Interview: Surrealist Tattoo Artist, Kozo

Currently working in NYC, this creative started experimenting in his field at 17 years old

Some of the most moving artworks throughout history confound the mind, and the same is true of tattoos. Eden Kozokaro—best known as Kozo—is a surrealist tattoo maker who has taken to creating his meticulously detailed work on the canvas that is the human body since he was 17 years old. Now, seven years later, Kozo comes to NYC by way of Israel, where he learned and perfected his craft. Working from Bang Bang in SoHo, Kozo often blends pop culture with significant works of fine art to create unique, one-of-a-kind pieces for each client. We sat down with Kozo to learn more about his background, his process and the ways fine artists—including the Old Masters—have influenced not only his work, but his approach to success.

How did you get into tattooing?

I have always been fascinated with art and studied drawing and painting throughout all my teenage years. I eventually began tattooing at the age of 17 with a machine I got off of eBay. My first proud clients being my friends who let me tattoo them in my bedroom.

How did you develop your style?

The first micro-realistic colored tattoo I did was the famous painting, “The Persistence of Time” by Salvador Dali. I fell in love with the result and knew that this is a style I would like to dig deeper into and eventually master.

Tell us a little about how you’re influenced by fine art—oftentimes the Old Masters. 

I am inspired by traditional painters such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Jacques-Louis David, but not just by their paintings as much as their persistence and work ethic. Today, social media assists people to sky-rocket to fame overnight, but these figures often remind me that good things take time.

Your style is unique, but how do you feel that you fit into larger tattoo culture?

I feel like my designs portray a fusion of many different tattoo styles, as I am constantly inspired by nowadays artists, including tattoo artists.

What’s the most difficult portion of your process?

When it comes to micro-realistic tattoos, one of the main challenges artists face is adding a lot of detail in a very limited amount of time. Tattoos in general, it’s the fact that we are not working on canvas but on human skin that is sensitive to pain.

Each tattoo you make is entirely unique, can you tell us more about that?

I’ll never do the same tattoo twice. I always enjoy doing tattoos with great stories behind them, and I enjoy clients that provide me the freedom to tattoo wild designs that I’ve created.

Images courtesy of Kozo