Krist Karloff started tattooing professionally in June of 2010.
A friend of his, Benny, owned a tattoo studio. Benny, also known as DJ Gummy because he learned how to spin records from Junior Vasquez (remember Madonna Calls?), was interested in teaching Krist how to tattoo. Unfortunately, before he was able to teach him, he passed away. Krist got a gummy bear tattoo in honor of Benny. Krist’s tattoo artist, St. Dennis, suggested Krist bring his portfolio into his studio sometime and chat with the owner.
Thinking his dream of being a tattoo artist died with his friend, Krist went ahead and met with the owner anyway. He ended up getting the apprenticeship, but things were so bad Krist quit tattooing for a while. He went back to a “normal” life, a normal life he hated.
Thankfully he was laid off because it made him question what he was doing with himself. He knew deep down that he wanted to be a tattoo artist. After working his way into a street shop and growing bored of flash, he moved to Nightingales Tattoo and that’s where his career really began.
Now Krist owns Evil Genius Tattoo Club in Lafayette, Indiana. “We have a great studio of like-minded people,” Krist explained, “We’re always having a great time! This is the first studio I have been in where there’s never any drama. I am truly honored to be working with these people and I can’t wait to see where their career takes them!”
Like many artists, Krist isn’t sure how to classify his style among others in his field. He most closely resembles a watercolor artist, but you can really tell how his art stands out among others. Krist told us, “A few years ago I had someone come into the studio that I was currently working at and she said, ‘Oh wow, you do those watercolor tattoos!’ I hadn’t even done a watercolor painting before. I had no idea what she was talking about until I looked it up and realized that there were other people doing things similar to what I was. It was kind of validating knowing that there was other people out there creating such rad artwork.”
Inspired by many painters such as Ralph Steadman, Krist’s style is constantly evolving. He enjoys creating art that is exaggerated and hectic. He loves crazy splatters and making a mess of things saying, “I have a very unique way of creating the look of my finished tattoo work. I call it GONZO tattooing…”
Krist lets the client’s idea and story inspire him, he says, “some of the simplest things give me incredible ideas. My brain is always moving a thousand miles per hour and sometimes it’s hard to calm the storm.”
Krist’s advice for getting a tattoo:
RESEARCH!!!!!! Look for an artist that is creating the type of art that you are interested in. Talk to them about your idea and take their opinion seriously. Not everything works as a tattoo and not every idea is appealing to every artist. You want someone who is excited about your idea! And let them make it their own. After all, you want a one of a kind piece of art that you could find in a museum as opposed to a billion regurgitated Pinterest photos, right?
Krist’s advice for getting started:
The same thing as getting your first tattoo. Research. Study art. Draw and pain constantly. Follow artists that inspire you. Seek out and work with other tattooers that inspire you. You won’t find your own style overnight. Just be honest with yourself and create artwork that is true to you. Don’t try to be someone else.
Contact Krist Karloff