Artist of the Month: Zhuo Dan Ting

Zhuo Dan Ting is the owner of Shanghai Tattoo as of January 2007 (located in Shanghai, China) where she tattoos people from all around the world. People seek out her art from far and wide, and are not disappointed with the results.

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Black and grey baby portrait.
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Realistic elephant half sleeve.
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Black and grey bio mechanical sleeve.

Zhuo Dan Ting has been an artist since an early age, where her father (an art teacher himself) and his friends would teach her new techniques. She went on to art school in Harbin after high school, but quickly moved onto something entirely different.

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Black and grey Asian leg sleeve featuring Fu Dog, peony, and great wall of China.
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Bio mechanical/ripped skin/ realism back piece!
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Bright dragon and flower half sleeve.
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Amazing realistic Greek Poseidon sleeve.

Ting found the subcultures of death metal and punk music, which is where she fell in love with tattoos. Ting started off tattooing her friends in Harbin’s underground music scene, where she quickly started making a name for herself in the tattoo world.

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Full black and grey realistic sleeve with monster, lightning, waves, etc.
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Ting doing her thing, tattooing a painful chest piece!
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Surrealist color sleeve with angel, skull, and watercolor.
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Color realism owl, skull, and eyeball half sleeve.

Ting does brilliant black and grey, photo realism, portrait art, and Asian styled pieces inspired by both Chinese and Japanese art. Along with making beautiful art, Ting was also the first woman in China to open her own tattoo shop, a big step for the Chinese tattoo community!

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Black and grey Monkey King half sleeve.
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Realistic color eye.
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Brilliant Japanese style peony flower.
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Realistic Japanese/Chinese style dragon sleeve.
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Realistic portrait.
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Terrifying zombie clown portrait.

If you’re in Shanghai, Shanghai Tattoo is the place to go!

Anubis Tattoos:

Anubis is the ancient Egyptian god/guardian of the dead. The name Anubis actually comes from the Greek, but the earliest Egyptian names for him include Anpu, or Inpu. Both have the same root word which means “royal child”, and “inp” which means “to decay”.

Anubis Agny Fran at Black Velvet Studio Salon in De Santiago, Chile
Watercolor Anubis done by Agny Fran at Black Velvet Studio in De Santiago, Chile.

He is generally depicted as a black, jackal-dog-man hybrid, with the body of a man and head of a jackal/dog. The colour black was chosen for its symbolism of both decaying bodies, and the soil along the Nile river.

Anubis Andrew Conner
More American traditional version of Anubis by Andrew Conner.

Anubis is first seen as the son of Ra and Hesat, before he is brought into the story of Osiris, and said to be his son.

Anubis Bryan Hidalgo Reyes
Black and grey full bodied Anubis by Bryan Hidalgo Reyes.

Anubis is the earliest god depicted on tomb walls, usually presiding over the mummification process, or weighing of the soul. This is the process in which a persons soul is weighed against the feather of truth.

Anubis Codrea Bogdan
Brilliant black and grey Anubis and Ra by Codrea Bogdan.

Anubis is both judge and guide of the dead. Making him an authoritative figure, as well as a protector. This makes him one of the most important gods in Egyptian history.

Anubis Dany Linhares in Brazil
Neo traditional Anubis by Dany Linhares in Brazil.

Later in history he was partially adopted into Greek mythology, associating him with Hermes.

Anubis Dono B in Seoul, South Korea
Blackwork skeletal Anubis by Dono B in Seoul, South Korea.

As a tattoo, Anubis is often done in blackwork, black and grey, neo traditional, water colour, and realism styles.

Anubis Fatima Oliveira
Neo traditional Anubis by Fatima Oliveira.
Anubis Heather Bailey at Black Heart in San Francisco, CA
Heavy matching black/dark colour Anubis and Bastet by Heather Bailey at Black Heart in San Francisco, CA.
Anubis Mario Farfán Calderón ar
Black/dotwork Anubis head by Mario Farfán Calderón at Blackmoon Custom Tattoo in Mexico.
Anubis Melissa Flattinger Corpsepainter Tattoo and Piercing in Munich, Germany
Realistic black and grey Anubis by Melissa Flattinger at Corpsepainter Tattoo and Piercing in Munich, Germany.
Anubis Meza Cruz in Mexico
Realistic black and grey Anubis head by Meza Cruz in Mexico.
Anubis Miss Poppy in the Netherlands
Neo traditional Anubis head and scarab beetle by Miss Poppy in the Netherlands.
Anubis Ráa Fernandes in Tokyo Japan
Black and grey sketchwork Anubis head by Ráa Fernandes in Tokyo, Japan.
Anubis Shawn Qin Cat Town Tattoo South Korea
American traditional Anubis by Shawn Qin at Cat Town Tattoo in South Korea.
Anubis Yeray Perez in Sitges, Barcelona
Brilliant neo traditional Anubis by Yeray Perez in Sitges, Barcelona.

