Results tagged “Horitaka”

Oct201311
04:32 PM
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It's always a little weird when you get a phone call that asks, "Can you come by the shop so we can photograph your back? And... be sure to shave." (It's even weirder when you find yourself saying to your girlfriend, "No one is gonna see that part and it's gonna suck when it grows back - DON'T SHAVE ME THERE!")

But these are the sacrifices I will make for Horitaka - an amazing man, tattooist, publisher, event-organizer, and friend.

October 25-27th brings us the inimitable Bay Area Convention of the Tattoo Arts at the SFO Hyatt Regency. This year, Horitaka is presenting a seminar from Shige and a talk and book signing from Ed Hardy in addition to a "who's who" litany of tattooists grinding away in their booths.

If you're anywhere near San Francisco, it would behoove you to be at this amazing show. Trust me.

Click here to get more info on hours and pricing.

Jan201227
12:20 PM
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tattoo hands 1.jpgThe label "anatomical art" is often assumed to be tattoo art on skin, but in a fun twist, Repop Mfg and thirteen renowned tattoo artists are changing the meaning by creating collectible art pieces, which can be purchased as easily as a US Senator.

These beautiful limited edition "hands" are real leather printed and sewn by hand in the US; then stuffed and mounted on a wood base and numbered. Curated by Takahiro Horitaka Kitamura, each piece in the collection embodies the signature style of the artists chosen for the project. In addition to Horitaka, the artists include Steve Byrne, Colin Baker, Thomas Hooper, Chris Trevino, Chris Brand, Tim Hendricks, Horiken, Dan Wysuph, Chuey Quintanar, Chad Koeplinger, Chris Yvon, and Scott Sylvia.
 
On February 1st, the hands will be made available for purchase by Repop Mfg. but be quick to click "checkout" as it's a limited run of 100/100.

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Apr201119
12:28 PM
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Photos by John Agcaoili.

The latest issue of Skin & Ink magazine (July 2011), on newsstands now, features my profile on the multi-talented Takahiro Kitamura, aka Horitaka, tattooist and owner of State of Grace Tattoo and State of Grace Publishing in San Jose, CA. Born in Japan but raised in California since the age of two, Horitaka has worked tirelessly to educate and promote Japanese tattoo culture worldwide. In our interview, Horitaka explains what led him on this path. Here's a taste from the article:

"I always had my heart set on getting a backpiece from Horiyoshi III of Yokohama, whose work I found through the Tattoo Time books. Even then, when I had an extremely untrained eye, I knew that this guy was the best. Something spoke to me. But I thought, I can't go there. I can't afford it. A bunch of can'ts. One day-this was around early 1998-I'm making tattoo needles with Jason Kundell and he says, 'Why don't you just call him? The worst thing he can do is hang up on you.' So I got up the nerve and called the number."

That call changed Horitaka's life. Horiyoshi was intrigued by the young American tattooist-and his strange Japanese accent-and told Horitaka, "Write me a letter." He did and Horiyoshi agreed to take him on as a client. When the time for his appointment had come, Horitaka flew to Japan nervous, not knowing what to expect. Horiyoshi's old place was the second floor story of an old house without any sign or even building number. When Horitaka finally found it and walked up the rusted staircase into the studio, there was Horiyoshi with died and permed red hair. It wasn't what he was expecting of a revered tattoo master. When Horiyoshi showed him the sketch of the backpiece, Horitaka was further taken aback. "It was strictly ballpoint pen. I still have it. He took this scribble, blew it up and made a stencil of it. When you see how intricate my back is, you won't believe it. All the intricate patterns were freehand-needle to skin freehand."

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During the time he was getting tattooed, Horitaka developed a relationship with Horiyoshi. He would help translate letters sent by fans around the world. He was also encouraged to come to the shop outside of his appointment times and copy the drawings Horiyoshi set out for him. Most important, he intently observed everything that went on around him. "I was amped and inspired. The code, the way people act. Every romantic notion of that Samurai spirit of honor and tattooing all came alive right there." He adds, "Of course I was naive about certain elements, like what types of customers were coming in. In the beginning Horiyoshi said, 'Yeah, I've tattooed some Yakuza [Japanese crime families] but mostly carpenters and laborers.' And I'm thinking, carpenters and laborers don't wear Louis Vuitton. And then little by little he admitted, 'Well, maybe 50% of the clients are Yakuza...well, maybe 80%.' I'm not knocking it because some of those guys were the most polite, respectful clients and seeing that respect was amazing."

