> Horitata

Based in Tokyo, Horitata is a huge fan of American design, but his work is mostly inspired by the Edo period (1600-1868), the golden age of traditional Japanese tattoo design.

The character here really stands out from the background, making it instantly recognisable, even from a distance.


yellow Blaze

The dragon tattooed on this skull was created by Shige, a self-taught tattooist based in Yokohama who is the founder of Yellow Blaze Tattoo.

While the basis of his work is Japanese history and traditional culture, Shige has created his own original style, which he describes as a never-ending work in progress.


> En

En works at Genko Studio in Nagoya, which is well known for his modern spin on traditional Japanese tattoo designs.

This illustration features a koi – a symbol of love and a recurring element in traditional Japanese tattoos. The hints of orange, red and blue give a modern look to the traditional design of the koi.


> Horiyoshi III

This tattoo is a good example of Japanese tattoo design in the irezumitradition: a full-body tattoo, covering arms, back, upper legs and chest.Horiyoshi III, an artist specialized in this approach, is so famous that there’s even a museum dedicated to his art in Yokohama.

Although not entirely traditional in his approach – he works with electric needles – Horiyoshi III tries to stick to traditional classical motifs such as koi, dragons and peonies.

> Gakkin

Gakkin, who works at Harizanmai tattoo studio in Kyoto, takes a new approach to traditional Japanese themes, strongly influenced by mangagraffiti and graphic design. But although his tattoos are defiantly 21st-century, Gakkins still follows many of the traditional rules of Japanese tattoo design, such as: “Never put momiji [message dolls] and sakura [cherry blossom] in the same drawing”, and “Tigers should always go with bamboo”.

While the background of this design is reminiscent of traditional Japanese prints, the colourful maple and the steaks of bright red on the koi makes it stand out as strikingly modern.

Written by Mylène Boyrie


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