We talked with the owner of ‘Mosquito Costume’ in Guadalajara. A passionate Mexican artist who firmly believes in the value of marriage, family and friends.
Hello Kelly Rico, first of all, who was born first: Kelly Rico the “illustrator” or Kelly Rico the “tattoo artist”?
I have been working on my illustrations for 18 years or more and I have been tattooing since 2011 but I feel tattoo discipline was the real natural disaster in my life. It’s like the real thing that made me change my mindset and skillset structure.
If you have skills for drawing you must be fully in between the harmony of the draw and your tattoo production. If every day your draw skill grows you must have the same knowledge to build it again and again and again!
What was your primordial flame to be a creative mind?
To me the most important thing of being a producer is to be true with yourself. If you are looking for excellence you must break the chains that make you a slave of your own emotions. As a professional artist you must understand life is not about crafting art or thinking, the key is the discipline! And discipline is an art too, so you’ll break those chains with more than a dream.
Balance between who you really are and what you think.
The primordial flame must be to realize you are a privileged person and use the discipline like a tool to feel dignified about all the time you will spend on it.
Do you think you had any important teachers when you were taking your first steps in the world of tattoo art?
Sure. All my career was very hermetic in the industry so the real teachers were my family. Actually my wife was literally my producer since the beginning. She gave me the idea to became a tattooer but the most amazing thing is that she taught me what love is.
I mean love is to wish to be loved, and when you try to create something without something to offer, even a laugh is hard to get!
So I learned more than ever about believing and understanding what time and compromise is with her and used it like a powerful fuel. Also all my friends who gave me the chance to practice on their own body were amazing and priceless, so my teachers were and will be my own circle of loved ones.
Your tattoos and illustrations are so distinctive and rich of an “old-fashioned” charm that I’d like you to describe them to me.
As a human being with many strengths and weaknesses I always try not to hide my own mistakes in my production. I like to make my performance showing my virtues and my defects, so I like to emphasize this in my textures to give that feeling of medieval craft and raw composition where the sense and esthetic of human production looks very handmade and primitive.
I believe that trying to find a style and ideas is useless in the sense that it isn’t the determining element that makes “special” your production because art is all about repeating sounds and shapes with the key of recycling the good feelings and ideas of many brilliant people but making it in a new place, language and moment. So we can use the same idea all the time trying hard to find a way to give it the special spark to make it valuable.
That’s really interesting. Go ahead…
So I decided to stop using my time and mind to compete with ideas in order to focus on my technique and on the way I use my body; that changed everything in my performance because tattooers always compete with the same rules. It’s like playing a guitar without movement and expression!
All the time it is like trying to get the same vectorial lines to simulate a machine that makes no errors.
Over time I realized that this decision made me start from the scratch because my technique just follows my own rules with my own tools.
Now I don’t need too many things to work, I make less trash, I use both hands so my stamina is bigger and allows me to work for more hours than I used to, I work on dry so the skin appreciates it.
What do you think are the main influences that allowed you, once reworked by your art, to arrive at such a result?
I think it’s nature and reality. Now I always try to be the opposite of mechanic and digital results. I try to simulate the natural behavior of the components like ink and gravity, and that’s all about to make the feeling of medieval crafting and wildness, even if it’s just an object. The accidents, the organized chaos, the patterns and the abstract thoughts in artistic production are a very important influence for my production method.
If I name tarot cards or characters from Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ do you think they have anything to do with your creations?
I don’t think so because my work it’s all about nature, science and beauty. I’m not a religious person, and though I like and respect the graphic of Lewis, almost of all his art, like ‘Alice in Wonderland’ have a lot of theological allegories.
Actually Alice is an allegory to the Christian bible and I’m a hater of religion, but I don’t just hate the criminal cult and the dark history on it. I have a trauma about the cosmogony of torture and control from the holy church and their executors, since I was a child, so I don’t even play with this in my production; I’ve done a couple of tattoos with religious icons trying not to close that door completely but it is a bizarre thing to do for me.
Tell me about your private studio ‘Mosquito Costume’ in Guadalajara.
‘Mosquito Costume’ was my signature, at the beginning I signed my work with this nickname but over time I began feeling weird with it and I decided to pass the name on to the private studio. I started tattooing when I moved to Guadalajara in 2011 and at this point the spot didn’t have a real name until 2015 or 2016.
What kind of studio is it?
We are in a very calm and beautiful zone in Zapopan, it’s an apartment on the last floor of the building, we are just two artists in ‘Mosquito Costume’ (IG: @mosquito.costume), me and my friend Mars. She and I are very chill people so the mood of the studio is always very nice and calm, you spend the time chilling with jazz music or watching a movie waiting to start the session.
On average how long does it take between contacting you by email and proceeding with starting the tattoo?
Well my wife and I are the perfect team! So Angie is my assistant and manager and she knows perfectly all about my art so that makes very easy to get a quote, booking and everything. The first step is very easy and fast. Then the time you need to wait for your session can change depending on my tour agenda, I travel a lot so my clients maybe need to wait a couple of months to get the session, also when I travel to Europe and Canada, I fill my agenda with 2 or 3 sessions per day (more than 60 sessions at month ) that makes the time of waiting your session shorter.
Will you be leaving Mexico in the next few months to engage in guest spots around the world? Will you also be attending any prestigious conventions?
Yes I will , I’m going to Canada next January, I’ll visit Vancouver and Toronto then I will work a couple of months around Mexico. About conventions, I’m not very interested about it but maybe one day will happen.
And your last famous words are…?
If you are interested in excellence you must accept the ignorance, try to get the deep contemplation, don’t try to skip mistakes and don’t be slave of your emotions when you try to make art. Now I know I’m just the consequence and the fruit of many people who love me and understand me. All my success is the result of the care of my family and friends who have been doing everything they could to give me the time and space to achieve my dreams.
Follow ‘Mosquito Costume’ tattoo studio on Instagram: @mosquito.costume