Good Guy Feature: Mitch Kirilo

Good Guy Feature: Mitch Kirilo

Posted by Jordan Stricker/@jaystrickz on 2024 May 15th

For many, tattoos are a way to express their individuality and tell a story. For Mitch Kirilo, they are a lifelong passion he has brought to life through decades of ups, downs and everything in between.

Luckily for fans of his work and the greater tattoo community, Mitch knew what he wanted to do from the age of seven.

Born and raised in and around Vancouver, he became infatuated with his father's prison-style tattoos when he was young.

"My dad had some really cool tattoos he did on himself in jail years ago," he said during a phone interview with Good Guy. "I always thought they were so cool. He had some dragons, some pinups and things like that."

As a youngster, he sketched the tattoos he saw on his father to try and replicate them. His adoration for the art was instantaneous. While other kids sold lemonade, Mitch and his brother set up a small tattoo booth where they would draw on their friends with pens.

"We were always watching that happen at some of my parents' friends' parties," he said. "There was always someone tattooing at these rowdy biker parties when I was young."

When he was 14, he got his first tattoo. It didn't take long after that to know what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.

"That pretty much sealed the deal," Mitch explained. "I said to myself, 'Yeah, this is awesome,' and it has consumed my life up to this point."

After what he calls a rocky start to his tattooing career, he was hired at his first shop when he was 17.

"It was this really sketchy shop behind Metrotown," Mitch said. "(the man who hired him) Was a nice enough guy that my brother had gotten a few tattoos from, he took me in."

He was scrubbing tubes, cleaning the shop and doing setups and teardowns, but that lasted only a short time.

"Things didn't work out for him at the shop, I guess. I can't even really remember the details, but he left. There was no one around to teach me," Mitch explained.

He then took it upon himself to dive into tattooing on his own. He grabbed a few machines his dad snagged from a pawn shop and was on his way.

"They were really cool old Spaulding and Rogers supreme frames that I still have to this day and tattoo with once in a while," he said. "I was so motivated to get into it after my time at that shop."

Six months at that shop kicked him into overdrive. While he had done a few tattoos before leaving, he knew he was ready to do more. Mitch started tattooing his friends in his basement, and ever since he made that decision, things started happening for him.

"I got back into a shop maybe a year later," he said. "That was always the goal. It wasn't ideal to be teaching myself in the early stages."

After bouncing around a few shops, he landed under the wing of Trent Pare at Eastside Tattoo in East Vancouver, just off Commercial Drive.

"He's been tattooing since the late 80s, worked at The Dutchman for years, so he had a lot of knowledge to share," Mitch said. "He's probably the sole reason I am where I am today. He took me back to square one and taught me everything."

After one year at Eastside, he moved into a busier walk-in shop, where he got the opportunity to tattoo all day, every day, something he needed to continue his growth as an artist.

Fast forward to now, he owns Pacific Rose Tattoo in Vancouver and constantly pumps out insane work that has garnered him quite the online following.

He'll tell you ever since he started, he has been inspired by Japanese-style tattooing. That inspiration remains to this day.

"I remember the first full back piece I ever saw in person. It was a huge dragon on some guy at the beach," he said. "He was kind enough to let me stare at it and chat with him about it. It was so impactful."

While it took him a little while to feel comfortable with the style, he has now become known for it.

"When I started in 2007, there was still a need for tattooers to be able to do anything, whatever walked in the door," Mitch explained. "That enabled me to try everything out. Slowly, I got to keep doing the things I prefer, which is a lot of Japanese-influenced stuff and a lot of surrealism."

His bold and heavy style, no matter what he tattoos, has packed his books with exciting projects. If you look at his work, you'll see why he has garnered such a following.

At the root of it all, Mitch still finds it inspiring to hear someone's idea, add his take and leave something that will live forever.

"Having the freedom to create and the trust from someone to do what I think is going to look good is such an inspiring feeling," he said. "It makes me want to put my best foot forward and live up to their standard as much as possible."

For the young artists taking the same strides he did in 2007, Mitch spoke to the importance of slowing down and taking baby steps.

"There were times when I bit off more than I could chew," he said. "It could be argued I learned a little bit more because of that. I do think had I kind of taken a breath and slowed the fuck down for a second, I would have started off tattooing better."

Pictured is Mitch's shop, Pacific Rose Tattoo, located in Vancouver.

He also stressed the importance of understanding and learning proper design and art techniques, something he wished he had done more in his younger years.

"That way, you're not making design mistakes in the tattoo," he said. "Maybe I could execute a tattoo relatively fine, but maybe there were some weird shadows that don't make sense in the design because I hadn't done enough studying."

Switching gears a little bit, we couldn't be more stoked to have Mitch representing Good Guy. He embodies the sort of artist we want to be connected with and who uses our products because his work is unique. When you see a Mitch Kirilo tattoo, you know it's his.

He decided to join us after being a long-time supporter.

"I used to use the cheapest stuff I could find," he said. "Immediately, I saw the difference in the quality of my work by using better supplies. I also think it is important to support a company that is a part of the community and not just some big corporation. You really feel the family values."

Mitch is especially a massive advocate for our textured needles.

"They are the only ones I tend to use anymore," he said. "The quality is just there, and you can tell they put a lot of thought and love into everything they make. I think that transcends into what I do. Knowing I'm using stuff made with care makes me want to care that much more."

If you're interested in linking up with Mitch for some work, contact him through his shop, Pacific Rose Tattoo, or on Instagram, where you can see his work and some of the machines he has been working on.