It was Kid Kros‘ color work that caught my eye, at least initially. After learning how strongly his background in graffiti ties into his love for lettering, it’s safe to say I will probably always keep tabs on this Croatian tattooer. It’s amazing how many artists I would never be exposed to without the internet.

Of course, Kid was a bit of an internet phantom when I first came across his work–a man without an active internet presence can be rather tough to get in touch with. Thankfully, he’s since gotten onto  Facebook and was kind enough to grant us with an interview.

Tattoo Snob: I’m sure everyone would like to know the History of ‘Kid Kros’ – who are you, anyway?

Kid Kros: I am 33 years old, born and raised in Split, Croatia, where I still live and work… Been tattooing for 9 years now and go by the name Kid Kros. It’s the name from my graffiti background. I am part of the graffiti crew that got “kids” in the name of the crew, so Kid Kros it is… I use that name mostly because it was on my online portfolios from the start, and I participated in a few projects, books, conventions, with that name, so it just stuck with me.

I started tattooing about 9 years ago with handmade, jail-style machines. It’s just another “beginning story” really–the same way 90 % of the tattoo artists out there started. Tattooing whoever wanted to get tattooed in my room; just doing it without any knowledge of anything.

Things became more serious when I bought my first starter kit, and after spending some time doing tattoos “out of the kitchen” I went looking for a ‘real job’. I started at a local tattoo shop and stayed there for several years before moving to my friend’s shop.

TS: You’ve mentioned before that your family is supportive of your pursuit of being a tattooer. Do you think there was any particular reason they were so cool about it?

Kid: Yes, my family was always supportive either with graffiti or tattooing, as long as I’m happy with it. When I first started with graffiti my parents were not too happy about it. At least illegal aspect of it–they always thought that was just a phase in my adolescence.

My father was a sailor. He came back home from the boat one time with a tattoo–a heart with a dagger on his forearm. So he was familiar with the art form.

TS: What kind of weight did being tattooed carry socially at that point?

Kid: I was just a kid then, can’t remember how old I was, but I thought it was really cool. It was the first time I saw a tattoo, and it was just some old school flash. After that I always drew swords, daggers, that kind of stuff. I knew to draw his tattoo exactly as it was, and I still could copy it from my memory. I remember that my grandparents were not so happy about it, but for me it was mystical thing.

TS: When it comes to sailor-related tattoo imagery, do you have any favorites? Anything you’ve had tattooed on yourself in homage to your father?

Kid: I like all of the sailor-related stuff, but don’t have any favorites. I’m not picky when it comes to tattooing. If it’s up to me, I won’t do tribal. Not that I have something against tribal tattoos–I have much respect for tribal art, and tattoo artists that do only tribal–it’s just not for me.

I’m cool with anything that will translate into a nice tattoo.

TS: Tell us about your background in graffiti. What made you so interested in it, did you have a particular style or location you preferred?

Kid: Graffiti is my first love. It all started when I was a teenager as some kind of rebellion against the world. I am not as active nowadays as I was in the past. Tattooing is taking all of my time now. I do a piece now and then, a graffiti jam also, just to see some old friends and have a good time.

TS: Do you think graffiti led you to tattooing at all? Or would you have wound up there anyway?

Kid: Hmmm, hard to say… it sure helped a lot. Everything from colors, flow and composition, to letter forms. I see that many graffiti writers became tattoo artist. Might be something with art medium you work on. When you hit all kind of surfaces, eventually it’s time to hit the skin, hahaha.

TS: As an aside that has more to do with graffiti than tattooing, within the US the term “con safos” has become heavily associated with the art form. Is there some equivalent within Croatia – or elsewhere in Europe?

Kid: No, we don’t have anything like C/S in Croatia. As far as my knowledge goes, I don’t think there is something like C/S in Europe, either.

TS: Give us some insight as to what it’s like living & working in Croatia as a tattooer. What’s the tattoo scene like there? Forgive my ignorance – but is there one?

Kid: I think that working here as a tattoo artist is little harder than in the bigger countries. Croatia is small country with just 4.5 million people–we don’t have real tattoo scene. Lack of requests for bigger works is reflected on your progression as an tattoo artist. Tattooing is not like other art, where you can push yourself and grow as an artist just working alone, from your home – you need customers.

The only thing I can do is work hard, and give my best to what I do.

TS: Given how much heavy color work I’ve seen of yours online, I was surprised to learn that words/lettering tattoos are among your favorites to do. Why is that?

Kid: I’m in love with letters. In general, not just tattooing. When I was just a kid, I was drawing logos and signs that I saw around me… and fonts, I was obsessed with all kind of fonts. Then came graffiti. I guess that was just a natural follow-up…

There are a lot of great artists in every style of tattooing today, but very few when it comes to lettering. I’ve already mentioned that lettering doesn’t get enough credit. Tattoo artists study all kind of styles and the history of tattooing, but it’s sad to see good tattoo ruined with poor lettering, or some script font from computer. And that happens frequently in our industry, I think.

TS: Do you have a shop you call home? Do you travel much or are you a stay-at-home type of tattooer?

Kid: I work at my friend’s studio, atelier El Magico in Split. I don’t travel as much as I would like to, but I have few guest spots and conventions to do in the near future.

TS: I know tattooing keeps you VERY busy, but do you still have time to put toward other non-tattoo artistic pursuits?

Kid: I try to do only custom tattoos. 99% of my work is custom. Even if it’s just a butterfly, I draw it. When you’re doing several tattoos a day and spending all day in studio, you have to do your drawing at night.

I still find some time for other stuff: painting, graffiti, spending time with friends, making my beautiful woman happy…

TS: Artistically, what/who are your greatest influences?

Kid: There are so many people in tattooing today and through the past in which I find some kind of inspiration. I wouldn’t name anyone in particular, because there are too many to list–not only in tattooing but in all artistic fields. If you are open minded, it’s surprising how much you can learn–from people that maybe know less than you do–even outside of tattooing.

I learned a lot from others; not so much in technical aspects of art, but in other creative aspects.
Today you can surf on the internet and find some other artist that just blow you mind. I love when that happens!

To get in touch with Kid Kros, please contact him via Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/kidkros

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