Artist of the month: Samuel Christensen

Samuel is a German artist who has been tattooing since 2008. He has tattooed in Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Thailand. New Zealand was where he cemented his interest in Maori/Polynesian tattooing, which is what he mainly does now.

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Full bodysuit, including hands and feet. Lots of blackwork is incorporated into this Polynesian style suit.
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A front angle of the same suit.
B23
Dotwork style forearm piece.
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Dotwork/mandala full back piece and 1/4 sleeves.
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Polynesian neck piece makes for a bold design.
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Half sleeve including the chest, with traditional Polynesian folklore faces.

Samuel is drawn to the thick bold lines and black work of Polynesian tattoos, and the possibility of creating full bodysuits in this style. Along with Polynesian work, Samuel also does dotwork and blackwork pieces, including lots of mandalas and henna inspired pieces.

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Bold hand designs with some blast over work above.
B29
Full sleeve, heavy on the black!
B30
3/4 sleeve, right up onto the shoulder.
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Polynesian sleeve with some dotwork mixed in.
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Full leg sleeve.

Most of Samuel’s work is large, half or full sleeves, back pieces, and even full bodysuits. Though he will do some smaller designs, mainly mandalas.

B20
3/4 sleeve in Polynesian style.
B41
Half sleeve with some dotwork up top and into the chest.
B48
Full leg sleeve, top fresh bottom healed.
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Stand alone mandala.
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Incomplete 3/4 sleeve including the armpit.

Samuel works out of his studio in Ravensburg, Germany.

B21
Intricate finger designs.
B55
Mandala dotwork sleeve.
B57
Geometric back piece.
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Mandala sleeve.
Sudsee46
Beautiful blackwork/dotwork back piece.

Artist of the month: Gakkin

Gakkin is a (mainly) blackwork and freehand artist working out of Amsterdam after first working in Kyoto.

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Blackwork raven across the back of the neck.
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Large octopus sleeve and chest piece.
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Bodysuit featuring birds, flowers, wind, and clouds.
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Huge snake torso piece.

His pieces are all large scale. Full sleeves, large torso pieces, back pieces, and bodysuits.

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Gruesome namakubi (severed head), with hair that flows into an almost cloudlike state.
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Massive crane back piece with clouds, waves, and koi.
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Negative space stomach hannya as part of a full bodysuit of mainly solid black.
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Red flowers on heavy black leg sleeve, with white spider web.

He collaborates often now with another Japanese blackwork artist, Nissaco. The two work well together, and their pieces flow seamlessly into each other.

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Bright flowers within a dark backdrop.
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Chrysanthemum with Japanese noh mask.
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Back of a bodysuit featuring negative space geometric designs.
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Beautiful blackwork moon and cloud back piece.

His work is largely inspired by nature. Everything from wind, water, flowers, mountains, the sun, and the moon, and animals.

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Large brushstroke style.
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Geometric, blackwork sleeve.
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Large chrysanthemum as part of a sleeve.

Gakkin also takes direct inspiration from ancient Japanese painters, adding his own interpretations.

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Waves and wind in these nature sleeves.
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Part of a bodysuit featuring wind and waves.
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Bright red flowers on heavy black.

Though he mainly works with black, he does also add splashes of red to draw the eye. In an interview with Tattoo Life, he said about working with black “I believe that black is the most important color in tattooing. Every ancient tattooing culture – Maori, Japanese, and Polynesian – considers it as such. It just works better than any other color on the skin.” (www.tattoolife.com)

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kuchisake-onna ghost, from stories dating back to the Edo period.
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Tsuchigumo, the Japanese spider demon.
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Collaboration piece done with Nissaco at the London tattoo convention 2017.

Which piece is your favourite?

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.

1
Black and grey baby portrait.
2
Realistic elephant half sleeve.
3
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.

4
Black and grey Asian leg sleeve featuring Fu Dog, peony, and great wall of China.
5
Bio mechanical/ripped skin/ realism back piece!
6
Bright dragon and flower half sleeve.
16
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.

