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Art & Life with Kris Kezar

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kris Kezar.

Kris, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil. My father was a technical illustrator for General Dynamics, and my mother acted, did stage makeup and painted. I always wanted to do something art related, but figured it was a pipe dream, so I started working construction after of high school. I started drawing tattoo designs for friends, and when I was injured on the job my father persuaded me that maybe I should switch careers. I went to what felt like nearly every tattoo shop in San Diego looking for an apprenticeship, and finally found someone who let me get my foot in the door. I ended up getting transferred to a different shop run by the same owner, but I didn’t do well there and eventually I left. I eventually ended up apprenticing for a different person, and after a while there I went out on my own and ended up landing my first position as a full time tattooed. That was around 2003 and I’ve been tattooing ever since.

Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I draw, I paint, and I tattoo. When started learning how to tattoo, we were doing pretty much all walk-ins, and it was all flash-art, pre-drawn designs posted on the walls of the shop. You never knew what you were going to do that day, maybe some American traditional, maybe some cursive script, maybe black and grey realism. So, I never really developed a “style,” until I started being able to do more custom pieces later on in my career. Other than tattooing, I paint, using mostly oil on board, and I do a lot of drawings using colic markers.

I’ve always been a big fan of Art Nouveau, specifically Alphonse Mucha, but I’ve been influenced by a lot of different illustators and painters, from Jon Foster, Gerald Brom, and Adam Hughes, to Maxfield Parish, J.C. Leyendecker, and Carvaggio, I don’t know if there’s any specific message in my work. What I really strive for is a sense of wonder. I want to draw things that make people say “Wow.” I’m still very much learning and growing in my craft, and I feel like I still have a long way to go.

In your view, what is the biggest issue artists have to deal with?
I think a general misunderstanding about creatives (the people creating things), and the creative process is a huge challenge facing artists of all types. Many times, people tend to view art as a product. On its own, detached from the client/artist relationship, it can be; but a lot of the time art is a service. Artists, for the most part, are creating one-offs every time, so there is no “average” price, or time spent. And you can’t necessarily get the same thing from the guy down the street, everything is different. I don’t think people realize the time, and dedication it takes to make art. So, we have a public that wants art, and claims to appreciate art, but has a drastically different idea of what the value of art is than compared the people actually producing it.

Today we have more “graphic design” than actual art. People manipulate other people’s images, or re-use stock art, but there’s very little actual original creation going on. It takes a lot less time, and because of that it’s a lot cheaper, so more people end up just stealing other people’s work and manipulating it just enough to say it’s theirs instead of coming up with something on their own. You hardly ever see beautiful illustrations used in advertisements anymore. And that means we might never have a next generation Mucha, Rockwell, or Leyendecker, because there’s no work for someone who creates original artwork like they did.

What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I currently work at Remington Tattoo in the North Park area of San Diego. The best way to see my work is online, through my Instagram: tattoosbykriskezart, and on my website: I’d love to put paintings in galleries, but it’s not always easy being taken seriously as a fine artist when you start out tattooing. I’ve been a part of several art shows, but always focused on tattoos who paint, never as a fine-art only event. The best way to support my art is probably to come get tattooed! I do take commissions for custom paintings and colic drawings, but I have a lot less time for that lately, as I’ve been pretty busy just tattooing.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
All photos of my artwork taken by me. Photo of myself and my client taken by Spencer Tuck.

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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