Gakkin is a (mainly) blackwork and freehand artist working out of Amsterdam after first working in Kyoto.
His pieces are all large scale. Full sleeves, large torso pieces, back pieces, and bodysuits.
He collaborates often now with another Japanese blackwork artist, Nissaco. The two work well together, and their pieces flow seamlessly into each other.
His work is largely inspired by nature. Everything from wind, water, flowers, mountains, the sun, and the moon, and animals.
Gakkin also takes direct inspiration from ancient Japanese painters, adding his own interpretations.
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)
Hannya tattoos are an intimidating Japanese design based off masks that date back to Japanese Noh and Bunraku plays from the 14th century. These plays often dealt with the supernatural. These masks were carved from wood and were used to show a character’s state of mind, which from these masks was usually anger, hatred, and sadness. The Hannya in particular represents a woman betrayed by love who is then filled with hate, jealousy, and sadness, turning her into a demon. This image is also a popular design for good luck, as the terrifying demon is supposed to ward off evil spirits.
The Hannya is supposed to show different emotions based on how you’re looking at it. From the front it is supposed to look menacing and full of hatred, but from an angle from the top, it is supposed to appear full of sadness. These mixed emotions are meant to reflect the complexities of humans.
Hannya tattoos are obviously a Japanese design, but don’t necessarily have to be done in the typical Japanese style for tattooing. While the majority are done in Japanese style, they can also be done in a more American Traditional style, neo traditional, or new school design.
Hannya’s are also typically done in a fairly large design. They are often done as a full back piece, or on the stomach, or as part of a full sleeve. They can be done as a smaller tattoo as well, such as on the hand or as a stand alone arm or leg piece.
The Hannya is also often paired with other Japanese designs, such as snakes, warriors, waves, flowers, or dragons, which all have their own meanings and their own roots in Japanese culture.
The colour of a Hannya changes the meaning as well. It is said that the deeper the colour, the more malicious the demon is supposed to be.