7
Full black and grey realistic sleeve with monster, lightning, waves, etc.
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Ting doing her thing, tattooing a painful chest piece!
8
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!

10
Black and grey Monkey King half sleeve.
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Realistic color eye.
12
Brilliant Japanese style peony flower.
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Realistic Japanese/Chinese style dragon sleeve.
14
Realistic portrait.
15
Terrifying zombie clown portrait.

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

Winnipeg Artist 6: Shawn Beatty

Shawn Beatty is a tattoo artist working out of Soul Survivors Body Art in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Shawn is a talented artist who works in several styles; including American traditional, black and grey, realism, blackwork, new school, neo traditional, and some Japanese.

1
Disney’s Cinderella and quote.
2
Badass grim reaper.
3
Neo traditional flower and snake.
4
Black and grey surrealist death moth.
5
Black and grey realistic/neo traditional sleeve featuring a demonic version of V from v for vendetta, a bird, snake, and caged heart.
6
Black and grey neo traditional fortune teller and tarot card.
7
Black and grey compass with arrow and biblical quote.
8
Bright new school Sailor Moon piece.
9
Canadian Eddie from Iron Maiden!
10
Realistic black and grey tiger with skull and quote.
11
Japanese tiger and flower cover up.
12
Knight inspired armour full sleeve. Looks like the real deal!
13
Red crescent moon and skull.
14
Neo traditional leopard headdress piece.
15
Simpsons pig and donut, anti fascist piece!
16
Lego leg piece tearing through the skin.
17
David Bowie astronaut piece inspired by the song Heroes.

Shawn Beatty is a must see artist if you’re in Winnipeg!

Artist of the Month: James Mckenna

James Mckenna is an artist at Foothills Tattoo Byford – Western Australia. James is a painter as well as a tattoo artist, with a focus on surreal and horror themed pieces, mixing American traditional and neo traditional styles.

1
Multiple skulls as a gap filler.
2
Elbow ditch surrealist skull hidden within spider webs.
3
Vicious demon above a skull and snake piece.
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Leopard within a leopard within a leopard.
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Traditional elbow mandala.

The majority of James’ work features skulls, often hidden within designs. Other work includes lady heads, animals, and demons.

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Neo traditional lady head.
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Leg sleeve castle with secret passages and a snake mixed in.
8
Big ole’ jaguar, scorpion, and flower. Heavy on the black!
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Skull added to the stomach piece!
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Neo traditional bear and skull in a tender spot!
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Healed blackwork snake within a snake!
11
Leg snake!
12
Evil looking demon under the armpit.
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Butterfly lady head!
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New twist on a classic skull and snake.
15
Jaguar and lady head.
17
Knee big cat and butterfly.

James is a must see artist if you’re travelling through Western Australia.

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.

Nissaco 1
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.

Nissaco 2
Big and painful back of the leg going right over the knee ditch with some popping red in the mandala and linework designs.
Nissaco 3
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.
Nissaco 4
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.

Nissaco 5
Filler neck/throat piece that fits great with the adjacent neck pieces.
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Matching geometric sleeves.
Nissaco 8
Full back and legs with a lot of heavy blackwork for filler.
Nissaco 9
Full front is a tender area going right onto the nipples, with brilliant line work and heavy blacks.
Nissaco 12
Brilliant full torso, sleeve, and two leg sleeves with geometric designs and a hidden face.
Nissaco 13
Half body suit full of heavy blacks in large scale geometrics.
Nissaco 15
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.

Nissaco 6
Full front, sleeve, and half leg sleeve. Featuring a brilliant Japanese dragon, and flowers such as chrysanthemums and cherry blossoms.
Nissaco 10
Great geometric koi fish with some colour thrown in.
Nissaco 11
Heavy blacks and lots of negative space with this angry hannya.
Nissaco 14
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!

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?