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Kid Needle: From Hip-Hop Fan to Rising Tattoo Artist

Discover Kid Needle's journey from a hip-hop-inspired youth to a global tattoo talent, marked by a memorable exchange with Kid Ink

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Kid Needle in action

At just 22 years old, Kid Needle is rapidly emerging as a prominent figure in the world of tattoo artistry, with a story deeply rooted in the beats and rhythms of hip-hop culture. Born in 2001, his fascination with tattoos sparked at the age of 12 after being captivated by Kid Ink's "Money and the Power." This early exposure not only influenced his musical tastes but also steered him towards the diverse and expressive world of tattoos. Kid Needle's journey in tattooing began earnestly in 2015, fueled by a desire to leave his mark on the global tattoo scene. His dedication to the craft led to a pinnacle moment in 2021 when he met his idol, Kid Ink, resulting in a memorable exchange of tattoos – a testament to his skills and passion. Kid Needle's story is one of inspiration, dedication, and the transformative power of art, as he continues to make strides in tattooing, with his needle painting stories on skin.

How did hip-hop culture, particularly Kid Ink's music, initially spark your interest in tattoos?

When I was 12 years old, I stumbled upon Kid Ink's 'Money and the Power' music video. It was a turning point for me, as I've been a huge fan of Kid ever since. One day, I came across a pictorial featuring Kid Ink, showcasing the diverse range of tattoo genres on his body, including some striking portrait tattoos. That was the moment I felt a deep attraction to the art of tattooing. Motivated by this inspiration, I purchased my first tattoo machine and some fake skin at the age of 13 and began my journey into the world of tattoo artistry.

Can you describe how your style has evolved since you first started tattooing in 2015?

Initially, I found myself deeply drawn to Chicano-style tattoos with their unique cultural and artistic expressions. However, as I delved deeper into the world of tattooing and expanded my knowledge, I became fascinated by classic sculpture tattoos. I discovered how these tattoos capture and reflect the richness of ancient cultures, blending history and art in a truly captivating way.

How do you approach a client's vision and work with them to create a piece that reflects their ideas?

Communication is key to realizing your vision. My approach involves deeply understanding the client's desired direction and seamlessly integrating it with my own unique style. This collaborative process is aimed at creating a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, distinct in its expression and unmatched in its execution.

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Could you walk us through your creative process when designing a new tattoo?

In truth, my process is quite straightforward. I begin by gathering as many reference photos as possible. Then, I meticulously combine these elements, striving to find the most harmonious and effective composition. This method allows me to ensure that the final design is both visually striking and perfectly aligned with the envisioned concept.

Do you have any favorite tattoo designs or styles that you particularly enjoy creating?

Until recently, my focus was on crafting micro-realistic designs that incorporated geometric lines. However, my artistic curiosity has recently shifted towards larger-scale tattoos. I am now enthusiastically exploring and creating more expansive and bold tattoo pieces, embracing the challenge and beauty of bigger canvases.

What is your biggest goal as a tattoo artist?

If you ask me about my ultimate ambition as a tattoo artist, it's a story of inspiration turning into reality. Ever since I chose this path, my paramount goal was to meet Kid Ink and have the honor of tattooing him. Astonishingly, I achieved this dream much sooner than anticipated. Having fulfilled that aspiration, I'm now methodically setting and pursuing new goals, each one shaping my journey in this art form.

Besides Kid Ink, are there any other artists, tattoo artists or individuals who have significantly influenced your work?

My inspirations are predominantly drawn from successful individuals. Specifically, I have been profoundly influenced by Jay Park, both as a rapper and a CEO. It's the journey of his success, his relentless passion, and his mindset that have significantly shaped my perspectives and approach in my own career.

Jay Park and Kid Needle

What are your goals or aspirations for the future in the world of tattoo artistry?

My aspiration is to broaden my recognition and earn the respect of a wider audience. My goal is not just to be known, but to be acknowledged for my artistry and skill. Additionally, I am driven to establish my personal brand in the world of tattooing. Ultimately, my vision is to channel this growth and recognition into creating my own tattoo studio, a space where my artistic expression can flourish and where I can share my passion with others.

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What advice would you give to young artists who are just starting out in the tattoo industry?

Stay focused and dedicated. With consistent effort and determination, advancing in your craft is just a matter of time. It's crucial to keep a keen understanding of the evolving tattoo scene and adapt swiftly to its changes. This approach will not only enhance your skills but also ensure you remain relevant and progressive in this dynamic field.

What was it like meeting and tattooing Kid Ink, and how has that experience influenced your approach to tattooing?

Experiencing the fulfillment of a dream I've harbored since childhood is indescribably exhilarating. The moment he stood before me, it was as if the entire universe had conspired in my favor. This encounter instilled in me a profound sense of confidence and motivation, reinforcing my belief that any goal I set in my future as a tattoo artist is within my reach.

Kid Needle tattooing Kid Ink

What was it like meeting top rappers such as YG and Chris Brown to hand them your portraits of them? Did you had the chance to tattoo them too?

As I said earlier, It was never easy for me, who was born and raised in South Korea. The joy I feel the moment I go through all the processes, big or small, to meet those rappers, and eventually they come before my eyes is beyond description. It feels like a movie. They told me they wanted to get a tattoo also, and although I had the chance to get them, they unfortunately didn't make it. I believe there will be a chance someday.

Chris Brown and Kid Needle
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