Permanent Ink: An Interview with Kohen Meyers

Posted on 07 January 2016

Tattoos have been a topic of controversy for hundreds of years, closely linked to religion, tribal identification, and organized crime.

In today’s Western world, tattoos are becoming more acceptable, often still used as a form of personal identity and expression.

Durham native Kohen Meyers, who began his journey as a designing apprentice at Dogstar Tattoo in 2010, believes that “at this day and age, so many different people have tattoos that there should not be any judgments on anyone’s character.”

Soon, he will make the pilgrimage out west to continue developing his craft. Our team caught up with Kohen at the RUNAWAY gallery during our opening art exhibition before he moves on.

JL: When did you get your first tattoo?

I got my first tattoo when I was 19.

JL: How long have you been in the tattoo business?

Started designing them when I started my apprenticeship which was 2010.

JL: How do you think tattoo design compares to other styles of art?

There are a lot of differences when it comes to tattooing. The biggest one being what you create is put on another person for the rest of their life. When designing a tattoo you have to keep in mind the placement of it on the body and work with muscles, curves, and the shape of the overall design.

JL: Is there someone out there who’s got a really fucked up tattoo that you’re responsible for?

As with any art form, progression is very important and I definitely feel with the standards I have now toady, absolutely.

JL: On the flip side, is there a tattoo that you’ve done that you are particularly proud of?

Getting to see a healed tattoo that has been taken care of and healed properly is always a good way to see what you are doing wrong or right. I have for sure seen some comeback where I have still been super stoked on them.

JL: What inspires you as an artist?

I find inspiration in different places; a big one would be from fellow artists. I am constantly looking at other artist work as a whole, but more specifically certain elements of each piece. I will see a group of colors, or lines, shapes, images, and techniques being used and find inspiration within that. I also find inspiration in a lot of 1960–1980’s horror film posters and recently I have been getting into the compositions of 1500’s religious artwork.

JL: How long have you been in Durham? How does life here shape your artistic outlook?

I was born here and have lived here my entire life. The diversity in this town is awesome, it makes it hard to grow up not to be exposed to different art forms or other artists. Durham has changed a lot in the past few years and I think even with that change it still holds onto those roots that I grew up around.

JL: If you weren’t a tattoo artist, what would you be doing?

I feel very fortunate to have found tattooing. I would probably be doing some boring computer shit because it is very hard to make a living doing hands-on artwork.

JL: What does running from convention mean to you?

Being your own boss and being responsible for the life you have whether you like it or hate it. If you want to create and do your own thing then make it happen, only you can do it for yourself. These past couple of years I have been really working on that for myself and I feel like it has been paying off. One thing that I can’t wrap my head around is how some people don’t have the need or want to create something. I feel like everyone as a kid has the need to create, but as we get older we get wrapped up with life and jobs. That desire to create takes a back seat. Regardless if you are making money creating artwork or dancing or playing music… we should always find time create and do what you love.

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