Eventually, Horiyoshi formally took him on as an apprentice and gave him the name "Horitaka." "People have asked me: 'How did you score an apprenticeship with Horiyoshi III?' I tell them that I didn't ask for it. It just happened. In any relationship, whether it be man and woman, or master and apprentice, there's going to be some chemistry. We just clicked."

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After ten years, however, the apprenticeship came to an end. "Unfortunately, as what happens in many relationships, we started to grow apart. I found it harder and harder to be a Japanese apprentice. There is still an element of following the master's will, and I was never 100% good at that. Growing up American, I was always testing that boundary. I was always one to question authority and that doesn't really work well in the Japanese framework. Sadly, I ended up quitting as an apprentice, but I will always love and respect Horiyoshi III and will never forget all he taught me."

Read more on Horitaka in Skin & Ink's July issue, out now. Also check the State of Grace Facebook page.

**
On a related note:

State of Grace has donated $11,577.83 to the Red Cross through proceeds from their "Stand With Japan" tees. They hope to double that figure with a new shirt created by Horitomo, which goes on sale tomorrow. You can buy the shirt (and help with Japan's relief efforts) on www.standwithjapanshirt.com.    
Mar201121
07:22 PM
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Last week we wrote about fundraising for relief efforts in Japan that are being organized within the tattoo community. Here's an update:

* The Stand with Japan shirts are now available. Designed by Horitaka and Chad Koeplinger, the shirts can be ordered online or directly purchased at State of Grace, Strong Tattoo, and Yu-Ai Kai Senior Service (all located in San Jose, CA). US orders are $25, and for those beyond, the shirts are $35.

* Many tattoo artists are also auctioning off artwork. Tattoo Art for Japan has a list of some auctions, largely by German artists.

* In NYC, Dan Marshall of Tribulation Tattoo is holding a silent auction online of his paintings that will run until midnight Wednesday, March 23.

* And there are plenty of other sales and tattoo events being listed every day on the Tattooers for Japan Facebook page.

--
UPDATE: Beyond tattoo artists, some heavily tattooed Yakuza are helping out according to The Daily Beast.
Mar201117
05:08 PM
horitaka japan relief.jpgThe global tattoo community has been mobilized to help relief efforts in Japan.

One group, Tattooers for Japan, is encouraging artists worldwide to raise funds by donating a day's tattoo fees to a specific charity. Here are more details:

"The goal is to unite tattooers globally to show their compassion and gratitude to a country and culture that has influenced most of us artistically and personally. All of us owe a large debt of gratitude to Japan for its contribution to tattooing and the trade we are all so passionate about. The idea is for each tattooer/shop to schedule a walk-in day in April with all proceeds going to relief efforts in Japan. Choose your own day, advertise to your client base and community, pick a theme if you'd like. Please invite any tattooers you know to join this effort. [...] Let the Japanese foundations of respect, compassion, and integrity inspire you to help!"

A charity has yet to be officially chosen but, according to their Facebook group, it looks like the money could go to the Red Cross. They are still waiting to hear from artists in Japan about more direct methods to help. Their FB group page also has instant updates on the exact days some tattoo studios will be holding their fundraisers.

Tattoo Revolution Magazine and Tattoo.tv also have lists of relief efforts.

We'll be posting updates as well including the release of specially designs tees by Horitaka and Chad Koeplinger, the proceeds of which will be donated to charity. [One of the designs is shown here.]

If your studio or organization is planning an event, please let us know.
Feb201108
12:51 PM
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I've found another must-have for my tattoo library: "Tattoo Artist, A Collection of Narratives" by tattoo and fine artist Jill "Horiyuki" Mandelbaum.