Which is your favorite?

Geisha Tattoos:

The geisha, or, “person of accomplishment” date back to 1751 in the mid-Tokugawa period in Japan. Geisha’s were originally men, but eventually became women.

geisha Ami James
Deep in thought by Ami James.

Geisha’s were trained artists skilled in tea ceremony, flower arranging, and as singers, dancers, storytellers, servers, and conversationalists. These women were all literate and were familiar with poetry and tales of warriors in order to entertain their patrons. Geisha’s were not prostitutes, but worked in the pleasure districts, also called “the floating world” and while not they were not sex workers, some did become concubines or mistresses for men who would buy their contracts from their masters.

geisha Andrew Mcnally at Northside Private Rooms in Newcastle
Black and grey neo Japanese geisha with cherry blossoms by Andrew Mcnally at Northside Private Rooms in Newcastle, UK.
geisha Anna Yershova
Realistic side/stomach piece with cherry blossoms by Anna Yershova.
geisha Asakusa Horiyasu
Brilliant Japanese back piece by Horiyasu.

Geisha’s are known for their musical prowess, particularly with an instrument called samisen, which today is also used in kabuki plays and has an inherently “Japanese” sound. As for appearance, while working a geisha would wear a kimono tied from the back, which is another difference between a geisha and a prostitute as a prostitute would have her kimono tied in the front. A thick white foundation of makeup is applied to the face, neck, and upper chest, with a line around the hairline creating a mask like appearance. Other makeup includes black around the eyes and eyebrows with bright red lips.

geisha Daniel Gensch
Fantastic neo traditional neck piece also with cherry blossoms, by Daniel Gensch in Berlin, Germany.
geisha Emily Rose Murray
A more Westernized neo traditional geisha by Emily Rose Murray in Melbourne, Australia.
geisha Gakkin
Blackwork Japanese piece of a sly looking geisha by Gakkin in Amsterdam.
geisha Horihana in Brasil
Another traditional Japanese back piece with cherry blossoms, skeleton, and Buddhist imagery by Horihana in Brazil.
Geisha Jarrad Serafino at The Sweet Life Tattoo in Melbourne
Dark American traditional geisha and flower by Jarrad Serafino at The Sweet Life Tattoo in Melbourne, Australia.

Geisha’s still exist today, though due in part to the rigorous training in order to become one, are much less frequent. Today, geisha’s mainly entertain politicians at parties.

geisha Kevin Nocerino at Still Life Tattoo
Neo traditional namakubi or severed head geisha with peony by Kevin Nocerino at Still Life Tattoo.
geisha Mark Wosgerau
Realistic black and grey geisha by Mark Wosgerau at Sinners Inc in Denmark.
geisha Michael Litovkin
Bold mix of black and grey and colour in a realistic style by Michael Litovkin.
geisha Pavel Krim
Soft, colourful, realistic geisha by Pavel Krim in Stockholm.
Geisha Reuben Todd at Kapala tattoo in Winnipeg
American traditional black and red work by Reuben Todd at Kapala Tattoo in Winnipeg.

As a tattoo a geisha will generally be done in Japanese traditional style, neo Japanese, American traditional, neo traditional, black and grey, or realism.

geisha Shon Lindauer in Hollywood
American traditional work by Shon Lindauer in Hollywood.
geisha Thomas Pineiro at Black Garden Tattoo in the UK
Fantastic Japanese piece by Thomas Pineiro at Black Garden Tattoo in the UK.
geisha Tony Nilsson in Norway
Bold American traditional piece by Tony Nilsson in Norway.
geisha Victor Octaviano
Modern watercolor piece by Victor Octaviano in Brazil.
Geisha William Roos in Stockholm
tiny blackwork geisha and hannya by William Roos in Stockholm.
Geisha Zak Partak in Toronto
Geisha head and fan by Zak Partak in Toronto.

