Congrats to our Artist of the Week: Corei Tha Guru!
Corei: Almost 7 years. Um, and really just, people asking me to draw tattoos all the time. I’ve been airbrushing for a long time. I’ve been airbrushing for 20 years.
Aaron: Which one do you like more?
Corei: Airbrushing, it’s more relaxing. This shit is stressful, haha. You gotta be right. I can’t take no plays off! I be tired. When I get done people be like “you wanna do another one??” Hell naw, I gotta recoup!
Aaron: What’s the hardest part of tattooing?
Corei: Probably the neck area. It’s real tough. It’s a funny kind of skin and people have that tendency to move their heads. It doesn’t bother a lot of people, but a lot of people don’t care what their work looks like either.
Aaron: What’s the easiest/best part of it?
Corei: Umm, anything flat, in a spot where you can kind of just draw like you would on paper – like this right here (side abdominal area of a female) is perfect. I’m chillin,’ she’s chillin’. It’s the best when people are just calm and chillin’ vs when you have a hype ass customer. I also like lettering. I don’t know what it is, but it’s popular. It’s popular for people to get words, names, and I don’t like to see the same lettering over and over again so I like to make up my own. It comes from t-shirts and airbrushing.
Aaron: What’s one aspect of your skill that you wish to get better at?
Corei: I’d have to say the business of it. I’m growing everyday with the ink. I read books and watch videos, do seminars, hit the conventions. I’m growing everyday. I try to network with other artists and see what everyone’s doing and try to stay current and keep my work looking good. I get consumed in that and never want to do the important things like the business side. It’s definitely a business side too, it’s not cut and dry, you have to know what’s up. I tried to buck the trend on the design to the whole industry. I wanted to do something to help other artists that were coming up and I didn’t do it the traditional way and it didn’t work because it’s designed the way it’s designed for a reason. They’ve been doing it for however many years and there’s a reason it’s been the same. Haha, and I come along and try to change it like it’s going to work. It was a good idea, but when things start going wrong you realize “ohhh this is why they do this. And this is why they do it like that.”
Aaron: Haha, kind of connecting the dots.
Corei: Yeah, exactly.
Aaron: What’s your motivation for tattooing? What do you take from it, personally, besides money? …unless that’s the reason, then it is what it is.
Corei: Right now I do it, honestly, because I have people who want tattoos and don’t want to go to anybody else. I don’t wanna be a jerk and say I don’t want to do tattoos, but I really want to airbrush. I’m getting ready to airbrush my truck and start advertising my airbrush, because I want to get back into that more. I kind of want to tone down on the tattoos a little bit. And that’s because there are a lot of people who aren’t artists doing tattoos, and they’re sort of killing the industry –with like $20 sleeves and what not. Even if you want to show people a deal, it’s so cheap now that they can go around the corner and get a whole sleeve for $30. And the work is garbage, and then you have me, where I care, but my discount is more than what they’re charging.
Aaron: What is some advice you have for aspiring artists?
Corei: Develop a style and hone it, and sharpen it, to where you can reproduce anything but it’ll still be your style. 80% of my work is freehand – I rarely ever use stencil.
Aaron: What do you think sets you apart, as far as your artwork, from other tattoo artists?
Corei: I thrive on clean work. When I was learning, I learned from Chris Crash at Suicide Kings, that’s all he ever talked about – line work. “Make sure your work is clean, gotta be clean, gotta be clean, gotta be clean.” So when people see my work, that’s what I hear the most. I hear “man that’s so clean, man that’s so clean, man you don’t see clean work like that.” I’m technical; I like things to be perfect. I study proportion and all of that. It’s like an obsession almost, I’m not going to lie, I’m obsessed with being sweet and clean. And with tattoos, this shit is permanent! I owe it to her (client in his chair at the moment), she trusts me to put this shit on her and I owe it to her to be as technical as I can, and make it as perfect as I can. I know cats out here that don’t give a f**k. I’ve heard them say “man f**k that, I’m not gonna be perfect every time.” They’re out here spelling shit wrong, scarring people, giving people Hepatitis, etc. They make me want to pull back into airbrushing. It’s a more relaxed industry.
Aaron: Well I have no further questions, anything else you’d like to add, any projects in the works or plugs you’d like to make?
Corei: I actually have a lettering book that has a lot of my artwork, a lot of different lettering styles – just a tattoo shop reference for other artists. I’m going to release it on June 1st. They can get it form me, or on the website. As well as Tony’s Tattoo Supplies in Lincoln Park, is going to carry them. And Kingpin! Me, Felle, and D.Coney… we out here. We have a project in the works and are going to try to put the city on their ear on this one. Y’all will see us out here, we’ll keep you posted!
Aaron: Well that’s enough for me, I appreciate it homie.
Corei: My man, no doubt.
For more on Corei, visit http://