“Wearing an apron symbolizes labor and craft and I can identify with that. My dad was a super blue-collar dude and I grew up blue collar.” Says Kenny Cox. “I can vividly remember my Grandma wearing an apron. She raised me up and was always in the kitchen.”
Interview and Story by, Mary Ladd
Kenny Cox, 33, is a New Orleans native and a tattoo artist at Tattoo A Go Go, where the environment is warm and welcoming. This may be a welcome surprise for those thinking a tattoo shop can be an intimidating experience!
Kenny's smile and sense of humor comes through when he talks. Kenny first fell in love with tattooing in Florida while studying animation in college. Kenny works often and genuinely seems to love what he’s doing along with NOLA, which is both his home and muse.
Who taught you your skill? And does he wear an apron.
I was just a wild ass'ed teenager and my friend Ben Thomas insisted I get into tattooing, something he’d been doing for five years. He got me the equipment and got me going. Yes! He wears a bib apron with pockets at the very bottom.
How has your work changed over time?
I started off being into classic Americana traditional, but I have definitely evolved into a psychedelic style. I still love the classic and traditional iconic tattooing. I've just added another layer.
What themes do you pursue in tattoo artistry?
Every sort of outlet that you decide to spend time on is a potential influence. Tin toy books are an inspiration. Also psych filmmakers. Experiences, movies, and cartoons can inspire – anything that makes a good image. I also like occultism a lot and get into that. It has a lot to do with what I do.
What does wearing an apron mean to you?
It symbolizes labor and craft and I can identify with that. My dad was a super blue-collar dude and I grew up with a blue collar. I can vividly remember my Grandma wearing an apron. She raised me up and was always in the kitchen.
Do you always wear an apron when you work and why?
I definitely wear one. I also wear short shorts because it’s so fucking hot outside. I’m not allowed to wear them at work, but I get around it in the summer by wearing an apron. I’ve ruined most of my clothes so wearing an apron is beneficial. If I don’t wear one I tend to ruin all my clothes.
What is your favorite detail about your Holt McCall Tattoo Artist's Apron? Tell me about the fabric and why it works for your craft.
My favorite part is the chest, which is embroidered with my logo, which is a smile and a frown. I picked the colors.
In the world of tattoos, who is your hero and why?
Donn is my hero and boss. I’ve been working at the shop for almost five years. Outside of tattooing he’s really great and taught me how to be a full adult (laughs).
What’s your favorite tattoo tool and why?
Tattoo machines are my favorite.The act of tattooing is simple and intimate.
What do you do if it’s your day off and beautiful outside?
I’d probably go swimming and hang out with my girlfriend, Ali Mills. I also like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain.
How and why living in New Orleans influence your work?
I view New Orleans as the freest city in the nation . As a result, you can freak what you feel a little more.
If you weren’t a tattoo artist, what would you be?
Ali said I’d be a hoodlum (laughs).
I own a dim sum food truck called Electric Egg Roll. So at the moment in the realistic sense of things, I would focus fully on the food truck but that may not be my ideal alternative. Ideally, I’d like to be a painter because I wasn’t always into fine art but the older I get and the more my girlfriend shows me more of the art world, I am way more enamored by it. And yeah, being a painter would involve wearing an apron too!
Why do you think there seems to be a resurgence of local makers in America?
The country is fixated on nostalgia and I think people naturally found a way to monetize it.
Where do you get your inspiration?
For wonderment and excitement, I go outdoors and to art museums. I bounce a lot of things off my girlfriend who is also my business partner.
Who is your style icon and why?
Rich people are my style icon. I like the Ivy League, blue blood Americana thing.
Holt McCall designed aprons specific to your style of tattoo art. How did they get to that design and what is your favorite detail?
They took a look at the current apron that I used and found ways to make it better. It now covers more of my chest and is a little longer covering more of my legs.
The guys at Holt McCall did a great job!
How many tattoos do you have?
I have a considerable portion of my body covered. Alli would say it’s 75% covered.
What’s your daily routine at work?
I go in early because I like to listen to my own jams and prep. I’ve been listening to Om, this druggie stoner band that uses Hindu music cues. Tonight I’m playing yacht rock at the Ace Hotel, which is like 70s music.
I like to get my drawings together, set up my station and get ready for the first appointment of the day. That’s my practice.
What’s your dream work space?
I think I’m in it. My shop is pretty great. It’s a super family coordinated shop that is small. It’s crushed with a bunch of paintings. Any space like that would be great.