Tat2X: How long have you been involved in the tattoo business?
Carl: I have been involved with tattooing for 13 years since 2001.
Tat2X: What made you decide to become a tattoo artist?
Carl: When I was younger I was studying Electrical and Electronic Engineering. As students, my brother King Afa and I were always broke. Our financial situation was pretty dire, to say the least. Looking back on our money worries now, I wish we could have found something similar to this article here that contains an overview of some of the best credit cards for students. I think a credit card would have massively helped us out. Anyway, we needed a way to make money to survive. My brother had a tattoo done in Tonga with a home-made Machine, so he had some kind of idea of how to make them. Toothbrush, sewing needles, motor from my electronic projects, and a piece of hanger to tie the needle onto with threads and away we started tattooing starting with ourselves.
Tat2X: How did you learn the art of tattooing? Did you apprentice?
Carl: I always wanted to make a living off art as I always loved the subject, however tattooing had never crossed my mind… I started tattooing friends of friends, and the word got out, so I decided to approach a studio in the city of Kuala Lumpur for an apprenticeship…Spec Ung took me in for a year before I migrated to the States.
Tat2X: Are there any artists tattoo or otherwise that you admire?
Tat2X: Has any individual in particular influenced your career?
Carl: Yes Filip Leu or Felix Leu (dad)… He made sure that the whole family were tattooists too.
Tat2X: What would you say is your favorite part of the job?
Carl: I really enjoy how far I have come in my career. Starting off as an apprentice, getting my first proper job, going out on my own, and now being able to see my tattoo shop in the local Auckland business listings – I love it! Another one of my favourite parts of the job is seeing people happy with the end product… they always make me love my job even more!
Tat2X: How would you describe your style?
Carl: I would call it Polynesian tattoo or tribal.
Tat2X: How do you feel about Western style tattoos?
Carl: I love western tattoos too, in fact I apply a lot of the western techniques to my work. I’m also slowly learning how to do western tattoos.
Tat2X: What’s the most unusual request for a tattoo design you’ve ever had?
Carl: I’ve had a lot of guys requesting to tattoo their genital parts but I just can’t go there, I wouldn’t wanna eat after that, girls are fine though, don’t mind.
Tat2X: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists tattoo or otherwise?
Carl: My advice is to follow your dream and work towards it, make every moment count. Don’t take your eyes off the target..give it everything …make sacrifices…
When I first started making money, I made sure I had the best machines and second was my Autoclave, not on smokes and Alcohol.
Tat2X: What kind of music do you like to listen to?
Carl: Depending on my mood, I listen to Easy Listening, Hip Hop, African, Funk, Reggae, RnB, Heavy Metal and also House.
Tat2X: What do you do to relax when you’re not at the studio?
Carl: When I’m not tattooing I’m at the Gym as I also do bodybuilding.
Tat2X: Is there anything else we should know about you or your studio?
Carl: At the moment I’m in the process of teaching my son Carl Junior III ( the 3rd).. To take over my job one day..I started him off with a lot of drawings..I wanna do what the Leu Family are doing and I’m also fighting to become a Pro Bodybuilder by Winning Mr. New Zealand one day.
About Tattoo Artist Carl Cocker:
To see more of Carl Cocker’s excellent work you can visit Kalia Tattoo or you can follow him on Facebook at Kalia Tattoo Ltd or on Twitter at @carl_cocker . You can also visit his tattoo studio in Auckland, New Zealand.