The boundary between illustrations and tattoos is more and more thin and often artists doesn’t hesitate to go through this boundary to propose their illustrations as a artwork to ink.
Kirk Wallace, illustrator from Massachusetts, is part of these illustrators who one day bring their illustrations to life on skin. And if the artist did it, it’s especially because people asked him to do it.« At first sight, I really thought that my style and illustrations probably don’t relate too well to tattoo illustrations, confess us Kirk. Mainly because I don’t think my colorful crazy style would translate too well for a tattoo that I would want on my body. That’s why I took the simple geometrical route I did when I did mine in homage to my father. That, and because math, science, angles, etc all had a lot to do with what dad and I shared in common interest. It all just worked out. So when I started getting these commissions after the popularity of my tattoo, of course everyone wanted something very similar in style. So I got caught a bit doing this style that while fun, isn’t something I had plans to make routine. I love doing them and when they get tattooed onto people, its amazing. The tattoo artists have all done such a great job of bringing my illustrations to life. »
But there’s something about it that just isn’t 100% there currently. Perhaps because I’m too distracted by my own work, or because the intimidation level is there, that this is going to be on someone forever. I’m not totally sure. But for now, my heart just isn’t in it 100% and that’s why I choose to focus on others illustrations projects. I don’t think that’s fair to someone to charge them for me to do something half assed. »
And we can say that Kirk has his head full of projects! Young freelance illustrator passionated by skateboarding and punk rock Kirk began early in the illustration.
« Like most of the people in my shoes I’ve been drawing since forever basically. I can remember drawing x-men and ninja turtles when i was tiny, and ninjas and south park characters when i was a little older. I grew up on comics and cartoons thanks to 3 older brothers and always loved this sort of stuff. Unfortunately I never realized you could do it as a job without being a famous cartoonist. So I went to college for computer science but quickly I realize that the projects I loved was about choosing the colors, creating the visuals, etc. That’s how I started learning how to use Illustrator. Everything I did then was really terrible, but I was having sooo much fun learning and creating and aspiring to be as good as my inspiration that it didn’t matter. So really I’ve been a small time artist all my life, from clothing to skateboard stickers, drawing on chalk boards, etc. But it wasn’t until I finished college that I realized I could actually do this. »
His process has led him to create his own style of illustration. He describes himself its work as ridiculous and fun : «I use as well the word hyperbolic. I like to accentuate certain things. For example if someone is running real fast, lets give him 4 legs instead of 2. Or just other absurdities that you can’t normally do without drawing. Like breaking physical laws. I drew a bow and arrow the other day and the string for the bow had all kinds of loops and knots in it. Stuff that wouldn’t make sense normally, but gives the image more interest. I try to rely a lot on lines and shapes to give images life and motion. I really get a kick out of drawing every day objects and just trying to make them as interesting as possible. Like salt and pepper shakers etc. I enjoy drawing characters too to tell stories. Theres a lot of subtle details I put in my work.I think the viewers get a kick from it too. »
Which is crazy with Kirk is that you could listen him to talk hours and hours. Everything he’s saying about its work is said with passion. And it’s so naturally that each of its tattoos has a wonderful meaning to him : « As I previously said, I have this tattoo made in homepage to my father died of cancer… I have one other I drew myself, that took a similar route again. Simple, black only. It’s a bonsai tree. I got it in Hawaii. The tattoo artist did a great job of keeping it almost exact to what I had provided. Under the bonsai tree it says, ‘Don’t karma to karma, just… karma’ and the combination of the two is essentially. You know I’ve recently treated my life as a bonsai tree. You can clip the branches and guide them in the right direction. But only YOU can do that, as the owner of the bonsai. The owner of your life. So I’ve always been fascinated with them. I think they’re aesthetically great too. In life I try to trim away the rotting things, the dead leafs, the fat to stay moving forward and happy. So my life is like a bonsai. I got the phrase tattooed on me to remind myself, not to be nice for any reason other to .. just being nice. But that’s all I’ve got for now. I hope to expand on them in the future for sure. I really like getting the ones I have gotten. I can see why people are covered.»
Kirk is getting more and more demands about his work on print, so he’s working now on his own e-shop.