Saturday, December 10, 2011

Finally got my copy of the Bloodwork book. Wow! I'm blown away. The first surprise was when the two volume set was handed to me.  It's so damn heavy I almost dropped it on my foot.  I'd say about 30lbs of great tattoo pics.

Wonderful design on the cover, as you can see. The second surprise was when I opened the book - they used one of my pictures for the inside cover! Guess they liked it.
These books cover many different artists from all over the world, and the general format is a cover page with a portrait of the artist and a map showing their location, and then several pages devoted to each tattoo collector associated with that artist.  Each collector gets a smaller portrait, a fold-out three page spread with  a couple of views, as well as a few more pages devoted to more full-page views and several detail shots. These are all full body tattoos, hence the "Bodies" name.
My name is actually misspelled on my title page, but I'm not mad.  I was actually reconsidering giving my full name in the first place.  Problem solved! My bare ass is all over the damn place, is it wrong to hope for a modicum of anonymity?
Here's my three-page foldout.  Trying to suck in my gut. ;)
Another view of my back, and some detail shots.
I don't want to share photos of the other artwork, but trust me, there is plenty of tremendous artwork showcased in these two books.  This is absolutely the best tattoo book I own as far as quality of subjects, pictures, and overall design and packaging.  If you're an appreciator of tattoo art like me, do yourself a favor and check out this book. I'm honored to be a part of it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Here are a couple of pics of my right wrist.  As you can see, we started to color it in.  Green! Quite pleased so far (as usual).

Regulars may remember that some time ago I was photographed for the "Bloodwork: Bodies" tattoo book.  Well it's finally out! For full details, check out the website here.  Looks like this is an amazing book.  The photographers took their time doing tons of shots to put together a panoramic view, which seems to be one of the trademarks of this series. Can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Did an amazing photo shoot last night.  Japanese-themed thing for a well-known magazine featuring beautiful famous people..and me. Will definitely post a photo when the magazine comes out in a few months. This weekend I have a tattoo session, will be posting new photos of that very soon.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Starting the color on the dragon on my right arm.  Interesting to see the tebori at work on a smaller scale piece. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Outlines of both dragons are done. My right arm is still healing, but I think you get the idea.  Now comes the shading!
Forearms /  Outside

Wrists  / Inside

Sunday, September 04, 2011

And...Blogger just forced an upgrade to my template and hosed my whole layout. Sorry, I'll try to get that sorted soon..
So now that the primary munewari tattoo shape has been completed, what next?

Well, if you are an admirer of Japanese tattoo, you may have noticed there are several common forms of tattoo that appear outside the edges of a munewari or other large tattoo shape.  I don't know if there is a proper term for this class of items, but I've always thought of them as sort of "finishing touches" that mark the completion of the tattoo.  Visually, they are similar to a gate or border around the edges of the tattoo. I've always made a connection to the edges of protective seals used in the occult, like the outside of this fanciful seal from John Dee (notice the similarity to mandala!).

For me tattoos have always shared something in their essence with talismans.  But that's just me.  For everyone else, perhaps these are just interesting things to get tattooed once you're done with a big project but hungry for more ink.  Let's look at some different types. Images are taken from "1000 Japanese Tattoos, Shisei Zekka Soran Vol. 1", sorry about the terrible quality.

Juzu, or prayer beads, are probably the most common type I see.  These are used by Buddhists and Hindus to keep track while chanting or reciting mantras, etc.  I suppose a rosary would be the Western equivalent.  There are many types, from ornate to plain, and are usually made of wood.

Note the juzu at the end of the half sleeve

Another popular choice would a few kanji (Chinese characters used in Japan). I've also seen bonji, a script used to write Sanskrit (typically a mantra or sutra).

Please don't let this say "BAD MOTHERFUCKER"

And yet another option I've seen, but less frequently, is a dragon.
Small drag and juzu

In speaking with Shinji I discovered he saw the overall shape/effect of my tattoo as being akin to a temple.  Seen in this light, the outer edge is similar to the temple gate.  I was pleased that his view was quite similar to my own.  In keeping with the "gate" theme, we selected two dragons.
For those of you not familiar with the layout of a Buddhist temple, a refresher - at the temple gate in Japan, as well as in China and in Korea, typically stand two fierce looking guards.  In Japan these are known as "Nio."

These figures are the protectors of the temple, and are a complementary pair. The open-mouth figure is called “Agyō,” who is uttering the sound “ah.". His close-mouth partner is called “Ungyō,” who sounds “un” or “om." These sounds represent the first and the last, similar to the Western alpha and omega. This formula is the same as utilized to form the Sanskrit sacred words "AHAM" or "OM". Check out this site or Wikipedia more info on the Nio.
You'll notice in temples that Ungyō is on the left and the Agyō on the right. You may also see temples with komainu or "lion dogs" in front - at times these may be in a mouth-open/mouth-closed pair, alluding to the same symbolism.
Shinji has already outlined on dragon on my left arm, and will outline the other dragon on my right arm this evening.  Next post should be in a few days and will be pictures of the new work. I just thought it would be helpful to explain the symbolism first.  Of course, you could ignore all this and say "Oh a dragon, that's some pretty standard Asian-type tattoo to get."  I'm quite certain that's what most people will do. Besides, I'll be pretty tired of explaining this whole thing soon anyway.  Take care!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Kintaro - Feminine?

In the past month I've noticed two pretty young ladies sporting Kintaro tattoos. Does that strike anyone else as rather odd?
Kintaro, a semi-mythical character supposedly based on a real fellow by the name of Sakata Kintoki, is the quintessential Japanese masculine figure. He his known for his great strength, and his legendary exploits in battles alongside Minamoto no Yorimitsu. In Japan, it is a common custom to decorate a young boy's room with images of Kintaro, in the hopes they will one day be a strong young man.
I cannot deny that perhaps there is a certain "cuteness" to Kintaro. The Kintaro image, especially in a childlike rendering, denotes a certain gentleness. It is this combination of strength and kindness which drew me to the imagary.
Mapping mythological figures across cultures is always difficult, and I'm not a mythologist by a long shot. But the first distinctly American figure that comes to mind when trying to find a cross-cultural analogy to Kintaro is Paul Bunyan. As you may know, Paul Bunyan is a mythological lumberjack who entered American folklore in the mid to late 19th century.
From Wikipedia:
One legend says that at the mouth of the river in the Two Mountains area near Saint-Eustache, Quebec, loggers stormed into battle against the British, among them a fierce and bearded giant named Paul Bonjean, monikered as "Bonyenne"....Defender of the people, the popular hero's legends moved up-river from shanty ("chantier" in French) to shanty.
Later iterations of this story coupled Paul Bunyan with his trusty giant blue ox sidekick, Babe, a similarity to Kintaro and his fondness for playing with animals. Legends of Bunyan often feature outlandish feats of childhood strength, much like Kintaro's most famous tale in which he wrestles a giant koi. In this picture Paul is carrying an axe - another symbol long associated with Kintaro.
So again I ask - given the cultural significance, is Kintaro an appropriate image from a woman, or has this bit of Japanese folklore been taken out of it's context? I'm leaning towards the later, but I'm always open to other explanations and opinions.

Monday, July 11, 2011

For you enthusiasts of Horitoshi family artists, Toshihide will be working out of local shop Invisible NYC for two weeks starting on July 20th. Contact info for the shop is here. Give'em a shout for more info on availability! Here are a few pics of his work:

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Sorry for the mediocre pics and the poorly tied fundoshi! That's all I got.

this koi was the last bit, mostly white on the fins and some color on the head

The camera when off here by accident, but it's better detail then the other front facing pics..

Painting in the background by my wife..

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Big news - I just completed my munewari tattoo on Sunday night! After 7 years, wow.  Of course, I still have a few things planned; but this is a big milestone for me.  Pics soon.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Hiya Folks,
Been a busy month for me, but here's the down and dirty:
The tattoo is progressing nicely. We spent one session filling in some leaves orange on my forearm and my tricep.  Wow, a little bit of color on my arm changes everything!

We also worked on the koi on my torso some more, filling it in with more black and gray. Next time, we'll put some color in there.
I stopped by the NYC Tattoo convention a few weeks ago, and actually had a better time than I expected.  I got to chat with Mike McCabe about his "Tattoos of Indochina" book. He signed my copy afterwards.  Nice dude!
Signed, you can have my copy for $1,000,000 USD
Oh, and here's a related article that came up today on the Needles and Sins blog about an effort in Thailand to crack down on religious tattoo tourism. Interesting stuff.
Speaking of Needles and Sins, while at the convention I finally got a chance to meet Marisa Kakoulas. She's the primary contributor / blog queen round those parts of the web. It was nice to harass her in person instead of just on Twitter for a change. (follower her here and while you're at it, follow me too here.)
Shinji was hanging around the convention despite the lack of an offical New York Adorned presence, and he was nice enough to introduce me to Bill and Junii of Diamond Club Tattoo Studio in San Fran. Good people!
That's Junii on the right, sporting a Horitoshi suit! Pic is not mine, pulled from flickr
I spent most of the convention sitting at the bar, people watching.  Pretty damn entertain stuff.  Till next time!

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Last session we started to fill in the koi on my left torso.  I think at the next session we'll be able to finish the black entirely (not just in the koi, but the entire tattoo). Apologies for the rather blurry pic, I'm short on time this AM. We just hit around the 200 hour mark by my not-very-precise count, for those wondering how long this takes.
I also thought I'd share a pic of my lovely fiancé and a gentleman who stopped by her bar a few weeks back. Facial tattoos....yup.
Oh, and here's a link to an interesting blog I happened upon recently. It follows the progress of a back piece by Yokohama Horiken and features great photography.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

During my last session we went and filled in everything waiting for some red ink.  That meant mostly work on my arm, and some on my torso.
We're getting very close to completion now! Shinji and I are already talking about next steps, and have a few ideas we're considering.  Nothing huge, more like finishing touches.
It's difficult to imagine what it's be like when we reach that final day, we've been working on this project for so long that semi-regular tattoo sessions just seem like a part of my life.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sorry for the lack of updates, I just moved to a new apartment and the last month has been crazy.  I've got an appointment later today, and we're finally starting some color on my left arm, so that's pretty exciting.  During my last appointment we got the whole koi filled in, an olive green with some orange and red highlights on the head.  Looking pretty good!

Sorry, I whined a little about my busy month, when that's nothing compared to the last few weeks in Japan. My thoughts are with them.  If you feel so inclined, you can make donations here via the Japan Society, an organization I'm a member of and trust.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Well, it's been a long time, but I finally have some progress to report! As soon as I heard Shinji was back in town, I setup an appointment.  That was 2 weeks ago, and I have another scheduled for tomorrow.  Here are a few shots of the recent work, you'll note we started to fill in the koi on my left arm.  The plan is to color it similarly to the one on my right torso - primarily black and highlighted with color around the edges and on the head.
Shinji is scheduled to be working out of Adorned soon and accepting new clients, for those of you looking to get in touch with him.  I believe he said they were planning some renovations, and he'll start as soon as that is completed.  I'm sure the shop can fill you in on the details if you give'em a call.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Shinji back in the States!

Got a call from Shinji yesterday, and he's back in the States! I'm very excited to start working on my tattoo again after waiting for months for his visa situation to get sorted. Whoop! Expect more updates soon.