These photo sessions started with the informal mood I like to put the “models” on ease. Mr. M was a former client of my shop Tattoo-Church back in Tokyo. We clicked together after several of his visits, and I had the idea of taking some of these photos
Clearly, his hair style stands out from the average Japanese crowd. Still a country so crusted with formalities, that the alone does not stand apart from being alone.
So, we started the “hair style project”. An informal way of pointing out that people do judge others by the look.
And I had to confess, so do I. As I wrote above, we clicked together after several of his visits.
My very first impressions were not so friendly to begging of. I think I’m just a crook bastard sometimes.. yes, please don’t judge
The world spins around
and sometimes we do end where we started
Footprints and marks are left untouched
in the heart’s memory book
Fresh and not rust, it comes out
nor as a ghost of the howling past
It’s just a shadow with wings
flying around our heads
Like bats that mirrors
the dark side of the moon
Walk past through the tunnels
the very one’s of doom
Like the last Meet & Greet post, is always a great pleasure to see old friends again.
Thorsten had being in touch and had gotten few tattoos by me through the time.
I had the honor to add one more piece, that is more than one piece itself.
Ribs are a truly painful spot. Do not attempt if you fear harm.
These photos were taken in December of 2010.
Strangely, this photos came out a bit “darker” than the previous one’s. Not because of her dyed hair, make-up or dark clothes and dark background…
I mean dark as they were predicting what would happen few months later on March 2011.
All the knitting girls went back to their homeland. A vacuum were formed not just in my shop back them, but in the entire country.
By no means I’m saying that this photos bring me bad/ sad memories.
I’m just saying that photos are a such powerful tool sometimes. Recalling memories. Bringing back origins and re-questioning why tattoos…
Now, emotions are putted aside and we can recollect the facts occurred.
Because we are human beings.
Tattoos states that. We are human beings.
And tattoos are a light, brightening our path. With hopes that we will knot these ends again.
Did I mentioned that I love photography? I mean, not exactly photography as an artistic genre. But I love to take photos. As I mentioned in a early post, photography is by no means a minor thing for me.
I might not be good as I wish, but say that photos are an a extension of my art.
Perhaps, the last recall of my memories. To bring back the origins of my tattoos.
I met Kate in my former shop Tattoo-Church in Tokyo.
She just waved by, and firstly choose a discrete small tattoo inside her arm. It was an Andy Warhol inspired painting.
It was a strange design of people jumping from buildings titled “Suicide” (a silkscreen made by the man, dated in 1963)
From them on she added more to her collection, and at the same time introduced me to a “gang” of expat girls living in Tokyo.
They would come, get tattooed, chit chat girls talk on Mondays at the shop. Guess Mondays were their day off or something.
Funny was not the girl’s talk, that i guess guys are also curious to know what woman gossip between them. Well, say that they just say what we guess what they say…
But funny for me was the situation itself. The other girls waiting for their turn or just there to give some “spiritual help” to the one laying on the bench, would be for example knitting while waiting.
They had those “waves” and “booms” from time to time, and one of these were knitting.
I mean, who da hell gonna knit in a tattoo shop? Guess not even in a hospital I had seen woman knitting (read old one’s) while waiting for their turn…
Even strange as it sounds, in other way you can take it as how laid back was the atmosphere in the shop.
We had our common trust, so they were free to feel home.
Be it knitting, drinking coffee or just waving by for a chat.
So, I have good memories of those Mondays. It reminds me the warmness of a knit sweater, even if I don’t have one…
The photos above were took in 2009, and are from a self published book. I will write about this book in a future post. Other photos I took of Kate later, will be posted tomorrow.
Perhaps you can knit while waiting
Basically I gonna re-write or translate my previous Japanese post. Discussing what would be the difference between “Tattoo artist” and “tattooist”. My personal goal is to be labeled (?) as “Tattoo artist”.
At least in my book, tattoos are a extension of my art expression. Yes, it is the “main” expression per se, but I do also have interests in other fields as well.
