(Usually I start these posts with a single picture of the tattoo, but Kayla’s requires more than one photo to capture her full sleeve. Keep scrolling down to find the interview!)
Kayla came to us from a friend emailing her about the site and asking “why aren’t you already on this?”. (I’ve had some questions about it, and as much as I love randomly running into people, I’m lazy and I love it even more when y’all find me. Email in the upper-right over there.) We met up in Lincoln Park at a coffee shop owned by State Farm*.
CFT: That is an awesome tattoo.
Kayla: Thank you.
CFT: Tell me your Chicago flag tattoo story. What prompted that, why do you love the city so much that you devoted an arm to it?
Kayla: I know. Ok, so I was 19 when I got my skyline tattoo. I was just gonna get the skyline, then I was like, “No, I kinda want more. Maybe I want a half-sleeve.” I wasn’t covered like I am now. So then I went half-sleeve, and I was like “Nah, I kinda want more.” So I went full sleeve, and I got the flag because, I mean, I was born and raised in Chicago, so I needed more Chicago elements to put into my arm and it came out beautifully. I love it. I have many Chicago things on me.
CFT: So that was an evolution. Was it the same artist for the whole sleeve?
Kayla: Yes. The artist is Kyle Berg. He’s an amazing, amazing artist. He just opened up a shop 2 years ago. It’s called the Constable Tattoo Parlor. It’s out in Plainfield. Basically, honestly, after the skyline, I told him what I wanted—I didn’t give him a picture, just told him what I wanted and let him take complete control of the whole arm. I even had him sign it**. It became a masterpiece. It’s one of his biggest successes, and I’m in love with it. I get recognized all the time for it. So, I like it a lot.
CFT: So you were born here, raised here, what is it about the city—like, have you compared and contrast it, or do you just know?
Kayla: Well, I’ve always been a city girl, so I love the city. I hate it when people from the suburbs are like, all Chicagoan, when they haven’t really ever lived here. So I am born and raised in the city—I’m from the South side, moved up North, back to South side, back up North, now I’m back on the South side, so I’ve been all over this city. I’ve always worked downtown, I’ve always been in the city. I love Chicago. I’ve been to New York, been to Boston—not as great as Chicago. I always keep coming home. I never moved there, I would just travel there. And the people here are amazing, and the skyline—every time I see the skyline I fall in love. I just love being in this city. I want to move and start somewhere new, something fresh, but I can’t because I’m just so… I’ve met some of the greatest people here. Our buildings are attractive and so amazing, I just don’t want to leave.
CFT: I ask these questions, because I don’t disagree.
Kayla: It’s just… it’s beautiful. We have a beautiful city with a lot of attractions. I love showing tourists my arm, like “Oh where should we go?” “Oh, go here, here here!”
CFT: Are those your favorite places in Chicago?
Kayla: Yes, my 2 favorite places are Buckingham Fountain and Navy Pier, so I have multiple Navy Pier, and then the Art Institute is one of the most popular, the fireworks—I love going to see fireworks at Navy Pier. The train—I take the train every day of my life, and then the Chicago Theatre. I get baffled because a lot of people are like “Oh, I love your arm. What city is that?” And I’m like [confused, points at Chicago sign.] You don’t understand how much I get that.
CFT: Have people had bad guesses?
Kayla: Yeah, I get New York a lot. A lot.
Kayla: Because they just see the skyline and they’re like, “I guess New York is the only place with a skyline.” A lot of people are on the train and ask me what this is [points to El map on arm] and I just point to the sign. People are just amazed that it’s so colorful. I’ve had this 3 years now and I’ve never had it touched up or anything, so I stay pretty pale. But I’ve never gotten a bad response from it or anything. You can tell people who are kind of not into tattoos or stuff are just like [skeptical look], but since it’s done so well, I always get complimented all day. It’s nice, it’s a great feeling, because before, I had a couple of really bad tattoos, but now all my work’s from Kyle. I never wanted tattoos, I was just wanted to start here, but it’s addicting and now everyone recognizes my arm. We go to conventions and try to enter it for prizes. I haven’t won anything yet, which is sad, but we have one coming up next month which is in Tinley Park, so hopefully people will be like “Oh! Chicago, we’re in Chicago.”
It took about 48 hours. I did about 8 sessions of 6 hours I think? It’s a lot. I devoted my whole arm to Chicago. And I’ve seen Chicago sleeves, and there are not a lot that are done well. If you Google Chicago tattoos, I’m one of the first ones on there. It’s just a great feeling, because it gives you such a confidence that you never had before. People are just stopping you “let me see let me see.” Touching you. People you don’t know are just coming up to you to touch you. I’m used to it now. I like it.
CFT: What neighborhood do you live in?
Kayla: So I was born in Midway and grew up there and then when I was 18 moved to Roscoe Village, went home to Beverly, then moved out again to Logan Square—I just moved from Logan Square a couple weeks ago back to Midway, so I’ve been North, South, I work downtown, so I’m all over the city. I go to school right around the corner, so I know the whole city. I’m not a suburb kid, which is cool.
CFT: Anything I didn’t cover?
Kayla: I just want people to know—I love my shop. They’re my best friends and like family to me, so Kyle Berg at the Constable Tattoo Parlor in Plainfield, Illinois. All the artists there are amazing, Kyle did my sleeve. And I want everyone to go there.
* That has nothing to do with the interview, I just think it’s a weird idea.
** Kyle’s signature: