For over 15 years, Kenni Poke has been a prominent figure within the tattoo industry, particularly in the black and gray category. He has won numerous awards and is recognized not only for winning but also sustaining his acclaim by taking 3rd place in the Black and Gray category at the InkBash Convention, the largest tattoo convention in Scandinavia, in 2022.
At the prestigious London Tattoo Convention, Kenni distinguished himself among 300 competitors by winning second place for the best of “Friday and Saturday” category.
In addition, he has also won first place in Best Nordic Artist, first place in Best of Show, first place in Best of Color, and first place in best New School Tattoo category twice at the prestigious Nordic Ink Convention.
These are all significant honors as these conventions are not only attended by the top tattoo artists in the world but are judged by the most acclaimed artists in the industry. As being one of the most recognizable tattoo artists in the industry, Kenni has also been asked to be a juror at the prestigious Aarhaus Convention (with over 250 top artists in the world participating), Prison Ink Tattoo Convention in Denmark, and HCA Ink Tattoo Convention (with over 100 tattoo artists participating).
Hi Kenni. People have always been curious about your stage name. Why do you go by Kenni Poké?
Thank you so much for your interest! Poké is actually a name that was “assigned” to me by my good childhood friend when we were little, so it has nothing to do with tattoos or food. We all had nicknames and why or how mine became Poké, no one can quite remember, it just always stuck with me.
How did you become a tattoo artist? Was it a long “journey” that brought you here, and did you meet any masters along the way?
Since I was very little, drawing has been my means of free expression and a way to find my personal space. At the age of 12, I became acquainted with graffiti. When I was young, I had difficulty finding my place in society, but creativity filled my everyday life, and at the age of 18, I became an apprentice with an old master, Hugo Tattoo. He trained me according to the “old school.” I attended a lot of conventions and met a lot of inspiring people, among them was Mads Thill. We have traveled, complemented each other, and developed our artistry together. In our industry, you constantly inspire each other, and it is important to keep up with all the new stuff but at the same time hold on to your own “thing.”
How would you describe your art style? And where do you think those eyeless female figures that frequently appear in your portfolio come from?
That’s a good question. My style has changed a lot over the years. I think it’s a natural process, just as we change as people. In the beginning, my style was more characterized by a childish expression with sharp colors and flow, but since I have gotten older, it was natural that my tattoo style also changed. Today, I would say that my style has become more timeless and mysterious. I enjoy creating female figures that embody both femininity and an enigmatic aura. They have a certain majesty about them and can convey so much.
Over the years, you have won numerous awards and have also been asked to judge at many prestigious conventions such as the Aarhaus Convention, Prison Ink Convention, and the HCA Tattoo Convention. Can you explain the challenges of judging top conventions?
I would say that it’s always a challenge to evaluate different styles. Art is an expression and a very individual thing. But as a judge, you will first and foremost look at whether the technical work is well-done. It is basically never something that can be discussed. Then comes the aesthetic expression, the placement in relation to the body’s shapes, the movement, and the contrast in the work. When the above things are in place, I always appreciate the personal expression in the work. I always lean on to answers from this question: Is there a personal touch, recognizability, and something unique present?
As an award-winning artist, you are sponsored by some of the top tattoo suppliers. Can you discuss some of the items and how they assist you?
Being sponsored allows me to test and work with the best products in the world. At the same time, I have a finger on the pulse in relation to what’s currently happening in the industry. Currently, I am collaborating with Cheyenne’s Sol Nova and utilizing needles from Nexus, a brand that I am also involved in developing and providing feedback for. I would say that the needles from Nexus are some of the best on the market right now, even though we are only in the start-up phase. All my aftercare products are sponsored by Bheppo, and my colors are sponsored by Extreme Ink. I feel extremely privileged to be offered a lot of sponsorships as well as invitations to various events and conventions while being able to do what I love so much.