Interview with Kodi Klo
Kodi began tattooing with his father when he was in high school. He graduated in the summer of 2009 and starting full time. His work is influenced by illustrative art, Japanese paintings, sacred geometry, and graffiti art. Like too many others, the pandemic hit, and his business was forced to close. He adapted and took on his next creative challenge: mural art.
Kodi gave us this interview shortly after completing his work, Awakening, a mural outside St. Paul’s Lutheran Church’s Heart Gallery. Here is what he had to say about the project and his art in general.
When did you first realize you were an artist?
Starting at a very young age, I was always involved in some art form or medium because my father was a well-rounded artist. Whatever he was doing I wanted to be involved.
What mediums were you using when you started? Do you ever return to your roots?
I started mostly with the basics: pencil and paper. I still return to my roots every single day. While coming up with tattoo concepts or for paintings.
What have been some of your biggest challenges as an artist?
My biggest challenges being an artist would be developing my own style and not getting discouraged for others not liking this style. I’m like a sponge: I’m always looking at new techniques!
What have been some of the greatest rewards?
Some of the best rewards for being an artist, whether it be tattooist or painter, I get to do what I love every single day for a living. A lot of individuals do not find what they enjoy as a hobby, yet alone get to do it for a living.
Can you tell us a bit about your experience as a tattoo artist? When did you start with Toledo Tattoo Company? How have things changed for you as a tattoo artist from your first client to today?
Like I said before, I have always been involved in some form of art since I can remember. My father was a tattooist and the owner of Toledo Tattoo Company. I apprenticed underneath my father during high school and started tattooing professionally the summer after graduation in 2009. Things have definitely changed in the time between my first client and today. Ha ha. For example, when I first started you start with zero clientele, and it really takes a lot of time and discipline to pull long hours in at the studio to become a better artist and build up clientele. Now I am booked for a few months at minimum all the time, which is crazy. Hard work does pay off. My father passed away almost 3 years ago, so I took over the business and have taken it to where it is today. Toledo Tattoo Company is Northwest Ohio’s oldest and most respected tattoo studio since 1978.
When did you do your first mural?
I did my first mural on the side of my studio in Point Place located 4747 N. Summit St. Toledo, Ohio. I purchased the building and did renovation. I had to give my place something that it never had before.
I actually painted over my first mural with a new piece. My first mural was an eagle fighting a snake. I love to paint subjects that pertain to the area and make sense.
Tattoos tend to be very personal. For many, it’s immortalizing a fundamental piece of who they are in flesh. Murals, however, become a part of the greater community. Can you speak a little bit about the difference between the two art forms, how switching between them has been for you, and what it means to be able to utilize your artistic abilities at such different scales?
Tattooing has definitely come a long way in the last 10 years, definitely a little bit more socially acceptable. They are still frowned upon by a lot of people which is all personal preference. Switching between the mediums was not a big challenge for me. I’m used to having one shot to get something perfect when doing a tattoo. With painting, it is definitely less stressful because if you make a mistake, you can paint right over it. The only challenge I ran into was painting on such a large scale.
What does your recent mural at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church mean to you on a personal/professional level? What do you think it means to the community?
This piece was my biggest so far. It was definitely an honor to paint this mural. Having full artistic freedom was definitely fun and challenging at the same time. Hearing all the positive reactions from the community is great! While I was painting, probably a few hundred people stopped by during the process and took pictures, etc. Definitely proud to be a part of this community! I love to make my murals bright and colorful to help brighten up someone’s day, especially in the times we are all going through.
How did you decide what direction to take the mural?
At the Heart Gallery, I actually came up with the entire design. They really didn’t have too much in mind other than they wanted hearts incorporated within the piece. So I did some research and took a tour of the church to gather my ideas and came up with a rendering. They were very shocked upon how much work I put into the sketch and how everything had meaning.
What’s next for you as an artist? A mural like the one at St. Paul’s is huge. Do you have plans for bigger things in the future?
Absolutely. Definitely still getting my name up there for murals. I have only been painting for one year. I started painting when my business got shut down for the pandemic. I was forced to find another way to earn an income and fell in love. I have a few more murals in the works, So, be on the lookout!
Is there anything else you’d like to mention about any aspect of your artistic journey?
I can’t be any more grateful for the love and support from my friends, family and loyal clients! For all inquiries, my contact is: firstname.lastname@example.org 419-726-1300