One big example is photography.
I became interested in photography thanks to tattooing. When one’s finish the piece, next step is to document its work.
And photos are the ultimate way of recording the work, and consequently using it as a promotion, studying, etc, etc.
Many of my early works got lost. Yes, I was bad as photographer and tattooist, and still struggling on both forms.
The problem is that I started on the film era (yes, I know…don’t even try to guess my age!) and after taking several rolls for one tattoo, maaaaaybe one could come out good.
And yes, most of times, NONE would come out good. And I was on the late example most of times.
Switching to digital, relieved me from enormous stress. Monetary, principally…
And that’s how I seriously started get interested in photos. Now I could take millions and not care for the results, so to speak.
Got immense amount of help from friends, and other information were collected on books and of course, trial and error old school way.
I still like to take photos of landscapes, and for my work being directly involved with human beings; I do also love portraits.
Many experiences were made during the years, and some projects do still in work, and other simply faded away.
One that enjoyed doing was this with my friend Sooz Lillend. Shot in 2009 when she was visiting Tokyo, and we decided to do some body painting and subsequently a photo session.
So, here’s a example of media mixes and art forms, always having tattooing as a main filter.
Obviously, I as a “maker” can’t be entitled to judge if this is “art” or not. Not a bit of sarcasm or contradiction here.
I did it purely for the artistic purpose. So the result (at least for me) is purely artistic. It’s when I feel my self (or do call myself) “Tattoo artist”.
Arriving, departuring. A travel is a long or a short connection between two worlds, two countries, two destiny’s. Tattooing can be compared to a travel also. People arrive with dreams and departure with memories.
And by no means I am just a pilot or a bridge between these two worlds.
I do also take part on these travels. The mysterious and exciting, to re-discover the perceptions forgotten or frozen on our imaginations.
I met Manuel in 2012. We did half of his chest in April and then, completed the entire thing in September. And now again in April 2013, we could meet once more to take a prompt photo of the healed tattoo.
That’s the magic about tattooing and the relationship we built with people we worked together.
Sometimes we meet constantly, sometimes we don’t see each other for years. But there’s a strange bond between tattooist and tattooee.
Suppresses word, time and thoughts. Is what I call a travel. Re-discovering forgotten and frozen perceptions.
Not so many people realize that, but the “air” is different in every form in every place.
And I’m not speaking of dry air, hot air, humidity or anything like that.
I am speaking of a “palpable air”.
The one that can be felt by the tattoo breathing for itself, despite the wearer’s rhythm.
When the air (tattoo) itself trans pass the borders, the limitations and the mind set.
So powerful that you can hear it’s blow sound.
The sound that can only be duplicated in that respective place, at that respective time.
The rhythm that cannot be translated, neither be copied.
The original sound of our hearts.
The ancestral sound of all of our mankind.
I still sigh…dreaming for that unmistakable taste every time I whisper that from my lips,
in that respective air surrounding me.
I had tattooed my Italian friend Andrea (center photo) in 2010. He got this old school looking Hannya (left photo) back them, and we had the chance to meet again the following year.
In 2011, he came to play some gigs with a local Japanese band and he did the vocals and made a little tour with the boys, doing it straight up punk style. Sleeping in the Van, drinking cheap booze and playing loud as you can.
At the end of the tour, he visited me and asked for a Namakubi (Severed head) tattoo. Shocking as it might look, the Namakubi means punishment if they are not living a truly righteous life, the circle of life and death and fearless.
Interesting when he choose the area, there was already a lettering with the inscriptions “One chance”. We took it as a “one chance” to live your life to the fullest before you become a Namakubi itself.
And after the tattoo was done, I started take the photos as usual. When I asked him to cross his arms, I noticed his t-shirt print. The image came in my head in a instant sparkle. The Namakubi had this sad look, because he was “dumped” by the girl (on the t-shirt), and she was now hooked with the skull guy.
There’s no coincidence for the photo. And there’s no coincidence why I met Andrea.