What Inspires Kody Miller - Tattoo Artist

Posted by Marcea

(Images courtesy of Kody Miller)

Kody Miller has had a love for tattoos since he was a small child. Based in Kansas City, Missouri, Kody currently owns Hand and Dagger Tattoo where he and his team create a variety of tattoos for customers. Learn more about how Kody found out about tattoos, some interesting requests he’s received and how his OttLite helps him create this centuries-old form of art. 

When did you become interested in being a tattoo artist and how long have you been doing it? I originally took interest in becoming a tattoo artist when I was 3 years old.  My parents weren’t into tattoos but my uncle was a Vietnam Vet and he had a tattoo.  I was always drawing and I would draw on myself because I thought the way his tattoo looked was so cool.  Mine would wash off and his wouldn’t and I would ask my parents why. They explained what a tattoo was and I was just captivated by the concept. I told them that I wanted to do that when I got older and about 6 months later we were on vacation and they took me into a tattoo shop. It’s probably one of my earliest memories.  I remember it like it was yesterday and I’ve been hooked ever since. 

Where do you get your inspiration from? When dealing directly with the client, a lot of the inspiration will come based on what tattoo they want. (Sometimes) they’ll bring a picture but I notice that a lot of people want what they’ve already seen. So I’ll talk to them a little bit and find out what the reasoning is behind the tattoo they want. Then I’ll come up with different concepts for them based on that using different imageries that hold significant meanings and give them something as unique as possible.

How does someone train to become a tattoo artist? To be a tattoo artist you go through an apprenticeship. You compile as much artwork as you can and then you find a tattoo artist that you like the work of and start hanging out with them and getting tattooed by them and build a relationship. Then they’ll often times offer you an apprenticeship and they’ll teach you hands-on from there everything you need to know. There’s a lot of tradition that goes through tattooing.

What’s the strangest thing that someone has asked you to tattoo on them? I get strange requests all the time. One of my good friends asked me to tattoo a roll of toilet paper on his behind. That was pretty out there. I also started a transformation on a girl who wanted to transform her body into a white tiger. That was a little bit of a different experience, for sure. 

What the one tattoo you’ve done that you remember the most that made an impact on you? They all make quite an impact. I’ve tattooed a lot of family member portraits and the stories behind several of those really stick with you. I don’t think one necessarily stands out the most but that general concept of when people get those and their stories all stick with me. 

How do you feel when you see someone walking around with one of your tattoos? I love it! It’s something that bonds us together for the rest of our lives.  Seeing someone out in public who’s proud to show their tattoo that I did is very humbling and gives you a sense of pride.

How does OttLite help you when you’re working? When I first started tattooing I knew I needed a (lamp) that would light up my workspace more than the standard shop lights were doing. So I got an OttLite and it really gives me a true natural light. It’s an even light and lights up the workspace so I can see what I’m doing. It helps me be as precise as possible and put in the true tones, values and colors I need to make the tattoo as bold and vibrant as I possibly can. 

To find out more information about Kody and his shop Hand and Dagger Tattoo visit their website and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.






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