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Perseverance Tattoo Exhibit Video1: VMFA w/Kip Fulbeck

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The title of the exhibition at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is derived the Japanese word gaman, loosely translated as “perseverance“—a word that has long been associated with tattooing in Japan. According to Takahiro Kitamura, curator of the exhibition, and Kip Fulbeck, exhibition creator, designer and photographer, perseverance is what has created this amazing art form despite numerous attempts by the Japanese government to suppress it, despite ongoing prejudices against its practitioners and clients, and despite a constant trend to oversimplify its complexities in contemporary media. Perseverance is a core concept in the fleeting art of the Japanese tattoo, a tradition that is transient yet also alive and well in this modern world. *Please help SUPPORT the VMFA’s efforts to elevate tattoo and tattoo art — Follow the VMFA on FaceBook:   Related Articles: Introduction to “Perseverance” by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Japan’s Complex Relationship with TattooRead More »

Japan’s Complex Relationship with Tattoo

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Japan’s Complex Relationship with Tattoo When visiting Japanese Tattoo: Perseverance, Art, and Tradition, on view at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond, Virginia until September 27, you’re struck by the pure artistry. Photo after photo of intricate, mesmerizing designs, breathtaking colors, and symbolic imagery, one interwoven into the other, which would be difficult to render on canvas, much less flesh. There’s a passion and a reverence in these galleries that is almost palpable.  That’s why it’s almost inconceivable that Japan, which has been so instrumental in elevating tattooing to an art form, has also pushed this art form into the shadows, even condemned it for centuries. To understand the seemingly conflicted relationship that Japan has with tattooing, you must carefully unearth the deep roots of Japan’s tattoo culture, which date back to the Jomon Period (roughly 10,500 to 300 BC). That’s when the first evidence of tattooing in Japan was recovered from tombs, in the form of clay figurines with faces painted or engraved to represent tattoos. Fast forward many years later to the Edo Period (1615-1868) and Japanese authorities began using tattoos to mark criminals. According to “Japanese Tattoos: From Yakuza to Artisans, Aesthetes” in the Wall Street Journal, “…convicts were branded with penal markings such as bands on the arms, or the kanji character for ‘dog’ on the forehead.” While this criminal stigma would prove difficult to shake for many centuries, tattooing enjoyed a significant reprieve from the negative connotation at the end of the ...Read More »

Horihide still practices the dying art of hand tattoo

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Hand tattoo artist Horihide is one of the few tebori practitioners who remain, as body ink carries a stigma in Japan and young apprentices are few. GIFU, Japan — Hidden away in the backroom of a modest apartment in this central Japanese city, one of Japan’s last remaining hand-tattoo masters is preparing his tools. Over the last four decades Oguri Kazuo has tattooed notable geisha and countless yakuza, members of Japan’s notorious mafia. Today, the 79-year-old artist, known professionally as Horihide (derived from “hori,” meaning “to carve”),is working on a client who is a little more subdued. Motoyama Tetsuro has spent hundreds of dollars, traveled thousands of miles and waited more than three decades for a session with Horihide. The Japanese-born American software manager wanted the master’s ink in his skin — a living legacy for a dying art. With old masters passing away and young apprentices lacking the patience to learn the painstaking craft of tebori (hand tattooing),many followers believe its days are numbered. “If you know the master, why would you want to work with someone else?” asks Motoyama, 62, who first received the outline of a dragon by Horihide on his right shoulder in the 1970s. Motoyama lost touch with the master — who works only by word-of-mouth introductions in backdoor locations — before the work was complete. Last November, after a 30-plus year search, he finally located Horihide and traveled back to Japan from his home in Cupertino, Calif., to finish the piece. Japanese tattoos are steeped ...Read More »

