By Horitaka and Horiyuki
[*Note from Editor* We’re sorry to say that Pinky passed away December 2nd, 2010. We’re leaving the story as originally written, when Pinky was still with us.]
Pinky Yun may be one of last great strong holds of a bygone era. His career began in Hong Kong tattooing sailors for the mob and his life’s journey led him to opening a shop in Japan and later multiple shops in California. His flash continues to inspire generations of tattooing and he is best known for his definitive interpretation of tigers, panthers, dragons and of course pin-ups. The most well known pin-up he designed was his famously iconic Suzy Wong, which was popularized by Sailor Jerry…
Throughout his life Pinky maintained a series of correspondences with many legendary figures in tattoo history, such as Sailor Jerry in Hawaii, and had pen pals as far away as Europe and even Australia. It was at the first tattoo conventions that he made an impact, stunning crowds by drawing with both hands at once on paper and tattooing dragons without stencils.
After tattooing in Japan and being exposed to Japanese tattoo styles, his repertoire broadened beyond military tattoos into Japanese designs. Ironically a Hong Kong kid doing sailor tattoos on Americans and Europeans traveled to Japan, not unlike Ed Hardy and other Western artists, and was so inspired by the dragons and koi fish he encountered there that he incorporated what he saw into his own work, ultimately procuring him as the archetype of Oriental tattooing.
Generous, intelligent, well-traveled and a courteous gentleman Pinky is humble and doesn’t have airs about him. He is the Godfather of the Oriental style of sailor tattooing.
Pinky Yun is more than a tattooer, he is a living legend. His friendly disposition and demeanor alongside his signature work has attracted tattooers from all over the world to his doorstep and, although well into his 80’s, he still tattoos daily. He has been tattooing longer than you have…
Pinky’s complete article is featured in TAM #26.
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