Kona tattoo artist Che Pilago brings his clients’ stories to the surface
Art Business

Kona tattoo artist Che Pilago brings his clients’ stories to the surface

Tattoo by Che Pilago. (Che Pilago/Courtesy Photo) Che Pilago opened his tattoo shop in Kona, Ka’eo Hawaii, in 2014. (Emily Gleason/Special to West Hawaii Today) Che Pilago has been tattooing since he was a teenager. Around age 15, he started sneaking his dad’s tattoo equipment to work on friends when his parents were out camping for the weekend (don’t tell them). Che grew up watching his dad, Angel Pilago, and close relatives tattoo. His dad’s side of the family comes from a long line of tattoo artists who specialize in traditional Polynesian-style tattoo, or tatau. Self-employed as a tattoo artist since 2004, Che opened his tattoo shop in Kona, Ka’eo Hawaii, in 2014. People from different backgrounds travel from around the world and around the corner to sit in his chair. His skill and unique approach have gained him notoriety beyond the Hawaiian islands. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the International Polynesian Tattoo Award in 2014 for his backpiece of a giant hee, or squid. The piece was inspired by his client’s love of diving. ADVERTISING Che is known for his freehand tattoo style. He does not use computer-generated outlines and prefers to sketch out the […]

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