I’VE BEEN FASCINATED BY JAPANESE TRADITIONAL TATTOOING SINCE COMING ACROSS IT IN MY TEENAGE YEARS

I started my journey in tattooing about 20 years ago and have been completely dedicated to the Japanese style for over 15 years. I spent six of those years working at New wave tattoo where I was mentored by Lal Hardy. 7 years ago I decided to open up my own private studio. I always felt this was the best way to create an environment conducive to large scale tattooing which is what I mainly specialise in.

My work has a very bold, clean and essential feel to it. I want the tattoos to look timeless and be easily readable. Most importantly I want them to look just as good 20 years down the line. I am obsessed by the idea of craftsmanship (and I hope this shows in the quality of the finish in my work) and I think that that’s another factor that cemented my interest in Japanese culture. I take this craft seriously and have been lucky enough to have many equally dedicated customers. Each piece is created especially for each client and drawn directly onto the skin without stencils to ensure a perfect fit.

Although self-taught, I have spent the last two decades extensively researching the subject. My passion for travel has taken me to Japan many times and I still try to visit at least once a year. It was actually through travel that I started tattooing. It was a serendipitous encounter on a beach with someone who owned a tattoo machine. I was instantly hooked by the mystery of putting ink into skin.

Initially, I was happy to tattoo any design and I still hold a lot of love for tattooing in general but eventually, my obsession with Japanese culture which had developed through my teenage years took me towards the world of Horimono. The first time I encountered that world was through Japanese cinema and eventually I came across books on the subject. I am an avid collector of books and I truly believe that although there is a lot of information to be found online, much of it is recycled and often misquoted.

A lot of my consultation time with clients is spent looking at original reference material in Japanese books that are practically impossible to find outside of Japan. This reference is what creates the basis for the project. It’s a great pleasure for me to find and collect this reference material and share it with my clients. There is still some mystery leftover in this craft and part of it is searching for rare books in dusty Japanese bookshops hidden away in a little Tokyo alley.

Travelling to Japan has allowed me to develop relationships with many Japanese tattooists and that has been key to developing my understanding of the craft. Although I am not Japanese, I have immersed myself in this aspect of Japanese culture with seriousness and dedication and I hope to be contributing something to keeping this craft alive and spreading awareness of it. It is an often maligned lifestyle choice but that’s largely due to the way in which it has been associated with the Japanese underworld through its depiction in cheap Yakuza films from the 60’s and 70’s. Ultimately that connection does exist but it is only a small part of the Horimono story.