Masters Of Ink: Radical Black Ink Tattoos By Exiled Japanese Artist Gakkin

Masters of Ink is a Konbini original introducing you to a whole spectrum of tattoo artists from all over the world. Custom designers specializing in every style from modern dotwork to traditional Americana tattoos – tune in for something new every week!Traditions and labels are two concepts easily overused in the public’s perception of tattoo art. Yet, many contemporary artists are happy to free themselves from these constraints, and Gakkin certainly stands out of the crowd.

With 20 years of experience in tattoo studios of Osaka and Kyoto under his belt, Gakkin is able to escape any kind of classification. Despite extensively using black ink in his work, he feels no affiliation with the blackwork style and disregards it as “too trendy.” Gakkin’s cultural heritage as a Japanese tattoo artist does not what defines him either.When Gakkin started tattooing, he was attracted by bright colors, but quickly noticed they were not standing the test of time. He tells

“I don’t know if my technique was bad or if it was the ink I used, but I remember being so disappointed at the time. So, I threw away all my colored inks, except red, and started focusing on black only. Black stays almost forever on the skin.”

With this in mind, the artist started exploring the aesthetics of tribal tattooing. Gakkin was fascinated by the brutal purity of large, freehand pieces focusing on their ornamental and emotional impact. However, he doesn’t want to impose meaning on his art and prefers if his clients discover their own truths in his work. Gakkin’s contemporary artistic vision has certainly collided with Japanese government’s stance on tattooing, so the artist has chosen to exile himself to Amsterdam where he can focus on his work instead of battling the authorities. Despite being sad about it, he is also strong-willed:

“That’s a very silly problem. Some of my friends were arrested about two years ago because they didn’t have medical licenses. I don’t know how this problem will solve itself but I hope it will get better.
If I go back to Japan in the future, of course I will go on working as a tattoo artist, even if it means that I will be a criminal. I will work where I want to live!”

Consequently, his plans are to continue exploring the power of black ink with large-scale works. Gakkin states: “I want to design bodies no one has ever seen before! I believe that this style will be one of the most important artistic styles of history in 50 years.”

Follow Gakkin on Instagram and see more of his work below.


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