Conceptual look at blackwork tattoo by Kodsuno
In our search for a new, fresh breath of modern tattooing, more than once we have discovered tattoo artists who once again prove with their creativity that art cannot be measured by likes or followers.
Today, we want to introduce to you Kodsuno, whose tattoos, due to their originality, are difficult to attribute to any particular style. In her illustrative tattoo, you can see elements of fineline, blackwork and some posterization of images. The combination of this cocktail with oriental motifs turns each Kodsuno's work into a complex, detailed, intricate, impeccably balanced and most stylish tattoo.
We decided to find out how she managed to find something new in the seemingly already studied world of modern blackwork tattoo.
Please, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from, what did you do before the tattoo?
- My name is Xiaoling Li. I prefer to use the name "kodsuno", which I developed for myself, for any art-related endeavors. I was born in Beijing, China, and raised there. My family originated from both North and South Korea. I began tattooing immediately after graduating from School of Visual Arts with a bachelor's degree in fine art. I perform both tattooing and illustration.
How and when did you decide to become a tattoo artist? Who taught you? How was it?
- In my senior year, I made the decision to become a tattoo artist. I spent a whole year building a tattoo portfolio with the expectation that I would show it to a large number of tattoo artists and eventually receive an offer from someone interested in my style and vision. When I went to Lovers & Killers to get a tattoo from one of their artists, the shop's owner, Ele, noticed my portfolio and convinced me to join the team. After receiving numerous rejections from other tattoo artists, this opportunity was presented to me. What a surprise. I received what I desired without requesting it. My diligence in preparing the portfolio has just unexpectedly paid off. Ele was quite impressed by my work, and I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right moment. And the most incredible part is that I get the chance to work with one of the most renowned American tattoo masters.
Let’s talk about your work. What is the name of the style you work in?
- I refuse to place my work in a preexisting style since I am personally opposed to doing so. I endeavor to create a style that incorporates the best elements of old traditional styles and goes farther, which are more modern, more personal and more unique. My tattoos technically fall within the realm of blackwork and fineline. Occasionally black and grey.
What do you think is the highlight of your work that sets you apart from other artists?
- First, I believe that my superb academic background is of great use to me. I graduated from one of the world's most prestigious art schools and had a thorough and comprehensive art education. While the majority of tattoo artists begin their careers as amateurs with little or no formal schooling. I believe that my original concepts and drawing style resonate with a large number of people. I distinguish myself by making a concerted effort not to belong or imitate any existing style.
I believe there are already too many people doing that, and I find the concept of copying pretty tedious. I believe that my education has instilled in me a strong appreciation for originality and the importance of infusing my true emotions, thoughts, and beliefs into my projects. I believe that a tattoo should be more than merely a copy of old classics. It should resemble fine art more. Creativity and inventiveness are fundamental qualities an established tattoo artist must possess.
You were educated at the School of Visual Arts. Tell me more about this stage of your life. How did it help you in your tattoo career?
- I had a great deal of creative freedom without regard to purpose, and this helped me establish my style. I was able to create for fun, meaning, and belief without worrying about "if people are going to like it", "if someone is going to book this", "is this going to be popular", or "will this design allow me to pay my rent" I believe that thinking "I need to sell this" kills the joy of creation and corrupts the result. School instilled in me the mentality of constantly creating genuinely and being obstinately genuine. And it turns out that my clients really appreciate it about me, thus I ended up making money without even intending to.
Tell me, where do you look for inspiration?
- According to me, there are various sources. I drew inspiration from roughly art deco-era illustrators. Alphonse Mucha, George Barbier, and Aubrey Beardsley are among my favorite artists. Modern painters such as Takato Yamamoto and Audrey Kawazaki have greatly inspired and affected my linework quality. In addition, reference books on Qing Dynasty, imperial China jewels, accessories, apparel, and architecture.
Do you have any favorite tattoo projects? Can you tell about them?
- My favorite is this blackwork effort involving the creation of original nymph tattoos. Essentially, clients come to me with a specific, sometimes vague concept, and I design a lady/nymph/fairy/elf/magical girl character for them in my style. Typically, just blackwork is used to fully display the lifework and illustration. I built my own version of Diana, the goddess of wild animals and the hunt, for instance. I portrayed her with hair in the shape of a flame, holding a bow and arrow, and accompanied by her hound. I developed the half-snake, half-human "naga" deity. I take pleasure in designing jewelry, clothing, and accessories for these figures. It is like a fantasy come true.
Tell me about the place where you currently work.
- My visa status prevents me from working at now. Previously, I was employed by Lovers & Killers. Owner Ele is also my mentor; on my birthday, he gave me my first private tattoo machine and instructed me in the art of tattooing. Our shop focuses on the "true" aspects of tattooing, such as design, execution, and the pursuit of perfection. We do not care about the appearance, the so-called lifestyle, or the superficial aspects of tattooing, such as fashion and social media. It is a place where all the artists have a simple philosophy of "creating good tattoos and nothing else matters" or "making good tattoos and the rest will follow." I cannot wait to receive my new employment status and return to work!
Do you participate in conventions? Do you have awards from tattoo festivals?
- I haven’t participated in any of them yet due to the pandemic, even though I was invited to a few. but I have plans already and will do in the future for sure.
Where can we see you in the near future? Do you have any plans that you would like to share?
- I want to push myself further in my style. I believe that tattoo designs and fine art can be combined harmoniously, and that there are no limits or restrictions on this practice. I hope that my tattooing styles will become increasingly personal and distinctive, which is essentially what is happening in the present tattooing scene. The idea is to push hard and further with my design, my drawing, and my execution, and to see where that leads.