Artistry in ink: new tattooist makes his mark on Croydon

Croydon tattoo artist Kris Wlodarsi at work

The decision to have a tattoo can bring on sweat and tears before anything is touched with the needle. It is a permanent fixture, so it must be perfect. Now Croydon residents can breath a little easier as someone greatly skilled in both conventional and body art has opened a new tattoo studio in east Croydon.

Kali, also known as Kris Wlodarski, 34, from Poland has owned numerous tattoo studios. Having tattooed his way across the globe including Portugal, Amsterdam and London he has now decided to set up stall in Croydon. His new venture ‘Never Say Die’ opened at the beginning of January and the tattoo guns have been buzzing ever since.

Kali is passionate about tattoos. He said: “A tattoo can be an expression of individuality-how you feel about yourself.”

He first became interested in tattoo design when he was 16 when his friends would ask him to design their tattoos. His passion and pioneering spirit grew. He describes how, as a teenager, he made a homemade tattoo gun: “I used the motor from a walkman and a sharpened guitar string.”

With a smile he recalls how his device was “disastrous”.

“It sounded like a good idea at the time…but it looked like it was done with a fork. I’m saying this as a warning to others, kids don’t try this at home.”

But the experience motivated him to speak to tattoo artists and learn about the practice.

Eighteen years later, Kali has established a strong client-base who came to him for his attentive, free-hand style. He said: “I am happy to replicate celebrity tattoos but to be honest I love coming up with my own designs. My favourite styles are biomechanical, realistic and surrealistic”. You may have an outline idea for a skull, rose or a snake and Kali will happily design a unique, custom-made tattoo to suit.

Kali has respected credentials in fine art too. He has exhibited at ‘The Others- Art Ensemble group show’ in Paris, ‘New Media, Sex, and Culture in the 21st Century’ in Detroit, the ‘Resistance Gallery’ in Switzerland and many others.

He also holds a MA in Philosophy from the University of Zielona Gora, Poland and is currently studying a BA in Fine Art at Croydon College. He plans to get an MA in Fine Art as well.

He makes no bones about the fact that his artwork is dark and that he likes to create “an evil twist”. For the viewer this can be utterly gripping. He explores depths of the imagination, which can be seen in both his fine artwork and tattoos.

Many of his works contain obscured or disrupted faces, creating a sinister world where expression is prevented and hindered.

He tells how they can hold secret meanings. In prisons tattoos broadcast succinct messages- a spider web on the elbow describes how the person is part of a gang: barbed wire tattooed across the forehead signifies life imprisonment. But Kali will always tell customers what the tattoo represents.

Kali’s understanding of the significance a tattoo can hold and his artistic craftsmanship makes him the top tattoo artist in town. For more information visit the ‘Never Say Die’ website




  1. Gen Filarecki February 27, 2012
  2. Jenni April 6, 2012

Leave a Reply