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Rising Stars: Meet Andrew Kim

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrew Kim.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
After finishing art school, I was floating around doing odd jobs. Everything except art. It wasn’t until I decided to get my first tattoo that I fell in love with the art, lifestyle and industry. Nine years ago, I started my apprenticeship and after a very slow start, I became a professional four years later. Even then, it was a rocky start to my career.

Working for Carlos Torres has been a dream of mine from the beginning of my infatuation with tattooing. In March of 2021, that dream became a reality and I got to join the crew at The Raven and the Wolves. My short stint at the studio has been nothing short of amazing. The mentorship, crew and shop has been a complete blessing. I am extremely proud and lucky to be here and plan on pushing myself in all aspects of art and life.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Short answer, no.

Since the start of my apprenticeship, it’s been nothing but setbacks after setbacks. Good apprenticeships are hard to come by. Facing that challenge, I had to find any way to get my foot in the door. I found a one man operation and he took me in. He wasn’t a very good artist and it wasn’t a reputable shop. However, I saw it as my only way to become a tattoo artist. That didn’t last long as he was a drug addict and dealer. He ran into financial problems and pressured me for money. I was an apprentice, I didn’t make any money.

I found another shop to apprentice at where I met great friends but the owner and operation was atrocious. He constantly berated us for stealing and not trying while he took any money the shop made and spent it at the strip club. The entire crew left and I was left stranded again. After working out of my home, I found a shop to take me in as a bonafide professional.

Even until this point, clients have been hard to come by because each shop didn’t have enough, especially for an apprentice/newer artist. I didn’t get consistent skin time until just three years ago. Bounced around a few more times until I finally landed at my dream shop.

Much more nitty-gritty in between but I’ll save those for a separate time

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I enjoy black and grey realism the most of all styles. This is the reason I got into tattooing. Especially that East LA/Chicano style; clown girls, west coast script, money bags, etc. Not sure how an Asian kid from the suburbs got so drawn to it but I did. However, through my journey of learning the craft, I’ve come to love all styles of tattooing. Everything from traditional to illustrative, to Japanese and everything in between. I’m constantly learning and improving in all but black and grey realism will always be my first love.

What matters most to you? Why?
I only ever cared about being considered one of the best tattoo artists in the world and garnering the respect of those I respected. Money and fame was never the ultimate goal. My motivation has always been the art and craft of tattooing. I believe my legacy won’t ever be measured in my wealth. It’ll be in my impact on the industry and my peers. There are plenty of artists who seek either money, clout or both. Do you. I do my best to ignore them and stay on my personal course. I’ve finally been able to surround myself with like-minded people and thriving in that environment. Even if I had two followers if those two followers are artists I respected who follow me because they like my work, I’ll die happy.

Pricing:

  • $180/hr
  • $150 minimum

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Photo of me: Eran Ryan-Chesler

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