New York-based tattoo artist Evan Kim has helped pioneer the barely-there, fine line tattoo style by approaching his medium like a traditional art form. The way he sees it, the body is an ideal canvas and tattooing is a unique expression of both the person getting inked and the one administering it. “I like to draw in all art styles, so I just follow the material and try applying my own way,” he says. In a similar way, he uses style as an avenue for creative output — albeit a less temporary one — dressing in a way that combines his Korean roots with inspiration from the city and people around him. Catching up with Kim at Evan Tattoo in New York’s Koreatown, this becomes evident, as he polishes off his singular style with a bucket hat from PUMA.
Like any good story, Kim’s setting plays a starring role in his narrative, inspiring where he opened his tattoo shop as well as his creative output. It’s a pride he shares with locals and tourists alike. “I believe all states have their pride, but there’s a lot of symbols for New York — the city skyline, Empire State Building, apples, Statue of Liberty. People who live here or are traveling, they love New York,” he says. “They want to remember or they want to put some meaning through a tattoo to keep it going. They don’t need to match their style to New York, they can find a style of New York that matches them.”
“They don’t need to match their style to New York, they can find a style of New York that matches them.”
The sentiment applies to fashion, too. Trying on a variety of headwear from PUMA before deciding to wear a PUMA cap, Kim decides that if he had to pick a fashion item to represent New York, it would be a fitted cap — a universal piece that applies to pretty much every dressing style. “New Yorkers are able to mix things together really well,” he says. “It’s still specific, but there’s a lot of varieties mixing together.” He brings this ethos into Evan Tattoo, wearing an all-black outfit with wide pants, a cropped jacket made from technical fabric, a PUMA beanie and a pair of rounded sunglasses — an accessory he doesn’t leave home without. (“That’s kind of like my underwear,” he says.) The look is topped off with PUMA sneakers, giving a vibe that is a steady combination of New York with Korean influences. “I like the hanbok (Korean) style and traditional Korean clothing,” he says. “They’re kind of from the past. I want to wear them in a way that’s more modern, so I’ll wear some sneakers.”
In a way, tattooing is a collaboration between the artist and the client — a partnership that Kim has mastered with his impressive list of fans like Luka Sabbat, who’s gone to Kim for most of his tattoos, and Sarah Synder. “Good clients, they know what they like,” he says. “If they have a direction they want to go in, I [approach] that direction with more vision.” For Kim, a sense of conviction and self is equally important when getting dressed. Mixing elements of cozy and cool, as he does with elements from Korea and New York, Kim’s styling tips are more of an extension of his laidback personality than anything else. “With styling, it’s like finding what you like. Actually, I don’t throw out my clothes. I keep like ten years of clothing — that’s really vintage,” he says. “I always say to try keeping a piece for three years. If you don’t use it in three years, then maybe you can throw it out.”
“I always say to try keeping a piece for three years. If you don’t use it in three years, then maybe you can throw it out.”
Check out Evan Kim’s style as he traverses the New York City streets and subway before heading to his shop. Head to PUMA’s website to learn more about its line of accessories.