The 248-page softcover, released by State of Grace Publishing, is an interview book with thirteen different artists and includes hundreds of photos. Jill explains the impetus behind this three-year project and some highlights of the book:   

We chose to interview some of the most inspiring tattoo artists around, spanning several generations and a variety of genres and styles. The idea was to bring together a group of artists dedicated to celebrating tattooing as a tradition with respect and discipline. The book features Richard Stell, Oliver Peck, Jef Whitehead, Henning Jorgensen, Chris Trevino and Gary Cosmala to name a few.

Tattoo Artist also contains a chapter about Pinky Yun, the legendary Hong Kong tattoo artist who brought his craft right here to San Jose. Pinky really introduced the Western world to Oriental tattoo designs with the flash he created for Spaulding and Rogers. He was also a close friend of Ed Hardy's and is cited in Hardy's Sailor Jerry Collins; American Tattoo Master as inspiring Sailor Jerry's pin-ups through their correspondences. With Pinky's unfortunate passing this year it is an honor to have captured his legacy to share with the world.

Tattoo Artist is available online at State of Grace for $75 including shipping, and for $60 at their San Jose studio.

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Also check out Jill's stellar portfolio of Japanese tattooing here.

Dec201011
02:03 PM
Full Coverage third edition.jpgFull Coverage Adrian Lee.jpgIn 2006, Adrian Lee and the NSKolectiv unveiled Full Coverage, a project in which their Suits Made to Fit "homework assignment," documenting the creation of full bodysuit tattoo designs on paper, was now put on living bodies -- thirty-three bodies transformed by eight artists: Adrian Lee, Horitaka, Paco Excel, Matt Shamah, Ron Earhart, Nate Banuelos, Jason Kundell, and Phil Holt. [See this trailer on how the project developed.] 

The Full Coverage two-volume hardcover, with photographs by Max Dolberg and NSK illuminating the process from concept to creation, was released as a limited edition. It begins with an essay by Horiyoshi III followed by Adrian Lee's introductory text. The book sold out within one month. A second edition was released. Sold out. Used copies on eBay. Sold.

Now a revised third edition has been released that is 240 pages (11x14") of tattoo masterworks in a beautiful hardcover slipcase. It can be purchased for $80 on Last Gasp.

For purists, a rare copy of the first edition Japanese version of the book is being sold on the Analog Tattoo online store for $250. Other books available are Bloodwork Sleeves (350-page hardcover of 67 sleeves by 30 tattooers), Action Reaction & Suits Made to Fit. All gorgeous additions to your tattoo library.
Sep201020
12:22 PM
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Celebrating its sixth successful year, A Convention of the Tattoo Arts will take place October 22-24, this year in SF at The San Francisco Airport Hyatt Regency. Organized by State of Grace Productions, the show is run by tattooists for tattooists and collectors, and not by a convention corp trying to squeeze a buck out of the "tattoo fad." In addition to the hand-picked roster of artists, there are a number of exciting events that weekend.

For one, there's the groundbreaking seminar by Chris Conn Askew: "Drawing Women for Tattoo, the Chris Conn Way." The class, which costs $200 a person, entails a slide-show presentation and lecture, live sketching, and Q&A with the artist (who retired from tattooing in 2006). Program details can be found on Chris's Tumblr blog. Each attendee will also receive an instructional sketchbook, signed and numbered, exclusive to this convention. The seminar is a limited-enrollment event and is already 90% booked, so if you're interested, it's best to get in touch with Chris at sekretcity@hotmail.com right away (no drop-ins will be accepted). You can view more of Chris' fine art, like the one above, on his gallery page.

A number of book releases and signings are taking place as well:  Grime's much anticipated book covering his last ten years, and Jill "Horiyuki" Mandelbaum's Tattoo Artist: A Collection of Narratives. Also for sale will be the Bob Roberts: In a World of Compromise I Don't and These Old Blue Arms: The Life & Work of Amund Dietzel, among other books.

