Kelly has been drawing and creating art since he could pick up a pencil. Creating has always been a part of who he is, but it wasn’t until he joined the Marine Corps and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan in 1987 that he tattooed for the first time and realized what he really wanted to do with his artistic ability. When he came back to the states he started his first apprenticeship at a tattoo shop in southeast Texas. He quickly learned that not all shops are ran very well, and it was there that he realized how he would run a shop if he ever had the opportunity. In 1993, he and his wife moved to Missouri where he signed a contract for his second apprenticeship, this time under Miller Cotton, and this opportunity proved much more beneficial to Kelly and his career. This time he learned the importance of proper technique, customer relationship and how to have integrity in his business. After fulfilling his full contract, he bought Miller Cotton’s business and in 1994 he moved here to Tyler, Texas and opened shop in his current location. In 2000, he made it offical and named the shop “Kelly’s Tattoo”, and has been a proud owner ever since, specializing mostly in custom, freehand tattoos, but highly trained in all tattoo forms. Kelly likes to say that his favorite thing about being a tattoo artist is making his customers smile, and he has obviously been good at that over the years as his business has continued to grow! Kelly is married to his beautiful wife, Tyna, and they have 3 great kids. They share life and business together and both fully enjoy what they do.
Terilynn is 21 years old with a year and a half of experiencing tattooing. She did her apprenticeship under Kelly in 2019 and successfully completed the course in January of 2020.
She decided to make tattooing her career as a way to create for others and give clients pieces of art that they cherish for a lifetime. In addition to tattoing, Terilynn also completed her piercing apprenticeship under Tyna in December of 2020. With nearly a year of experience piercing total, she enjoys the duality of piercing and tattooing as well as being able to help clients on both sides of the industry.
Yuli is twenty-one years old and after being a client of Kelly’s, began to work as his apprentice. Since successfully completing her apprenticeship, Yuli is eager to gain clientele and give people art they love! She has always enjoyed any creative medium, especially painting with acrylics and sketching.
Yuli initially studied game development at TJC, but changed her major to the Art department. She has not stopped creating since! Transitioning from client to an artist has been bittersweet, yet very rewarding for Yuli!
Dear has been tattooing since September 2020 in Tyler. She graduated her apprenticeship in 2021. She is an award-winning artist with more than tattooing skils. She has been drawing since she was 4 years old, growing in her style as an artist for details. She has been ranked in the top 100 for portraits in all mediums in 2020 for her age division. Art has been a very important part of her life and has helped her in ways that she intends to help others. Her favorite art tattoo styles are fine line, portraits, traditional, black and grey realism, and color realism. Prior to joining Kelly’s team in May, 2023, Dear studied in Hawaii. While there, she learned Polynesian tribal and their culture for 18 months. Her goal is to be able to bring peoples personalities and stories to life on their skin, letting them express themselves freely.
Cody is Kelly Kirkland’s son, and has joined the Kelly’s Tattoo team as an apprentice and overall hand. He has grown up as an artist, with lots of exposure to the tattoo business. Kelly has always considered his team family, and his family a part of his team. We look forward to watching Cody become a professional artist.