KRISTIAN KIMONIDES Colour realism, fainting farters & the Aus Tattoo Expo

There was a time when tattoos were reserved for the misfits of society. From sailors to gang members, the inked would be scorned for using their body as a canvas. Over the years, the general consensus has been slowly shifting as tattoo culture has become more prevalent and normalised within our society, creating more freedom for artists to nestle into wider acclaim rather than hide in the shadows. Kristian Kimonides is a Melbournian who has been working in the tattoo industry for the last eight years. He’s one of many talented featured artists that will be heading west for Perth’s biggest showcase of tattoos and body art this year. The Australian Tattoo Expo will be held out of the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre from September 14 to September 16, 2018. 
ANNIE MUNROE caught up with Kristian Kimonides to find out what we can expect from the weekend’s event.

Can you tell us about your style and what inspires you in the design process?

I’ve always struggled to articulate exactly what my style is. Colour realism would be the most simple way to put it. I tend to stylise realism naturally. I deliberately overlook unnecessary details in order to focus on other principles of design such as contrast. I like to create colour palettes that don’t necessarily reflect the reference perfectly but work harmoniously once tattooed. I also like to stray from the reference in order to allow the tattoo to take on a life of its own. I draw inspiration from my customers’ ideas first and foremost. I love to interpret their ideas and collaborate with them in this way. I also look to tattooists that influence me. There are far too many to name but Steve Moore and Boris are among my greatest inspirations.

Have you been involved with the Australian Tattoo Expo before?

Yes! I try to attend as many Australian Tattoo Expos as possible. There is an indescribable electricity that surrounds the events. It feels great to be surrounded by other tattooists doing what they love to do. I always leave an expo feeling inspired and motivated. It’s also a great way to meet new clients.

When did you start tattooing? What was the drive to get into the industry initially?

I started my apprenticeship at the end of 2010.  I was always interested in tattoos and was intrigued by the enigmatic nature of the world of tattooing. I always knew I would end up pursuing some form of creativity as a career but I wasn’t sure what exactly. I wanted a job that allowed me to practice my creativity daily without being hindered by the rigidity of a design brief. Tattooing was the perfect choice.

Do you find that the style or social approach towards tattoo culture changes across states in Australia? What do you find unique about the tattoo scene in your city?

Admittedly my perspective is that of a Melbournian but I strongly believe that tattoo culture differs state to state. Our country is so culturally, socially and environmentally diverse that it makes perfect sense for this to be reflected in tattooing. This is one of the many reasons I enjoy doing expos and guest spots across Australia. It’s an opportunity to have a glimpse at this diversity. I think Melbourne tattooing is unique because it is difficult to make generalisations about. There is an obvious universality of Melbourne that is strongly echoed in its tattoo culture.

Do you feel there are boundaries in the industry from a social or cultural aspect? If so, how do you combat that?

I think tattooing allows for true cultural and social expression. If there is a group to belong to that embraces an absence of boundaries it is surely tattooing. However, there are certain cultural expectations that exist. People have a tendency to put too much emphasis on things of lesser importance. We live in a fast paced world and tattooing is not immune to the world it exists within. It’s important to remember how much of a privilege it is to be a tattooist.

Can you give us a best or worst story from your career? 

Hmmm. All the ‘client passing out’ stories are classic. Is that evil? We all have them. From the ‘stencil fainter’ to the ‘fainting farter’. I once had a young woman who vomited into her cupped hands and I was within the blast radius. A noteworthy chunk ended up on the tip of my nose. She never came back despite what we shared.

 Where can we find you during the Expo, and what will you be focusing on?

I’ll be in the thick of it, sharing a booth with some very talented individuals. I’ll be doing a surreal colour portrait on day one. On day two and three I’ll be collaborating with Bridget Tunstall on an epic leg piece. I can’t wait to be fully immersed in what’s shaping up to be another epic Australian Tattoo Expo.


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