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Categories: Tattoo Pic | Author: admin 16.09.2014

Over the next few weeks we’re going to pay tribute to Japanese-themed tattoos and the contributions of 10 Tattoo Artists widely considered to be some of the BEST IN THE WORLD.
For an ever-increasing  number of tattoo collectors (and artists alike), Japanese-styled tattoos are appreciated as the most sophisticated and visually pleasing style of tattooing, today. The history of Japanese tattooing and the mythological roots of its powerful yet elegant imagery are deep topics of study and the daunting pursuit of many modern professional artists and scholars, alike. There are reasons Norman Collins (aka Sailor Jerry) is so respected by the tattoo community, not the least of which was Jerry’s continual exchange of letters with accomplished tattooists, worldwide. It was Ed’s ability to mix east and west imagery and technique that would cement him in the pantheons of tattoo history.
Horiyoshi III, Mick Tattoo, Flip Leu, Trevor McStay, Chris Trevino, Shige, Jason Brooks, Dana Helmuth, Mike Rubendall, State of Grace, and MORE! Each of these important tattoo artists contributed substantially to the growth of interest in japanese styled tattoos.
You should look into Don Nolan I stopped at his shop several years back an he is still strong .
I’m off to Tokyo(Shinjuku) in May,and wondered if anyone can recommend an artist whilst I’m there? The samurai are a class of highly disciplined and well trained warriors excelling in the martial arts. Though known about since the late 1800s, the popularity of Japanese tattoos in the United States, Europe and around the globe has really only expanded exponentially since the 1960s, prior to this time very few people could understand the depth to these expressions of ink in skin- historically or mythologically. The myths represented in these tattoos and Japan’s rich history of tattooing are subjects for future blog posts, but for our purposes, now, let us trace the various Japanese styles of tattooing, today, back to but a few primary influences- starting with (perhaps, surprisingly to some) the pioneering work of American master, Sailor Jerry Collins and his correspondence with Tattooers around the globe.


Jerry became one of the first truly global hubs of tattoo information in history, and was one of the first americans to learn anything of significance from real Japanese tattoo masters. Hardy studied hard for half a year to learn all he could, later he would later write of his  interaction with mentor Sailor Jerry and of his time and experiences in Japan. Trust me, these men and women are passionate about what they do- the history, the techniques, and the overall look of  Japanese tattoos.
The whole Japanese tattoo phenomenon spread across the US and into Europe where it would again undergo all-new forms of evolutionary transformations, only to return once again to the US and then even back (full-circle) into Japan! By way of an article in the 1940s on Japanese tattoos in Life Magazine, his work was seen by Sailor Jerry, but it was Ed Hardy who would later bring Kuronuma Tamotsu to the US to have his works exhibited in San Francisco at the World Expo of Tattoos in 1982. Fortunately, at least SOME of their life’s work has been documented in some rare but fascinating books. In the 70s he was on par With Ed and Cliff Raven and to look at this objectively he would be included .
We are blessed in belfast to have the Japanese style master Chris Crooks on our doorstep and a local magazine called Ulster Ink.
He steadily puts out an insane amount of original Japanese style tattoos and paintings.Just my 2 cents worth. Over the years the samurai’s image has been glorified by the media, whether it be in books or movies.
A skull in typical samurai attire looks cool and gets the message of might and power across too! Tattooing is a visual art form, however, and Japanese tattoo work has always had an incomparable effect on even untrained eyes.


Jerry took what he learned and made it his own, but he didn’t just keep all this stuff merely for himself! There are a few, highly regarded artists responsible for these more modern movements, from the islands of Japan to Hawaii to San Francisco, Switzerland and beyond, and it is these KEY ARTISTS we shall highlight in the days to come. Not much of his work is preserved, but you can see the beauty and grace in these rare photos. These books are well worth purchasing if you are interested and want to learn more, and all but considered foundational for any aspiring tattooist wanting to actually DO Japanese tattoos, today. Besides swordsmanship and fighting skills, the samurai were also made extremely sensitive human beings by giving them a thorough education in arts and poetry. It looks mysterious and enigmatic since most people staring at it can’t figure out what it stands for.
Just imagine early westerners traveling to a strange land, months at sea, stepping off and seeing such decorated warriors! No, he shared what he learned with his clients, serious collectors and a handful of other professional tattoo artists who each, in turn, found their own way of sharing the exotic information. As a young tattooer back in the 90s, it was discovering these books and seeing firsthand just how powerful their work was that I began to understand the passion that drove Ed, Mike and others to learn and share ALL THEY COULD about this unique expression of the ancient craft of tattooing in Japan.
It’d be rather safe to say that, were it NOT for Sailor Jerry’s diligent work and willingness to share with others, tattooing would be very different today!



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