Saturday, May 29, 2010

Today marks the six year anniversary since I embarked on my Japanese tattoo adventure. Wow, time flies! A lot has changed since then. When I started, Shinji was working at the since shuttered 55 Tattoo studio on West 19th Street. After the last 4 1/2 successful years at New York Adorned (during which the fabulous Brooklyn location was opened), I'm very happy to say Shinji is now on the verge of owning his own private studio! Congratulations, Shinji - I'm so happy for you!

Let's break down some numbers:

  • 5 full years of tattooing
  • ~190 hours of tattoo time (that's about 1 2hr session every 3 weeks)
  • 2 book appearances and 2 magazine appearances (and featured in all sorts of Adorned material)
  • 1,000,000 bottles of ointments and creams

One number people are always asking about is money spent. I won't give a figure, but I will say that my initial estimate of 20K-30K turned out to be quite accurate.
Here's a shot of me after my first 2 hour session on 5/29/2004 from Ye Olde Blog archives, with the three tattoos I since covered up still visible:

This morning I was looking over my very first blog post, in which I wrote "To me this is a work about strength, perseverance and transformation." How did I do on those? Yes, I persevered. Am I stronger? Well, I guess I am more confident in my strengths after the aforementioned perseverance. Have I been transformed? Yes - but only to look at ;).

Some things I learned:

  • Don't consider undertaking such a tattoo unless time and money are no object.
  • Respect your tattoo artist and their craft.   Treat him or her like a professional and an artist.
  • Be ready for pointed questions and stares.  I can be aloof by nature so this is still a tough one for me.
  • Japanese tattoo was an entry point for me into the world of Japanese art and culture in general,  which has been tremendous.
  • There is a vibrant tattoo community out there which is worth exploring.  The artists can be fiercely competitive but I also sense a common bond and mutual respect/admiration among peers.  Those of us who enjoy receiving tattoos are in it for as many reasons as there are people, but at the end of the day the is an understanding through shared experience and art.

I'm not sure why I started blogging about this.  Hopefully this has provided some sort of useful information to someone out there and is not a worthless journey to the center of my ego.  There have been some great people that were connected to me via this blog, and for that, I'm thankful.

Now lets see if I can get this finished in the next year!


Cameron said...


I've been following your blog for a couple of years now, an let me just say congratulations on sticking with the tattoo. I've read that most never finish such an endeavor. You were part of the inspiration for me to seek out Shinji, so thank you!

It's exciting news to hear about a private studio! Do you have more info about it? I hope he contacts his clients, such as myself, with the new address and the such.



Mike Crash said...

Shinji is still at Adorned! Other people have mentioned this news to me so I assumed it was out there, hope I haven't let the cat out of the bag prematurely! All I know is this will happen at some point in the nearish future, and I'm sure he'll let everyone know when it is finalized. Even the location is not nailed down yet, as far as I know.

Anonymous said...

I've been following your blog since Meta Ken and you've encourage me to get a full japanese backpiece. I'd like to know what tattoo community you belong to as you mentioned in this blog. Hugs from Brazil


Mike Crash said...


Great to hear from you! Yes, Metaken was a long time ago. How is your tattoo coming?
When I say "tattoo community", I mean people who contact me through this blog, or go to tattoo conventions, or stop me on the street and point to my arms and say "Shinji right?". So you're part of the tattoo community :)

Mik said...

Wow 6 years. Congrats man. Anyway, I'd like to see whether you'll go for your legs after you finish your Hanzubon (short pants) body suit. My prediction, you'll go for it =)

Amongst your list in this post, i have to say the only thing that bothers me for being such a heavily tattooed guy is the "How much?" question. I really hate it when people ask me how much that i have spent for my tattoo. Especially the reaction that i got after i answer it. Normally, "Dude are you crazy for spending that much amount of money for tattoo. I wont spend that much money for my tattoo"

In my opinion, it's better to save up your money and spend it on the artist that you love rather than getting tattoo in some cheap places with low quality result. It's on your body forever, why would you want something cheap.

Things like that make me sad. So i couldn't agree more with you, if money is an issue..don't get a tattoo. Start saving, and get a tattoo after that.

Miyamoto Musashi said...

I can't put my finger on the exact dat or even how I ended up on your blog... But I can totally say that I am sure glad I found it.

I also got very inspired by your amazing oriental work and it pushed me forward into pushing my doubts aside and going for my own backpiece. Not to mention creating a blog to record the process!

Congratulations! I will continue to check out your munewari's progress and hope to see it finished soon!

Pluggin has been and will return to Japan said...

Happy anniversary! I have been following your blog on and off for a couple of years and thoroughly enjoy the artwork, writing and persistence. I've just looked back at your previous blog and can't believe how slowly hand tattooing takes!! No wonder you've hit 20-30K. But, on the bright side, you live locally :)

yoso tattoo said...

Thank you for sharing this! Very nice :) Enjoy! Y.

Tattooed Toff said...

Just taken a look for the first time at your blog. It looks terrific and your bodysuit is the tops. Do take a look at my blog at

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,

My backpiece is done and you can check some pictures at this site:

And thanks again for the encouregment. Your doing a wondefull masterpiece on your body!
Olival Barreto

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike

Thanks again for the encouregment and your doing a amazing work on your body.

My backpiece is done and you can check it at this site:

Olival Barreto