P E R S E V E R A N C E

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Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World MARCH 8 – SEPTEMBER 14, 2014 Source: www.janm.org About the Exhibition Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World explores the artistry of traditional Japanese tattoos along with its rich history and influence on modern tattoo practices in this groundbreaking photographic exhibition. As Japanese tattoos have moved into the mainstream, the artistry and legacy of Japanese tattooing remain both enigmatic and misunderstood. Often copied by practitioners and aficionados in the West without regard to its rich history, symbolism, or tradition, the art form is commonly reduced to a visual or exotic caricature. Conversely, mainstream Japanese culture still dismisses the subject itself as underground, associating it more with some of its clientele than with the artists practicing it. Both of these mindsets ignore the vast artistry and rich history of the practice. Although tattooing is largely seen as an underground activity in Japan, Japanese tattoo artists have pursued their passions, applied their skills, and have risen to become internationally acclaimed artists. Through the endurance and dedication of these tattoo artists, Japanese tattooing has also persevered and is now internationally renowned for its artistry, lineage, historical symbolism, and skill. Curated by Takahiro Kitamura and photographed and designed by Kip Fulbeck, Perseverance is a groundbreaking exhibition and the first of its kind. Perseverance will explore Japanese tattooing as an art form by acknowledging its roots in ukiyo-e prints. This exhibition will also examine current practices and offshoots of Japanese tattooing in the U.S. and Japan. Perseverance features the work of seven internationally acclaimed tattoo artists, Horitaka, Horitomo, Chris Horishiki Brand, Miyazo, Shige, Junii, ...Read More »

Alex “Kofuu” Reinke Horikitsune

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Photos and interview by Ino Mei Source: www.heartbeatink.gr Alex “Kofuu” Reinke Horikitsune, the only apprentice of Horiyoshi III apart from his son Souryou Kazuyoshi and part of Horiyoshi III family, spoke exclusively to HeartbeatInk Tattoo Magazine about the path in tattooing, the “Shu Ha Ri” learning system, the highly importance of the design and the “limits” of tradition. How were you first introduced to tattoo? When I was twelve years old I started Martial Arts. As a kid, from a really young age I was constantly drawing. So when the Martial Arts came into the picture, I started drawing Asian themes and especially Japanese; like dragons and all sorts of stuff. When I was fourteen, we were on a trip with my family to San Francisco and by chance I walked into “Tattoo City” which is Ed Hardy’s tattoo shop. Of course I had absolutely no idea about it. I bought Ed Hardy’s yellow “Tattoo Time” and Sandi Fellman’s “Japanese Tattoo” book and then I was drawing out of those books all the time. I was crazy for them. At that age, I had many older friends and when we returned to Germany after San Francisco, they asked me to design some tattoos for them because they liked my drawings and they couldn’t draw themselves. So I drew some designs for them and they went and got them tattooed. I kept drawing and drawing tattoos until I finished high-school and went for my A – levels. At that time I started tattooing. It was 1995 ...Read More »

Irezume: Japanese Tattoo Art Exhibition

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Lindsey Carmichael Article Preview for Tattoo Artist Magazine Issue #34

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Interview by Tim Hendricks Tim Hendricks: Do you plan on ever mellowing out with the traveling or do you want to keep going? Lindsey Carmichael: I love it. I have to backtrack a tiny bit and say that I was at Gold Rush when these changes came about in my life, right after I turned 40. I was kind of feeling closed off and slightly alone in my life… Read More »

Steven Burlton Article Preview for Tattoo Artist Magazine Issue #34

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Interview by Dan Sinnes Dan Sinnes: What do you think about the new generation of tattooers? Like people who tattoo for three years and are amazing tattooers? Steven Burlton: It’s just like we were talking about. They’re well on their way. Of course it’s way easier to get into it and the facets are all open now. There’s no limit to what you can get a hold of, as far as reference materials and supplies and stuff like that… Read More »

Japanese tattoos from Belgium’s great! The Hori Tsuki Kage Article

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Interview by Brian Kaneko Brian Kaneko: So you do all Japanese tattoo art on people, but what others aspects of that culture do you use in tattooing? For example, how your studio is set up, how you interact with clients, etc. Also, what is your approach to a new client who will be starting a large piece with you? Shad: My studio is a private studio by appointment only. First, the customer contacts me by e-mail, which is the easiest way to get in touch with me. We can talk about the design…Read More »

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