Art Is Everything: Interview with Tattoo Artist Kaiju Rapture

Art Is Everything: Interview with Tattoo Artist Kaiju Rapture

Canada is home to some of the finest professional tattoo artists, one of them being the incredibly skilled Kaiju Rapture. Kaiju has made her mark on the tattoo scene, honing her style in Fine Line tattoos and specializing in delicate floral pieces and life-like animal portraits. We sat down with Kaiju Rapture at Chronic Ink in Vancouver, Canada, to talk shop about her start, struggles and success in the industry. Oh, and celebrity tattoos.

1. Tell us about the early days. How did you get into tattooing?

I definitely had an interesting start in my career. I was working from 7:00 am to 12:00 am, struggling to support my family as both of my parents weren't working due to health issues, and I was the only one in my household capable of making income. My dear friend, who was a tattoo artist, recommended that I should learn how to tattoo. I got rejected by a bunch of local studios, but luckily my friend took me under his wing to practice. I ended up working all day, then would come home at midnight to practice tattooing on myself and on pig skin that I would buy from the local butcher every day. From there, I began working under my current partner Ed, who has helped me greatly to be where I am today. I'm very, very fortunate to have my clients trust me early in my career -- I wouldn't know where I would be without their support.

2. What inspires you and what fuels your creativity?

Art is everything for me. I aspire to be better every day; the inspiration is everywhere -- especially now with social media. I think at the end of the day, all I'm trying to do is reach the level of artistic skill (or even just get close) of the masters.

3. How would you describe your style of tattooing and how do you see your style evolving?

I think I do a little bit of everything within the Fine Line realm. I do a lot of floral tattoos with delicate thin lines and small realism pieces like dogs, statues etc.; I certainly hope to evolve into doing more realistic genres of work on a larger scale. I'll always enjoy doing micro pieces, though.

4. What is your favourite tattoo that you’ve created?

I did this huge chest piece of peonies and a snake for one of my oldest clients; they were my first client ever. When they requested me to create such an important piece for them, I was very honoured. I do really enjoy tattoos that have sentimental value, and their chest piece is one of my favourites to-date.

5. You’re based in Vancouver, Canada, what makes Vancouver’s tattoo scene unique?

Ahh, I think Vancouver is full of talented artists. When I started tattooing, there weren't too many fine line/single needle artists. I think my best friend and I were one of the first people in Vancouver to offer it. I see more and more artists offering single needlework now, and I'm definitely thrilled.

6. What has been the highlight of your career as a tattoo artist?

I was tattooing one of my clients, Mark, and he was Facetiming his wife to see what she thought about the placement -- I got to say hi to his wife, and she said hi back to me! And that was Kelly Ripa! How cool is that!

But yeah, the Vancouver tattoo scene is very lovely because we have some of the best Asian genre artists, traditional American artists and blackwork artists. So much variety!

7. What has been one of your biggest struggles?

Honestly, when I was starting up, the lack of support from my family and difficulty in my financial situation was my biggest struggle. Now, I'm just my own worst enemy; I'm extremely strict on myself when it comes to art, and sometimes that's difficult because I find myself never really satisfied with my own artworks. I feel like it can always be better, even though I'm not always sure how to achieve it at the moment.

8. What advice would you give to artists who aspire to be successful in the industry?

I feel like I really need advice on how to be successful in the industry, haha. I think you'll have to always strive to be better and always try to produce quality work. I now think that whatever I tattoo on my client, I should feel comfortable to put on my own body too -- kind of like, I would never tattoo something (quality-wise) that I wouldn't want on my own skin.

9. How is Zensa Numbing Cream beneficial to your work?

It helps tremendously! I have tattooed c-section scars, hands, neck, ribs -- generally sensitive areas, and it really helps my clients sit through long sessions. Now some of my clients come into the session already wrapped with Zensa without me telling them to do so.

10. What is the most painful tattoo that you have ever received?

I got a large sternum piece when I was 18. That was so painful, I remember at some point, everything just turned bright white.

11. What advice would you give to someone on selecting a tattoo that they’ll love forever - no regrets?

I think as long as you get a tattoo that's well-executed, beautiful to look at and has meaning, there will be less chance of having a second thought in the future, or simply growing out of it.

12. How important is tattoo after-care in the process of maintaining your tattoo?

I think after-care is just as much important, if not more important than the procedure itself. If you don't properly take care of it, your tattoo can become damaged, infected, and faded. A tattoo is an open wound with pigment underneath it, and you should treat it like a wound.

13. Let talk celebrities: What do you think about the single needlework on Miley Cyrus’s array of small, black and white tattoos?

Oh, I love them. I have a few single needle tattoos myself, and I definitely want more. I think it's so fun to have multiple single needle tattoos where each one has a special meaning to you.

14. I’ve seen that you do a lot of micro realism, pet tattoos for clients. How does the linework on Miley Cyrus’s sheepdog tribute tattoo vary from your own style?

I think that's the level of detail I aspire to achieve eventually. Miley's sheepdog tattoo was done by an artist that I look up to very much, and if I could get to that level, I'd be thrilled!!

15. Is there anything else you want to tell our readers?

I hope everyone stays safe in these crazy times!! Make sure to do your research prior to getting tattoos, and to follow proper after-care on your tattoo so they will stay as nice as new! I personally really enjoy using Zensa; not only for tattoos but also for laser tattoo removals as well!! I can't imagine my laser removal sessions without them!!

Back to All Entries