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Lockdown Paintings

January, 2021

And so the rollercoaster that has been the last 10 months continues, and Snake and Tiger has had to close once again. I’m not one for taking it too easy though, so I’ve been using my enforced time off productively as possible.

Productivity in action!

Painting for myself is something that I rarely (if ever) have time to do. So there are some silver linings in being forced to take time off!

Here are some traditional Japanese half sleeves with chest panels I’ve done over lockdown. Whilst I’ve always had Japanese sleeve tattoos in my portfolio, seeing examples painted out flat on paper can also be helpful for customer when it comes to deciding on a design.

Many of them are matching pairs. I painted them in a traditional colour palette – black, vermillion (known as shu in Japanese) and brown. These were the first colour palettes used by early Japanese tattooists. At that time no other colours were available and find the limitation of the colour palette quite powerful looking – in many ways it makes the designs look even more authentically Japanese.

Close-up of the sleeve featuring Baku (the dream eater)

It’s no exaggeration to say that the Japanese are sticklers for tradition – tattooing is just one area in which progress and modern techniques complement the traditional, rather than leaving it behind. I was recently reading about the man behind the TSUJIRI, a 155-year old Japanese tea house chain who put a modern spin on ancient matcha tea ceremonies. Mrn Tsuji was renowned for his spirit of “YUWA”, meaning “continue to innovate and sustain the tradition”. I think this idea perfectly sums up what I try to do with my paintings. I will leave you with a quote that explains my thoughts on the matter even better than I can!

“I think tattooing should progress in a way that doesn’t diverge too much from tradition. However, in order for that to happen, you need to know about tradition. Even if you claim individuality, if you don’t know about tradition, the quality will degrade.”

Horitoshi I
Feel free to come and see the finished and framed paintings in the shop as soon as we’re allowed to reopen!