“Art does not belong to us. It is an honor to share my knowledge and skills if it can help others grow and learn.” – Orge Kalodimas
Orge Kalodomis has always had a fascination with religion from a young age. He was intrigued by the mysticism hidden in the symbolism of Buddhism as well as Hinduism. Growing up in Athens he would spend most of his summers between New York City and Greece. His father was from Sparta, and his mother, from the Bronx, both fast paced, creative melting pots. In his travels he began to discover an organic blend between religion, nature and Greek traditions. His creative perspective and view of the world took shape, and provided artistic building blocks for the years to follow and his apprenticeship in tattooing.
For many summers and holidays he helped his father at the family embroidery shop who taught him the craft as well as many life lessons, including, “you can have everything you want in life but you have to work for it.” — and that he did.
Orge continued to study his father’s craft for several years, and in 2005 he began his apprenticeship at Sake Tattoo Crew Studio in Athens, Greece.
During your apprenticeship with Sake what was the learning process like for you?
I was drawing all my life, self-taught, copying comic books or illustrative artworks. I was friends with Sake before tattooing, so in 2004 when he decided that he would open his own small shop, focusing on more “artistic” tattoos, I was eager to be his first student, apprentice, helper… you name it. My learning process was simple. Draw all day and ask a million questions, and then draw again… no secret tips here!
Seven years ago, on June 21st, Orge Kalodimas was driving to work and had a creative epiphany from a commentary on the radio about the summer solstice. The program mentioned that it was the longest day of the year, and it was the day that marked an eternal circle of the earth with the most hours of sunlight. This gave Orge an idea and a clear focus during his slowest time of the year at the shop. After arriving at the shop he made one of his first mandala designs. He felt some ignorance at the time uploading that design to Instagram and committing the next 184 days to designing a new mandala for every day of the summer solstice.
“I was so unaware of how much work this would be for the next six months. I didn’t even think about, or count the days and designs that I would have to draw.” – Orge
What qualities or adjectives best describe you as an individual?
Semper Fidelis. Raised by a Spartan father. I was taught to be loyal to your family, your teachers, the ones that helped you and stay true to your values and principles.
What actions or life events bring out the qualities or adjectives chosen above?
I still work in the first studio we started in Athens and in the first studio that helped me in NYC. The owners, Sake and Mike Nomy, are still my mentors and closest friends. I still live in the same neighborhood I grew up in, close to my parents, and I still visit Sparta, every two months to connect with my roots.
Did you have any obstacles or take any risks in life?
Tattooing was the biggest risk. I started before Instagram and social media in 2005, in a country that didn’t even see tattooing as a profession. We had to struggle a lot in the first years to make a living but we loved it so much that there was no question or looking back.
How did you handle those obstacles and how did they shape the person you are today?
I know it sounds cliché but everything can be achieved with hard work, persistence, patience and consistency. Money, followers or “fame” are just results and outcomes. People often focus on those outcomes and forget to fall in love with the everyday process.
What elements in art or life inspire your techniques and creative process? Do you engage in any specific routines?
I have a very strict morning routine. I wake up every morning at 5:30 am and spend my first 4 hours of the day, when my mind is at the most productive state, in total silence. I listen to binaural beats or other deep focusing music and resist checking my phone or social media for the first three hours. I start my day by journaling and externalize my thoughts and ideas. Then I organize my day by making the designs I have to tattoo, the photos I need to post on social media or just updating my Notion. I highly suggest this productivity app. If I don’t have any designs, I organize my Kindle highlights. As I said earlier, I listen to audio-books all day. I read or my mind is racing, so i need to arrange and file those thoughts or ideas. “A brain is a tool for thinking not remembering.” During the weekends or holidays, I mainly practice photography or painting. My “free time” is after work. I chill watching tutorials, workshops, documentaries or something really good on Netflix! Then I read every night to relax and go to sleep early.
“I don’t consider myself — just a tattoo artist but an artist or more like a craftsman. Tattooing is one way of expressing my artistic passion, painting and photography are the other two. So if you ask me what my job is, I will most likely give you this answer…
I don’t know, it depends on the day of the week or the time!”
What makes you genuine and brings you closer to an authentic you?
I am super smart!.hahaha. I love reading, since I was a kid, and now I have develop speed reading and speed listening (2x or 3x on Audio-books). I can complete at least 2 books per week. I never listen to music, so on my Air Pods its either an audio-book or a podcast. Oh and I love Scuba diving and underwater photography! There is something about being 60ft under water that takes me to my Zen state.
Where do you find your main inspiration for sacred geometry and unique patterns in your designs? I read a lot all my life. In 2011, I started reading about Buddhism and the eastern philosophy. This is when I became familiar with the art surrounding that amazing culture. My style is heavily based on the traditional Tibetan Nepali art and illustrated with a more organic feeling. Probably inspired for my love for nature, mountains and the ocean!
Looking back to your first tattoo and designs… What are some of your reflections and thoughts?
In the last 3 years, I started giving a speech to young people in universities here in Greece. The lecture title was “there is no talent” and my main objective was to show to the kids in a more illustrative way, a comparison of my latest work with my first mandalas. Another question that I get a lot of – is how to find your personal style. I tell my students. Come ask me again after you have created 1000 designs..
When I look back at my first design, I tell myself that I accomplished everything by repetition, hard work and reflections.
I use this process throughout my life for personal and professional growth in all my projects.
Moving forward what do you wish to accomplish in the industry as well as personal growth within yourself.
My next project is my YouTube channel that I will start in October, focusing on art tutorials and productivity hacks. I love teaching! Sometimes I wish I was a professor or something similar in the education field. As for personal growth. I want to finish a series of workshops I started before the lock-down on creative writing and also continue my scuba training. Do more Wim Hof breathing every morning and maybe focus more on my diet. Watch less news and maybe be a bit more social. Let’s say, go out for dinner once a month. My wife is also like me and we work almost all of the hours we are awake!
One last thing to say is to use the tools you have in your hand right now. The apps you use every day, to make the world small and your dreams big! I am a guy from the smallest country in Europe giving an interview for a magazine in U.S. Imagine that.
Keep the excuses out of your life, eliminate distractions and focus on being great. Or just wait till October and I will do my best to help you through my videos.
NAMASTE – Orge Kalodimas