If you’re a resident of Kurtistown: What’s up? How’s it going? It’s so good to see you again. If you’re not a resident and that greeting holds no significance to you, let me introduce Kurtistown’s mayor, Kurtis Conner. Not only are we huge fans of the burgeoning comedian and content creator, but we’re also openly obsessed with Kurtis Conner’s tattoos, a collection that’s over 50 pieces and still growing.
Although it took Conner a couple of years to find his footing as a long-form content creator after the demise of the short-form video platform Vine (RIP, so iconic), where he first made a name for himself, he’s officially found it. Famous for his irreverent reaction videos, he’s not just funny but moreso incredibly clever—which is perhaps why he’s gained over 1.7 million new subscribers in just over a year.
Of the many ways Conner interacts with his fans, the one we’re most interested in is through the lens of tattoo. Whether he’s roasting their terrible pieces or vowing to get a design in exchange for retweets, tattoos are core to Conner’s brand. He even spent some time working in (temporary) tattoos—as the Head of Video at Inkbox—before ultimately pursuing his content creation career full-time.
In an example of all things coming full circle, you can now snag Kurtis Conner’s tattoos for yourself thanks to his just-dropped design collaboration with Inkbox. Ahead of today’s launch, we chatted with him about his offbeat, hilarious, and pretty damn impressive collection of permanent ink. (We even snagged a few bonus details about his tattoos that you may have never heard before.)
On his First Time: “My very first tattoo was an orca whale on my forearm. Free Willy is my favorite movie and when we were kids, my sister and I used to watch it all the time at our grandparent’s house, so it was a nice sentimental thing to get. It’s really big for a first tattoo, but I wasn’t nervous to get it because I went with my sister—we got matching ones—and she already had three or four pieces. I think I was 19 when I got it. Pain-wise, it hurt, but it wasn’t that bad. I feel like forearm tattoos don’t hurt that much in general so it’s definitely a good first spot in terms of pain.
Growing up I always thought tattoos were cool, but I never really saw myself getting any, and when I got this one I thought that was the only piece I was ever going to get. But now I think I have around fifty.”
On getting tattoos with his girlfriend Jenna: “We did this cute thing for our anniversary last year where we picked tattoos for each other to get, but we didn’t know what the other person chose until the tattoos were done. Jenna chose two wine glasses for me and for her I picked two green onions, because we like cooking together and we love green onions.
We also have several matching tattoos. When we went to Paris we saw this poster on the street that said ‘le monde est une poésie’ with a bunch of flowers around it, so we got that tattooed. We also have matching heart tattoos that say ‘ILYSB’ which is one of our favorite songs. After our trip to Italy this summer we got matching tomatoes on a vine that say ‘cinque’ underneath—cinque means five in Italian but we would just say it for everything, like instead of saying cheers we would say cinque. And we got $10 tattoos that say ‘Vegas’ when we were in Vegas.
We’ve also tattooed each other. Jenna did a stick and poke on me in her apartment when we first started hanging out. And earlier this year we gave each other heart tattoos. Our tattoo artist friend, Scott [Borkowski] quickly explained how to do it and Jenna was really good at it. She gave me a nice tattoo, but the whole time I doing hers I was shaking, so the tattoo she got was not very good. It was a fun experience but it was pretty scary and it was very hard to do. It made me appreciate tattoo artists even more than I already did though, because I don’t know how they can make anything look good.”
On his most questionable tattoo: “In Vegas I got this little bomb tattoo for $20, which is not very good. I don’t regret it though, because I think it’s a nice story, but I wish I would have put it somewhere else because it’s right next to my plane tattoo. The two tattoos aren’t related at all but I definitely don’t want an airport security person to see it.”
On fans copying his designs: “A lot of people have copied my designs over the years. It happens, but I always find it weird when they send me pictures of it thinking I’ll be stoked. In reality it makes me upset. Like, one of my favorite tattoos is my forearm piece: it’s four arms on my forearm by Jennifer Lawes. I was so hyped to get it and then around a month later someone got the exact same thing. It sucks because I came up with this joke and got one of my favorite artists to design this tattoo for me and then someone stole the joke and the tattoo.
Plus, I think it’s weird that any tattooer would copy another artist’s work. If you show a good tattoo artist a picture of a tattoo you want from another artist, they should at least change it. I get inspiration from seeing other people’s tattoos, too, but you should make it your own. So sometimes when people send me photos of tattoos they’ve copied I tell them that I don’t like that and explain why. Usually then they get upset because they didn’t know any better and now this tattoo is on them forever, so it’s a messy situation.”
On finding meaning in meaningless tattoos: “Even the tattoos that are sort of meaningless have a lot of meaning to me because of the experience of getting them and who I was with. Like, I have a tattoo of a skeleton dabbing and it was one of the first pieces Scott ever did on me. He had just started tattooing and needed people to practice on, so I went and we had a great time and I got to support the homie.”
On his favorite tattoos and tattoo artists: “I feel like my favorite tattoo changes every day, but I do really like the alien on my left arm. I thought about that piece for a long time and I got a Jennifer Lawes to do it. She’s incredible and is the nicest person. I also got one this summer, from Sean from Texas who’s one of my favorite tattoo artists. So even just the fact that I got a tattoo from him was very cool. If I were to redo my tattoos, I feel like I would want a whole arm of just his stuff. And I love all my pieces from Scott. He’s great. He’s a good boy.”
On advice for people interested in getting tattooed: “Think of things that you like, and that you’re passionate about, and that make you happy. Then try to find a simple way to illustrate that. I feel like a lot of people try to make their first tattoo too complex. They want to get everything they love in one piece, but I think it’s better to get something simple. I also think it’s different for everyone, though. I guess I’d just say: don’t think too much about it, but don’t think too little about it. Think just the right amount about it.”
Want in on his style? You can shop Kurtis Conner’s entire Inkbox collection here.
If you liked our post Kurtis Conner’s Tattoos: His First, Favorite, and Most Questionable Pieces, make sure to check out our profile of artist Curt Montgomery.