We had the good fortune of connecting with Kris Kezar and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kris, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
When I was younger, I would work much longer hours, and take a lot less time for myself. As I get older, I’ve realized that the time I take on my own, whether it’s spending time with my family watching movies and tv shows, or being by myself, drawing for myself, or just playing videogames and reading books, is vital to being a creative person. I get a lot of my inspiration from the quit time I spend alone, from reading, listening to music, and sketching nothing in particular. I think if you are focused on work all of the time, you tend to just keep repeating the same patterns over and over again, and that’s a death spiral for a business, especially for creatives. In order to keep things fresh and new and get new ideas, you need to go experience and try new things. It’s hard to do that if you are working all of the time.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I don’t know how to describe my art. Because I’m constantly creating for other people, the line between my vision and my client’s vision is often pretty blurry. When I get to sneak away and work on stuff that’s just for me, I try to create a sense of wonder. I love art nouveau, but I also love realism, and my personal art hovers somewhere between the two ( or at least I would like it to). I want to create art that leaves the viewer wanting to know more about the story behind the piece. Being a professional artist is difficult. For one thing, you have to learn to live with a certain amount of uncertainty, You never know when the feast will end and the famine will begin, and vice versa. You also need to be wise enough to know when you have something worth sharing with the world, brave enough to share it, and tough enough to deal with the fact that some people will absolutely loath your art, or will just enjoy trashing what you have just spend countless hours pouring your soul into for fun– and you have to have the resilience to keep doing it. One of the most important lessons I think I’ve learned is that you never know where inspiration will come from, so it’s good to try and experience and learn as much as you can. I’ve been inspired by textbooks, mathematical theorems, music, historical events, as well as the more usual mediums. The broader your interests are the more varied your influence will be. I think it’s important for artists and creatives to do things that aren’t directly art related.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
That’s a difficult question, especially now with covid! Assuming no pandemic–I love the museums, and just the whole area of Balboa park, when people come visit we usually take them there. Every time I go to the San Diego Museum of Art I’m blown away, and I kick myself for not going more often. Then there’s the San Diego Zoo, and The Wild Animal Park, which if you’re an animal lover like me, are both amazing. The restaurant right across the street from my work, Dunedin, is awesome. The staff is super friendly, the food is always excellent, and the atmosphere is really nice. If we are going out for just drinks, I think you can’t beat Raised by Wolves. It’s really just a great experience from the entrance, to the beautiful bar area, to the exit. One of the best things about San Diego is the diversity of environments. If you want to you can go to the city, to the beach, to the mountains, and the desert all in one day. We really are fortunate here.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
So many people have helped me get to where I am today. Tom Blessing, the first person to apprentice me, and teach me about being a tattooer, Darren Nightingale, the first person who took me on as a professional tattooer. So many artists I have worked with over the years who have passed on words of wisdom, not just about work and career, but also about life, including Nicky Chance who we just recently lost. My friends Sky and Soda, from the last shop I worked at before where I am now, who encouraged me to travel and to come out if my introverted shell a little more. The owner of Remington Tattoo Terry Ribera, where I currently work, who has given me so much amazing advice on creating artwork, and who also happens to be an all around amazing kind, helpful person. He has given me a lot of freedom to go and pursue my personal goals, and I can’t thank him enough for that. My amazing clientele, who have many times become my good friends, I’m so humbled and thankful that I have had their trust, and patience over the years, and that they believed in me to create something wonderful and beautiful for them. Last but not least, my wife, who has put up with being with a professional artist, and all the ups and downs that go with it, for the past 16 years. I couldn’t do what I do without her love and support.
The photograph of me tattooing was was taken by Spencer Tuck– instagram: angry_tuck