The show kicks off Thursday evening, October 21st, with an opening party hosted by Black Heart Tattoo. For more info, check the convention site.
Jul201026
10:13 PM
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For my LA homies, this Saturday July 31st, Known Gallery will present Bob Roberts & Bert Krak's Ladies Welcome show, which will run until August 21st.

What's particularly exciting about the show, in addition to the art on view of course, is the release of In A World of Compromise...I Don't by Bob Roberts -- the first book ever on the tattoo legend. [Read more on the book in our May post.]

Who really is Bob Roberts?

I'll have Takahiro 'Taki' Kitamura, publisher of the book (and renowned tattoo artist), tell ya:

The man, the myth, the legend: Bob Roberts. Few people have had the impact on tattooing that Bob Roberts has. His sheer artistic genius is sublime, and his biography reads the same way. For over thirty years he has been part of the vanguard of talented tattoo artists who, unbeknownst to them at the time, have pushed tattooing from a craft to an art form.

The list of artists Bob has worked alongside reads like a star-studded who's who of the tattoo artist hall of fame, of which Bob would no doubt be a member if such a thing existed. He apprenticed with Colonel Todd and Bob Shaw at the infamous Pike and then worked alongside Cliff Raven, Greg Irons, Paul Rogers, Jack Rudy and Don Ed Hardy. His own shop, Spotlight Tattoo, continues to house a roster of talented artists bent on following in Bob's footsteps.

Bob's creative genius is not limited to tattooing and painting, he is also an accomplished musician. His musical career reads much the same as his tattoo resume. Bob has played with Ruben and the Jets, Hot Tuna, The Offs, New York Dolls, Johnny Thunders, to name a few. His life has been 'rock and roll' as well; Frisco, New York, LA, Europe, Japan, Bob has done the world tour.

He's also ridden across most of the United States on a Harley, and he's 'ridden it like he stole it.' That is how Bob lives his life, and his artwork reflects it.
But the thing that stands out the most to me about Bob is his persona. Ungovernable, fiercely independent, Bob does not compromise.... He does it HIS way. And thankfully for us, Bob Roberts has forever changed tattooing for the better.

It's guaranteed to be an exciting book. If you can't make it to the show, you can pre-order it here for $320 (US). The books, signed and numbered, will be shipped in mid-August.
Oct200914
12:38 PM
Underway.jpgLet's just all assume that Marisa's new Black Tattoo Art book is already on everybody's list -- and it should be, since it's the kind of book that I imagine will be one of those much sought after publications fifty years from now. Anyway, history is important, books are good, here's three you can still get and should be reading or purchasing immediately. We'll go reverse chronologically.

Underway is the Only Way
This is the one that prompted me to make this little list, and while you can still snag a copy on Book Mistress, it's not currently in print. So go get a copy now and read the rest of this later. A joint effort between Grime and Horitaka, Underway is all interviews with current tattooers, both old vets and younger guys, and they run the gamut: Jack Rudy, Marcus Pacheco, Filip Leu, Corey Miller and a Chris O'Donnell/Mike Rubendall conversation where beer is spilled at least four times. It's a really fantastic look at how a lot of tattooers came up, but what's even better is that the conversations are long; which means they get in to some great topics, instead of just bitching about TV shows. There's also Guy Aitchison, Aaron Cain, Troy Denning...

New York City Tattoo
I got this book a few years ago and it's always a fun one to come back to. Sam O'Reilly got the ball rolling in Chinatown in 1875 and New York City Tattoo picks up with tattooers like Brooklyn Blackie, Huck Spaulding and the Moskowitz brothers. It's all oral interviews and full of stories about grungy, closet-sized spaces and serious bare-knuckle brawls before the ban in 1964. This was real deal tattooing and if it doesn't make you respect the trade and its rough-and-tumble western roots, then I'm sending a certain fiery redhead your way that I'm sure can sort you out. There's also some amazing old photos and some great old flash.