Geisha’s are an important part of Japanese history and make a fantastic design!

Winnipeg Artist 4: Sean Cushnie

Sean Cushnie is a talented artist working out of Kapala Tattoo in Winnipeg. His style is both neo traditional and neo Japanese. Sean uses a mix of black and grey with bright colours to make his work pop. Sean’s black and grey work borders on realism while his colour is solid neo traditional, making it not only a mix of colouring, but also mixing style.

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Monkey King!
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Neo Japanese sleeve featuring a hannya, chrysanthemum, and waves.
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Neo traditional black and grey woman with red flowers.
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Another neo traditional woman with skull and flowers.
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Bright red hannya.
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Very royal looking neo traditional woman mixing black and grey and colour.
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Neo Japanese peony flower and snake with vibrant colours.
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Japanese shoulder koi with cherry blossoms and waves.
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Black and grey woman and hannya with red flowers.
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Black and grey religious Sacred Heart.
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Another mix of black and grey and colour with bright orange and red, featuring nature themes.
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Mermaid with skull make of waves.
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Bright neo Japanese dragon sleeve with clouds as background.
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Neo Japanese body panel with a huge tiger.
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One final neo traditional sleeve of Roman warrior and skull.

Sean is a must see Winnipeg artist for your neo trad needs.

Tiger Tattoos:

Tiger’s make a fantastic design and can be done in many different styles including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, American traditional, neo traditional, black and grey, photo realism, dotwork, geometric style, and watercolor.

tiger Adam Guy Hays
Neo traditional scalp tiger done by Adam Guy Hays at Red Rock Tattoo.

Tiger tattoos can also carry many different meanings. When done in an Asian style a tiger represents strength, courage, long life, and are also meant to ward off evil spirits, bad luck, and even disease. When done in a more Western style such as American traditional, black and grey, realism, etc.. the tiger is tattooed for its beauty, power, and intensity.

tiger Adrian Bascur
Watercolor space tiger done by Adrian Bascur in Chile.
tiger Alex Gotza
Huge neo traditional three-eyed tiger head by Alex Gotza done at Dirty Roses Tattoo Studio.
tiger Brian Flores
Beautiful neo traditional tiger head by Brian Flores in Spain.
tiger Sandra Dauksh
Photo realistic tiger head with flowers done by Sandra Daukshta at Home of Tattoos in Latvia.
tiger Mikey Holmes
American traditional tiger fighting a snake done by Mikey Holmes at coast to Coast Tattoo in Charlotte NC.
tiger Stefan Johnsson
Another American traditional tiger fighting a snake done by Stefan Johnsson at California Electric Tattoo Parlor in California.

Tigers are one of the biggest predators in the world, and are a solitary creature, so are often seen as symbols of strength and resilience. Tiger tattoos are often done just as a head, but can also be done as a full body. Generally tiger heads are done in a more Western design, with a full body tiger being done in an Asian style, though both can be done in any style.

tiger Apro Lee Seoul
Korean style blackwork tiger done by Apro Lee in Seoul South Korea.
tiger Eli Ferguson Ichi Tattoo
Japanese tiger done by Eli Ferguson at Ichi Tattoo in Tokyo.
Tiger Sean Cushnie Kapala
Unfinished Japanese backpiece done by Sean Cushnie at Kapala Tattoo in Winnipeg.
tiger Jakob Holst Rasmussen
Realistic black and grey tiger head by Jakob Holst Rasmussen done in Aarhus, Denmark.
tiger Mark Ostein
Geometric dotwork tiger head done by Mark Ostein at Wozen Studio in Lisbon.
Tiger Matt Jordan, Ship Shape Tattoo New Zealand
Realistic full back piece with skulls done by Matt Jordan at Ship Shape Tattoo in New Zealand.

What is your favorite style for a tiger tattoo?

