Horitaka: I Love Books!

By Takahiro “Horitaka” Kitamura
It’s no secret that I love books. I collect them, I write them, I publish them… and it’s nice to see that amidst the flurry of Google image searches and technological advances, books are still in use in the tattoo community. I haven’t been tattooing that long, but book collecting was, and is, something all my mentors and role models encouraged. It was about study and reference, doing your homework to make the best tattoo drawing you could!

Having the right reference would be like having a better ink than the next guy, a crucial difference. Now, everything is out in the open and readily available. While some people bemoan this, (and there certainly are drawbacks) I’m here at the London tattoo convention looking at one of the positive aspects of information sharing: the new Spider Murphy’s book!

This book is nothing short of spectacular, something we have come to expect from publisher and tattoo great Miki Vialetto. Miki has a long history in the tattoo community. He wears a full bodysuit, puts on the best conventions, publishes great magazines and epic books. So it’s no surprise that the Spider Murphy’s book kicks ass! At first, I thought this would be a book of really good “flash,” a collection of painted sheets but I think Spider Murphy’s crew has achieved something much higher.

This book is art, it’s not simply a collection of tattoo designs, it has an aesthetic and conveys a mood. I flipped through it with Chad Koeplinger and Colin Baker in our hotel room and we were floored! And as with all Miki Vialetto books, it is a beautifully made hardcover with nice paper, but like his other books, it is a limited run so don’t sleep on it!

I am also really excited about the upcoming Bloodwork: Bodies book by Adrian Lee and Max Dolberg. Several years in the making, this dynamic duo has raised the bar on books with their last book on sleeves.

They travel all over the world photographing amazing tattoo work professionally. You can really see the difference a good photographer with an artistic eye makes! This book releases in October and is sure to blow your mind. I’ve seen a few of the shots and am really excited about this!

Also coming soon is the book on Fudo Myo-o by Horitomo. Titled Immovable, it is his personal study on the Japanese iconic god Fudo Myo-o. Filled with original back piece designs by Horitomo, tons of reference drawings, and pages of text about the god, this book will really educate those interested in learning more about Japanese tattooing and Buddhism.

As the publisher, I spent a lot of time translating and editing with the rest of the crew and we all felt lucky to be part of such a great work!

I recently saw the newest book from HARDYMARKS, the publisher that started it all! To me, Ed Hardy is the standard and our guiding light. Without his efforts as a publisher, tattooing would be years behind and I most certainly would not be tattooing or publishing. Most tattooers of my generation got started because of Tattootime! Their newest book is about Filipino tattooer Rosie Camanga and features tons of his designs. I love Camanga’s work, it’s a bit rough in line as well as grammar and this is what makes it so good! This is another must have book.

Speaking of bringing back the old, I’m glad Tattoo Artist Magazine is putting the first five issues in book form. I figured they would do this eventually as those issues are long gone now but the demand is still there!

I’ve always felt that books were more permanent than magazines (nothing against mags) so I’m glad to see TAM doing the reprint. TAM has so many important interviews and has grown so much into such an important tattoo reference tool that it would be a waste not to do this! I hope to see more volumes in the future!

And finally, I am so glad that Andreas Coenan is working on a book with/about Marcus Pacheco. Grime and I interviewed Marcus years ago for the Underway is the Only Way book we made and it’s about time someone made a feature book on the legend that is Marcus Pacheco. Few people can say they’ve actually changed tattooing and Marcus is definitely one of them. San Francisco in the 90s was a special time and Marcus was one of many who took risks and made a huge impact. I am really looking forward to seeing his work properly documented!

It’s nice to see that book publishing and tattoo books are alive and well. Long live books!(Especially those published by tattooers!!!)

Horitaka (Taki) can be found at:

State of Grace Tattoo
221 Jackson Street
San Jose, CA 95112
Phone: (408) 441-7770
Hours: 11am – 7pm
Closed on Tuesday

Similar Articles

5 thoughts on “Horitaka: I Love Books!

  1. Bibliophile here too. So many great sources run by good people with a real commitment to provide good books (gomineko, gentlemans, tattooflashbooks and artist direct in addition to the publishers mentioned above). In addition to some of the books above, I’m looking forward to the arrival of Dana Helmuth’s new sketchbook on snakes, Venom and some older books from the late Ozuma Kaname (inspiring art that lives on).
    Yay for good books, publishers and suppliers!

Comments are closed.