Tattoo: Secrets of a Strange Art
Originally published by Simon and Schuster in 1933, Dover re-printed Albert Parry's work in 2006. Pretty sure someone mentioned this on N+S, or maybe it was the old Needled, but it's definitely worth a look -- they've got Charlie Wagner in here! It gives you the 1930s perspective, which can be pretty hilarious but also surprisingly similar to the current state of affairs here in 2009. Take, for example, tattooers throwing a fit when they started making ladies pajamas with tattoo designs on them. Parry does a good job of talking to folks and trying to get to the bottom of why so many different types of people seem to love tattoos: ladies, kids, criminals, hookers, circus folks. Also has some photos and flash designs, but they aren't the focus.

Now, there are a few books I failed to mention. Here's another quick list of books we've covered on here (in varying depth) that you should also check out, and, of course, the Shige book has already become one of those much sought after publications...so we assume it's assumed. But:

* The Art of Shige

* Tattoo Machines: Tall Tales, True Stories & My Life in Ink

* John Reardon's The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting a Tattoo

* The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olivia Oatman

* Tattoo in Japan

Also, Lal Hardy's Mammoth Book of Tattoos is worth a look, too, for some great current work and Vintage Tattoos is fun for some classic designs. Ok, so this was what, three lists? Two and a half? Feel free to add!



Jul200917
12:17 PM
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When I returned from Greece two weeks ago, I was greeted with a stunning coffee table book in the mail that instantly took me on another trip: SHIGE, the 328-page full color hardcover that is at once a personal journal and breathtaking exhibition of one of today's great Japanese tattoo artists.

Take a look at Shige's online portfolio and now imagine that properly showcased in 10x13" along with his stencils, paintings, photos from conventions and guest spots, and personal family photos.

Indeed, Shige's devotion to his wife and partner Chisato and baby girl Ayaka, is not only ever present in the book but in person at tattoo events; it's important to note because it offers a glimpse into the man behind the art -- art so masterful, it can be intimidating. But his warm smile and watching him play with Ayaka, whom I've watched go from stroller to toddling around conventions, puts clients at ease, allowing them to enjoy the full tattoo experience.

Beyond his character, Shige is known for a particular style of Japanese tattooing that pays homage to traditional artistic elements of Horimono but not a strict interpretation, bringing to his work many other influences.

In his foreword to the book, Master Horiyoshi III best describes Shige's work:

"Around 1994 Shige's work clearly shows that he was strongly influenced by Filip Leu of Switzerland. However, he read art books and studied about aesthetics from various art worlds. As a result, nowadays, Shige has created his own original world that merges elements of Japanese tradition and Western art elements. His tattooing has begun surpassing not only traditional tattooing but also art."

Horiyoshi III's  mention of Filip Leu is significant because Shige himself says in the book that meeting the third-generation tattooist changed his life. Shige never had an apprentcehsip and is a self-taught tattooer, but by getting tattooed by Filip and developing a friendship, he saw Japanese tattoo art in a different way -- that one "didn't have to conform to any particular style but could create freely and with his own imagination."

Many personal photos of Shige, Chisato and the Leu family illustrate the book -- my favorites are watching the process of Shige's own body suit by Filip.

yoko.jpgThese snapshots bring the reader in at the beginning of the book, engaging -- and endearing us -- to Shige but also prepares us for the stunning body suits and the personal stories of their wearers, like that of Yoko Uki, shown here (see more here).

A must read is Yoko's account of how she came to Shige for her full body suit, the difficult reactions she received in her native Japan, and how she found acceptance at international tattoo conventions, like the first one she went to in London in 2005. I remember running up to Yoko in the bathroom at that convention and completely devouring her artwork; she was so gracious turning around, lifting her arms, posing for pics, both of us giggling. Meeting her was the highlight of that show for me and she talks about how our appreciative response to her changed the way she lives with her Horimono.

That sense of community and belonging that, yes, still remains with us, is a thread that binds the Shige book, presented through the personal journey of one artist.

It was my own vacation, however, that led to this later posting on the book and so the hardcover is now sold out (and it sold out fast) BUT the paperback will be released in the Fall and I promise to give you heads up as soon as I get word from Horitaka of State of Grace who puts out the best books on tattoo.

Meanwhile, enjoy Shige's portfolio online or take a trip yourself to his Yellowblaze studio in Yokohama.
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