and what motivates me is achieving my own personal achievements.

Q: As a young woman in this still predominantly male business, how do you feel? Do you have any favorite female tattoo artists you would like to work with?
A: Thanks for calling me young woman Lol. Well, it's something that personally I don't give importance to, it's true that maybe sometimes I haven't been seen as a tattoo artist. I always wonder if it's because I'm a woman or because I don't interact much. But in reality, there has been much more acceptance as an artist, regardless of being a woman, than rejection. It's true that you see many men, but there have been female tattoo artists throughout history, starting with Maud Wagner in the early 20th century. As for working with another female artist, I wouldn't mind, although I don't have any favorite.

Q: I like the variety. There are many interesting tattoo designs in your portfolio and that tells me you like to explore new ideas and styles. Oh lucky clients, it's like there is everything for everyone. How do you prepare your designs? Do you draw a bunch of sketches before the session?
A: Yes, the truth is that there is a lot of variety. On the one hand, there are the designs that I want to do, and on the other, those that are requested of me. I'm still one of those artists who can't tattoo only what they like, but give me time Lol. So some want my designs, and others ask me for something, I ask them a lot of questions and draw a sketch for them, to see if I've captured the idea, and then I make a final design. Usually, they like the design I make precisely because I asked a lot of questions before, but if not I make the modifications they ask for and present a different design. I do everything days before the session, unless I'm on a guest spot, where sometimes the studios don't tell you anything, and you do it on the spot.

Q: In which designs you find most creative freedom? How important is to have that creative freedom meanwhile still keeping your customers happy?
A: Although I don't follow the purity of a style, I really enjoy designing Japanese things, neo-Japanese, anime. But there's everything, there are clients who make me happy because they want something from my style, there are others that have nothing to do with it, and then I change my perspective, but I'm still an artist, and I seek the creativity that is closest to what they like. After all, we are providing a service, and the client has to leave happy, although I try to advise them first.

Q: What do you do with those who are indecisive? Do you have like a ready-made designs, flash book?
A: If the person has no idea at all of what they want, I tend to show them a brainstorm or designs. If they know at least the concept, then there's no problem because I'm the one who starts to inquire and offer the ideas that occur to me. I don't work much with flash books because I think it's very limiting. Unless, as I said before, you're an artist with a very defined style and only offer your style. That's not my case.

Q: Top three things you like about being a tattoo artist?
A: Feeling the daily satisfaction of working on something I love and being able to do it for hours without feeling that it's monotonous, traveling around the world and being able to create fascinating things for my clients that they'll carry for a lifetime.

Q: You meet all kinds of people every day. Some reveal their stories of life struggles and wins during the sessions, and the whole experience can turn into a beautiful energy exchange. Do you agree?
A: Yes, totally agree. You can develop a connection with some clients. In fact, I tend to think that it's more on the part of the clients, the good experience I want to give them for each tattoo is an addition to the tattooing itself. I'm very empathetic, and I respect both those who don't say anything in 8 hours of tattooing and those who explain their whole life in a moment.

Q: Nowadays the tattoo industry is a lot bigger than what it was just ten years ago. There are many opportunities for the young and the talented. The ones who will work hard to earn the trust of the clients and the respect from their fellow artists. What is your opinion about the global tattoo scene? Do you like where we are going?
A: I have to admit that for me, it has been a great opportunity because I have grown as a tattoo artist precisely with all those facilities and improvements that we have today. But I also appreciate what was before and what is now. It has become very massified, and there are many artists and aspiring artists emerging. On one hand, there's an incredible level that keeps you on alert and is constantly improving. On the other hand, a lot of those attempts have worsened the job market and the quality. I have a master's in marketing, and one of the things I did was a study of the tattoo scene in my city, and it's sort of alarming the number of studios and tattoo artists, how prices have plummeted to ridiculous prices, and unfair competition. It feels like the importance of art within our service has been sidelined, and it has become a business. As for the improvements, I'm thankful that I don't have to spend Sundays soldering needles or sterilizing, if I had to do it, I would, but luckily everything has advanced. Just like getting references from the internet, tablets, now AI. Like many things, it has been somewhat distorted, but it's the era we live in.

Q: Where do you see yourself professionally in a few years?
A: I hope to be living and tattooing in the United States. I think it would be a great professional and personal step, and being able to open my studio would be great!

Q: Where are you located? Please write down your contacts social media links and studio location. Also let us know if you are available for bookings.
A: Hard to answer because I had the Bulldog Tattoo studio in Madrid (Spain) but I closed it in December to make way for my new goal of moving to the United States. So while I handle what's necessary, I'm on the road around Europe. Until the summer, I'll be in Germany, in different studios and conventions including the one in Dortmund. I have available appointments, so to know where I am and to request a quote, you can do it through Instagram @kaorukeltattoo or for more inquiries, my email is kaorukel@bulldogtattoo.es

Q: Your boyfriend Gustavo is also a tattoo artist. How do you both compliment each other creatively? Have you thought to work on some tattoo together? How much his support means to you? Any matching tattoos?
A: Yes, Gustavo and I, complement each other very well as artists and of course as a couple! While he is all about black and gray, dark, I'm all about color and kawaii, so we've managed to balance each other very well. We known what we're best at, and we divided "the tasks" between us. We have in mind to do a piece together. We want it to be so brutal that we've been thinking about it for a long time, and I think soon, at one of the conventions this year, we'll do something. Imagine! Him black and gray and dark, me in color and Japanese... it could be interesting. For me, Gustavo has been my rock, he has been that continuous push that sometimes I need, to take the next step and grow as an artist. He has given me confidence and surely without him, I wouldn't have done many of the things I've done. I have a lot to thank him for, and I'm very lucky. And despite being very different, we have a very similar view of life, so that makes us a good team in both the professional and personal aspects. And no, we don't have any matching tattoos, we're tattoo artists! We know it's better to avoid those things Lol. But yes, I tattoo him, he tattoos me... I told him a long time ago that I would make him a small tattoo with my initial, but... he's not convinced by the idea.

Q: What would you say to those who want to try getting into professional tattooing?
A: Mainly, not to stop being humble, to practice a lot, draw a lot, and that it's a great responsibility (as Uncle Ben told Spiderman). It's a very beautiful profession, but like many artistic professions, it requires a lot of sacrifice and being constantly there. And to inform themselves about absolutely everything, you're not born knowing, so you need time. It's not just about knowing how to tattoo, it's about knowing how to understand people, knowing how to sell your product, but all that can't be known all at once, so I go back to doing things with patience, without haste but without pause.

Thank you! Regards,
Kel @kaorukeltattoo
kaorukel.tattoo@gmail.com

You can read our interview with Gustavo Bulldog Tattoo on this link.