Tattoo History 5: Yakuza and Tattoos

The Yakuza are the main face of organized crime in Japan, and can be traced back to  two different groups samurai/ bandits as early as before the 1600’s. These outlaws were called Kabuki-mono, and wore fantastic costumes and carried long swords at their sides as they terrorized towns. These bandits had extreme loyalty to each other, as do the modern day Yakuza, swearing to protect each other even against their own parents, which was unheard of at this time. While the modern day Yakuza do identify with this aspect of the bandits, they really look back to these samurai’s enemies, the machi-yakko, or servants of the town. These townsmen formed groups to fight off these travelling samurai and defended their homes. These groups were made up of merchants, clerks, shopkeepers, homeless wanderers and stray samurai. These men quickly became folk heroes, seen as honourable outlaws.

ancient tattoo scene
Tattooed Tammeijirô Genshôgo, bare-chested, kneels on a fallen foe, a drawn sword in his hand.(from mid 1800’s)

These men were immortalized in stories and plays that are still popular today. These legends eventually passed down to another group of “chivalrous commoners and honourable outlaws”; Japan’s firemen, police detectives, leaders of labour gangs, sumo wrestlers, and members of Japan’s 18th century crime syndicates. These men formed the first groups of the Yakuza. Much like the Italian Mafia (as it is often compared to), the Yakuza formed families, with a father to child hierarchy.

yakuza family
Full Yakuza family portrait.

Like most cultures, criminals were often tattooed to distinguish them from proper citizens, but tattoos can be traced in Japan as far back as the 3rd century . In Japan, criminals started being tattooed in 1720 in order to identify, punish, and humiliate them. These tattoos were sometimes small lines on the arm,  or a black ring around the arm for each crime, or the more prominent forehead tattoo that was either the Chinese character for “dog” or the character for “evil”. After being tattooed, these criminals would be held for three days so that the tattoos would form properly under the skin and would be unable to pick them out of their skin. These people formed groups, and eventually created a subculture of tattooing, adding to their criminal tattoos, making their own art of defiant pride.

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Different arm tattoos for criminals. (taken from http://www.iromegane.com/japan/culture/history-of-japanese-tattoo/ )
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Criminal head tattoos (from http://www.iromegane.com/japan/culture/history-of-japanese-tattoo/ ) Top left: Inu (犬/ dog) Top right:lines each time they committed a crime Middle:lines on the forehead and the arm Bottom left:tattooed dots Bottom right: tattooed “x” meaning “bad”

Today when someone says Yakuza, people automatically think tattoo. By the late 17th century these tattoos moved away from simple lines or characters, to fluid pieces of flowers, gods, heroes, and animals, often creating full body pieces. Modern day full body pieces can take years to finish, and can cost upward of $50,000. Traditionally these tattoos or “irezumi” would be done with a bone or wood rod that has a cluster of tiny needles at the end. The rod would then be dipped in ink and jabbed repeatedly into the skin, which was very painful, and very slow. This method is still done today in Japan and other parts of the world, but most artists now use machines. Inks would be made by hand, mainly consisting of black, grey, red, and green. Though modern day Japanese tattoos are more colorful. Early red ink was actually toxic, so it would be a mark of strength and resilience to see how much they could endure.

yakuza backs
Full backs of Yakuza members.

Yakuza designs often feature flowers, dragons, tigers, namakubi, and folklore legends such as Chōbei Banzuiin and other warriors.

utagawa kuniyoshi
Chōbei Banzuiin woodblock print done by the famous Utagawa Kuniyoshi from 1845 in the Edo period.

A way to identify former Yakuza members other than their tattoos is if they are missing part of their pinkies. Members would have part of their pinky cut off if they did something wrong during their time, and many had it cut off if they wanted to leave the gang, though some ended off much worse.

kusters odo yakuza tokyo
Tattooed hands with part of a pinky cut off.

Today in Japan tattoos are becoming much more common and less associated with the Yakuza, with new members often even foregoing getting tattoos.

For more information on the Yakuza and on crime and punishment in Japan, read the books “Yakuza : Japan’s Criminal Underworld (1)” by Kaplan, David E., Dubro, Alec, and “Punishment and Power in the Making of Modern Japan” by Botsman, Daniel V.

Goddess Kali Tattoos:

Kali is a Hindu goddess often misconstrued as a goddess of death. While she does bring about the death of the ego and demons, she does not kill humans. She is the counterpart of the more violent deity Shiva the destroyer, both of whom are the destroyers of unreality. Kali is depicted as a woman with a garland of skulls or heads, and dismembered arms, because the ego arises out of identification with the body. She also is usually seen with black or dark blue skin, which symbolizes the womb of which all creation arises and into which all creation will eventually dissolve into. So she is often mistaken as a fearsome deity, she is actually a motherly figure.

