Artist of the Month: Duncan X

Duncan X is a old school artist whose inspiration comes from early photographs of old school tattoos. These photographs are of course all in black and white, so the tattoos appear black even if they were colourful. This led to Duncan tattooing in only black.

Bold anchor and rope.
Lock and chain.

He is one of the most popular artists in London, and he works out of Old Habits Tattoo shop.

Filler rib piece.
Lines and lines on a portrait tattoo.

Duncan was born and raised in London in the 60’s and was introduced to tattoos through the punk scene. Artist Dennis Cockell taught him tattooing and helped him shape his unique style.

Black work castle.
Full sleeve done by Duncan X.

While Duncan uses mainly old school motifs for his source of inspiration, his style resembles medieval wood carvings and is distinctly working class.

Foxes on feet.
An evil and beautiful looking crow.

To learn more about Duncan and see his own tattoos watch David Penn’s short film here.

Another back done by Duncan X.
Torso in progress.

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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!

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.

Artist of the Month: Nissaco

Nissaco is a tattoo artist based in Shinsaibashi Osaka at an unnamed private studio that goes by the name room_23_26 on Instagram.

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Smaller scale pieces. Healed waves and fresh geometrical shell design.

Nissaco does mainly large scale pieces such as full sleeves, back pieces, and even body suits. His style is black geometrical work and it is extremely detailed.

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Big and painful back of the leg going right over the knee ditch with some popping red in the mandala and linework designs.
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Full back piece right over the butt and legs leading into a great sleeve on the left arm. Some great use of negative space in the back.
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Fantastic sleeve with bird skull and eye mixed with geometrical designs.

His work is hard sought after with visitors going to see him from all around the world. Along with having clients from around the world, he also travels, going to various tattoo conventions. Most recent he will be at the 13th London Tattoo convention in September 2017.

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Filler neck/throat piece that fits great with the adjacent neck pieces.
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Matching geometric sleeves.
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Full back and legs with a lot of heavy blackwork for filler.
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Full front is a tender area going right onto the nipples, with brilliant line work and heavy blacks.
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Brilliant full torso, sleeve, and two leg sleeves with geometric designs and a hidden face.
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Half body suit full of heavy blacks in large scale geometrics.
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Fantastic intricate healed geometric design.

Along with being geometrical in design, Nissaco’s work also often features classic Japanese elements such as dragons, waves, flowers, snakes, koi fish, and hannya masks. These pieces are almost entirely black, but occasionally feature a small amount of red to make them really pop.

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Full front, sleeve, and half leg sleeve. Featuring a brilliant Japanese dragon, and flowers such as chrysanthemums and cherry blossoms.
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Great geometric koi fish with some colour thrown in.
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Heavy blacks and lots of negative space with this angry hannya.
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Another hannya coming off of a sleeve and onto the back.

Nissaco is a must see artist in Osaka, Japan, but book well in advance as his books fill up fast!

Studio Ghibli Tattoos

Studio Ghibli is often called the Disney of Japan, and Hayao Miyazaki the Walt Disney of Japan. Studio Ghibli is the most well known Japanese film studio, having won many awards over the years.

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Brilliant full sleeve of Ghibli characters from some of the most famous Ghibli movies. Done by Andy Kurth at Electric Chair Tattoo.

Studio Ghibli was officially founded in 1985 after the success of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, which came out in 1984. The character of Totoro from My Neighbor Totoro is the company’s mascot, but the company’s most popular film is Spirited Away, which has won multiple awards such as a Golden Bear, and an Academy Award.

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Totoro done in watercolour style all by Anton YellowDog at Mad Fish Tattoo in Moscow.

The company is most associated with award winning director Hayao Miyazaki, but the company also has other talented directors such as Isao Takahata, Yoshifumi Kondo, Hiroyuki Morita, Gorō Miyazaki, and Hiromasa Yonebayashi.

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Forest spirit from Princess Mononoke by Adam Machin at Three Kings Tattoo.
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Neo-traditional Princess Mononoke by Juan David Castro Ramos.

The film company has many amazing movies, with brilliant characters that have captured the hearts of fans all over the world. Fans around the world have immortalized Ghibli characters on their skin with the help of some amazing tattoo artists.

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Sketch style Haku in dragon form by Caro at Utopian Tattoo Tribe in Ireland.
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Haku and No Face from Spirited Away by Russel Van Schaick in Florida.
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Realistic No Face from Spirited Away with background, by Jes-Tay at Keys on Kites Tattoo and Gallery.
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Dotwork No Face from Spirited Away by Goldie Bold in Istanbul.
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Howl’s Moving Castle and other characters by Athena Chan at Solo Tattoo in Hong Kong.
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Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle by Victoria Kurtz at Bananafish Tattoo Parlour.
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Giant guardian from Castle In The Sky, by Kalatu at Gristle Tattoo in NYC.
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Bright little Kiki from Kiki’s Delivery Service, by Tiggy Tuppence at Briar Rose Tattoo in London.
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Dotwork and blackwork designs from Grave of the Fireflies by Fabian Pedroza at Good Fortune Tattoo.

What is your favorite Ghibli movie?

