As Henri Matisse so poignantly said “creativity takes courage”. This certainly rings true for all artists, as it takes a lot of boldness to freely express ourselves and challenge normalcy. So those who are unafraid of criticism and fearlessly explore their own creative capacity can truly be considered artists. And as we progress, more and more art forms are born thanks to the innovative imaginations of modern-day creatives. Just take for example Eden Kozokaro’s stunning pop culture tattoos. This Israel-born tattoo artist’s work fuses together iconic art from the masters with contemporary pop culture icons, and the results are absolutely brilliant!
Eden Kozokaro, more popularly known as Kozo became a worldwide sensation for his incredible pop culture designs. Colored tattoos are always visually more captivating, but Kozo takes it to an entirely different level. Kozo’s pop culture designs are so detailed and precise that it’s mind-boggling. The steady lines, gorgeous and smooth gradients of his micro tattoos give this surreal effect that makes you wonder if what you’re seeing is actually a tattoo. It’s so refined that they look more like those pretty water based temporary tattoos you slap on during festival season… but better.
Kozo began doing tattoos when one of his skater friends let him try
Most of the time, people find their calling when they least expect it. This certainly rings true for Kozo, who started out after his friend let him try his hand at it. “One of my skater friends bought the cheapest machine we could find on eBay,” Kozo recounted in an interview. “He let me try it out and eventually, he became my first client.” It didn’t take long for the budding tattooist to seek out more opportunities to work on his craft. After all, practice makes perfect! To do this, he began offering free tattoos to everyone he knew. And the more tattoos he did, his skills got better and better, and his clients began spreading good word about Kozo’s tattoos.
You might think that tattoos are taboo in Kozo’s home country, Israel. But that is not the reality. Tattooing has proliferated in the country over the years, despite divided opinions and religious restrictions. Many Israelis have tattoos. Most get inked to show off their ethnic roots while others aim for artistic self-expression. According to Kozo, the “tattoo culture is very small, loving, and supportive. My tattooer friends and I are trying our best to show everyone that tattoos are nothing less than an expression of art”.
This is the very first tattoo Kozo ever shared on Instagram
The talented tattooist applies his painting-like technique to his work
Kozo’s been painting since he was 8 years old, which explains his immense knowledge and refined style. So when his fascination with tattooing grew, he sought for a way to apply his painting knowledge. Now his art bleeds through a needle instead of a paint brush (he still paints sometimes). Since he now uses skin as his canvas, the possibilities are endless. But Kozo chooses to create micro tattoos instead of large ones so that he can render his work as precisely as possible. He also said that he prefers to do micro tattoos for people who can’t commit to a sleeve or bigger pieces of work.
However, despite the cuteness of micro and minimalist tattoos, some remain wary of getting colored ink on their skin. This is one of the things that Kozo is attempting to disprove through each and every one of his vibrant tattoos. “There are many who think minimalistic colored tattoos won’t heal well,” he said. “That’s why it’s important for me to post my healed tattoos.”
A lot of Kozo’s pop culture tattoos features a fusion of contemporary and fine art
Pop culture has a strong influence on our lives, no matter the genre or format it’s presented in. Certain celebrities, video game characters, fictional characters from bestselling novels and blockbuster movies and even musicians have a special place in our hearts. This is most likely because we resonate with a message or story that they represent or their influence had a positive effect in our life. Because of this sentiment, a lot of people choose to have pop culture tattoos when they finally muster up the courage to get inked.
Kozo is more than happy to help honor your love for pop culture characters and fine art. His wide range allows him to tattoo a portrait of Wall-E, Mike and Sully, and other 90’s childhood icons. But his awesome twist on fine art is really what sets Kozo apart from most tattooists. Kozo’s tattoos may be small, but their wow factor definitely isn’t. He reimagines popular characters and fuses them together with another iconic piece to create a masterpiece of his own.
These tattoos are anything but typical
For example, he made The Simpsons cross Abbey Road instead of The Beatles. He also paid tribute to Heath Ledger and Joaquin Pheonix, who are regarded to have done the best portrayals of The Joker by inking them side by side. But his most epic designs involve his masterful manipulations of masterpieces. Kozo made Mona Lisa melt, and he incorporated Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Almond Blossoms into the Self Portrait. But most arguably, the most tongue in cheek art history twist that Kozo’s probably done so far is his reimagination of Da Vinci’s Last Supper starring Spongebob Squarepants, Deadpool, Aang and Albert Einstein sat at the table! These quirky and clever micro tattoos are definitely something you’d be proud to show off!
Celebrate your love for Japanese pop culture because Kozo loves it too
“I’m very influenced by the Japanese animation of Studio Ghibli. For me, they create the highest level of art. Their detailed and aesthetic designs have moved me since I started painting.”
He also draws inspiration from his travels
“Traveling has inspired a lot of my designs and showed me how to the language of art connects people. My favorite place to travel is South Korea. I’m very influenced by Korean artists and culture.”
Tattoo Artist Kozo has gone a long way from offering free tattoos
“I’m always exploring different cultures and cities. So, I plan on leaving Tel Aviv by the time I’m 23 and hope to keep creating everyday around the world.”
These were Kozo’s exact words in his January interview with tattoo magazine. Not a month later, he announced that he would be moving to New York to join the Bang Bang team. Bang Bang is a tattoo shop in New York. If you’re interested in getting a unique pop culture tattoo by Kozo, you can learn more about it here.