As a tattoo Kali is often done in American traditional style, neo-traditional, black and grey, or realism.

kali-aaron-riddle
Neo-traditional Kali by Aaron Riddle at Black Lotus Tattooers in Phoenix, Arizona.
kali-andrew-strychnine
American traditional, less angry Kali by Andrew Strychnine at Redrum Tattoo Collective in Moscow.
kali-dan-molloy
Unfinished black and grey Kali back piece by Dan Molloy in Perth, Australia.
kali-joe-ellis
Mostly black Kali by Joe Ellis at Sacred Electric Custom Tattooing in Leeds, UK.
kali-natalya-litvinenko
Full colourful Kali back piece by Natalia Litvinenko.
kali-philip-yarnell
Dark American traditional Kali head by Philip Yarnell at Skynyard Tattoos, UK.
kali-steven-huie
Full bodied version of Kali by Steven Huie at Flyrite Tattoo.
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Another unfinished Kali back piece by Tom Caine at Holy mountain Tattoo, UK.
kali-andrew-fyfe-at-main-street-tattoo-collectivve
Full rib panel Kali head by Andrew Fyfe at Main Street Tattoo Collective in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
kali-lucy-at-into-you-tattoo-piercing
A much more motherly version of Kali by Lucy Pryor at Into You Tattoo & Piercing in London, UK.

Virgin Mary Tattoos:

In the Christian faith Mary is the mother of Jesus, also called mother of God.

In the story of Christmas Mary is visited by an angel and told she will give birth to the son of God.  Jesus is then born in a barn, amongst animals and wisemen. Throughout the bible Mary is constantly seen at her son’s side during his soteriological journey.

Images of Mary often show her praying, or mourning the death of Jesus, sometimes crying tears of blood. She is also often seen wearing blue, crown of 12 stars, pregnant, or surrounded by roses.

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Crying black and grey Mary and angel by david Drohan at Kingdom of Ink in the UK.

Artists such as Michelangelo and Botticelli, and now, tattoo artists all around the world.

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Neo traditional Mary in mourning by Jacob Gardner from Australia.

In tattoo form Mary is often done in black and grey realism, photo realism, American traditional, or neo traditional.

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Black traditional Mary on the back of a head, done by Chris Stuart at Ace Custom Tattoo.
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Full body black and grey Mary with roses and stars by James Armstrong at Holy Mountain Tattoo in the UK.
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Realistic black and grey praying Mary and Rosary by Seyer at Living Dreams Tattoo.
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Realistic black and grey Mary and dove by Tomas Sanchez Pineiro.
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Black and grey Mary with script on the scalp by Nene.
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American traditional Mary with rose by Kanye Sherwood at Flamin’ Eight in London.
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Dark traditional Mary with Sacred Heart by Philip Yarnell at Skynyard Tattoos, UK.
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Full American traditional back piece of Mary with Christ by Zach Nelligan in Austin, Texas.

Which is your favorite?

Artist of the Month: Carlos Torres

Carlos Torres is a hyper realistic black and grey artist from San Pedro CA. He is almost entirely self taught with 18 years of experience behind him. He is a tattoo artist and a painter who specializes in realism and surrealism.

carlos-1
Angel riding horses in a full back piece.

His work is incredibly detailed and realistic. He creates brilliant original pieces. He has been to numerous tattoo conventions around the world and won the first place black and grey in London. His work has the feeling of a painting come to life, thanks to his experience with oil paintings.

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Chest piece with skeleton, sword swallower, and fire breather.

Carlos has even done head and face tattoos, which can be daunting as it is extremely visible and will be one of the first things people see when looking at his clients.

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Surrealist face.
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Full face with a Mayan style.
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Full leg sleeve of warriors.
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Another brilliant (not quite finished) back piece.
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Lady head and tiger.
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Huge horse with surrealist design within.
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Huge motorcycle on the belly.
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Mayan temple style rib piece.
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Surrealist puppet master.
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Healed full torso piece with Victorian woman, ship, skulls, angels, and surrealist filler.

Which is your favorite piece by Carlos?