Winnipeg Artists 2: Reuben Todd

Reuben is a tattoo artist working out of Kapala Tattoo in Winnipeg. His main styles are American traditional and Japanese. Along with tattooing, Reuben also paints; mainly Japanese inspired images.

Reuben has years of experience under his belt and is a pleasure to be tattooed by. Even while tattooing my stomach which is quite a tender area, he was able to take my mind off the pain with conversation.

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My own blackwork American traditional stomach piece.
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Blackwork American traditional clasped hands and dagger with flowers.
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Peter Pan inspired piece with pan flute and script.
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Blue traditional rose.
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Matching knee ditch Halloween pieces. A witch and Casper the friendly ghost.

Reuben has been doing larger pieces recently including half and full sleeves. His American traditional pieces are reminiscent of the old days, but have a twist of newer style, particularly while tattooing lady heads.

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Ladyhead with apple and different coloured eyes based on his clients photo.
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Large healed ladyhead with new traditional wolf below.

His Japanese work is bold, often featuring waves or flowers, which really make the main center piece of the tattoo pop. His Japanese work is generally done large in a arm or leg sleeve.

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Japanese dragon 3/4 sleeve with fire.
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Full Japanese leg sleeve with koi, waves, and leaves.
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Japanese snake sleeve with waves.

Reuben is a must see artist for your traditional or Japanese tattoo needs.

Monkey King Tattoo

The Monkey King is a Chinese story based on a real monk who walked on foot from China to what is now India to recover the true Buddhist holy books. When he returned to China he translated the Sutras into Chinese, contributing to the development of Buddhism in China.

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Monkey King full sleeve by James Acrow at Slow Down tattoo in Vancouver.

Monkey king is the story of this monk, mixed with Chinese legends, fairy tales, supernatural stories, and popular beliefs. Monkey King is a rebellious being, born out of rock that was fertilized by the grace of Heaven and Earth. He is very intelligent and has magical powers learned from a Taoist master. He can transform himself into different beings such as trees, birds, beasts, and insects. He can travel by riding on a cloud, and can shrink or grow by using a metal rod he steals from the Dragon King after fighting him in the ocean. The Monkey King is a mischievous character who fights many battles, travels to heaven, and comes back to earth. He is trapped under a mountain for 500 years, and after being freed, must travel with the monk to ensure his safety on his journey West to the Sutras, accompanied by a pig, a sea monster, and a horse.

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Monkey King Sleeve by Adam Sky at Rose Gold’s Tattoo in San Francisco. 
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Amazing black and grey back piece done at Chronic Ink tattoo.
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Realistic Monkey King done at Chronic Ink tattoo.
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Incredibly detailed sleeve done at Chronic Ink tattoo.
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Half sleeve Monkey king done at Chronic Ink tattoo.
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Half sleeve Monkey king done at Chronic Ink tattoo.

There are various versions of the Monkey King story, and all are very interesting and amusing.

Artist of the Month: Horiyoshi III

Horiyoshi the third (Nakano Yoshihito) is a tattoo artist from the Yokohama area of Japan. He is a legend to many in the tattoo world, as well as an intelligent, thoughtful, and charming man.

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Horiyoshi III with sword.

His interest in the art of tattoos first started when he was 11 years old after seeing a tattooed man at the public bath, and developed further when as a high school student he found a book with illustrations and engravings of tattooed men.

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A young Horiyoshi III showing off his tattoos.

At age 22 he got his first tattoo, a full back piece, from the great Horiyoshi II. He later became a pupil under Horiyoshi II at age 25, as he needed to learn more about the art in order to become a tattoo artist.

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Tattooing with a machine.

Horiyoshi III is not only an amazing artist, but has a full body suit done in traditional Japanese style, which took 12-13 years to complete. His tattooing is also large scale pieces, often full body suits, back pieces, or leg or arm sleeves.

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Body suits, finished, and unfinished.

Irezumi, or traditional Japanese tattoos are often associated with the yakuza (Japanese mafia), because members used to have intricate body suits to show their status. Horiyoshi III used to tattoo many yakuza members, back when tattooing was much less common than it is now, but says about 10% of his clients are still yakuza members. Yakuza members have actually started lasering off their tattoos, or hiding them more, as well as not encouraging new members to get visible pieces, because it is such an easy way to identify someone. Instead, Japan is slowly moving towards tattoos being more accepted and about the art again.

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Full torso irezumi.

Horiyoshi III originally learned tattooing with the tebori method, or “tebori you no nomi”, which means “the hand digging tool”. This is a tool that is shaped like a stick, with needle points at the end, which is then dipped into ink, and jabbed repeatedly into the skin. It is a much slower way of tattooing than the modern machine now, but can still create intricate and detailed pieces of art. Horiyoshi III is also skilled with the tattoo machine, which he learned how to use later in life.

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Tebori tool refined by Horiyoshi III.

Horiyoshi III says there are four steps to the perfect tattoo. The drawing, outlining, shading, and finally colour. He then compares these steps to life. He says outlining is like planning your life, clarifying your ideas. That tattooing can be compared to life because every needle stroke counts, just like every second counts. That every line must be done with care, that life must be cherished.

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Bright and colourful full body suits.
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Suits like these can take hundreds of hours, and years to complete.

What is your favorite Horiyoshi III tattoo?