I was floored by this news, as we see very few Japanese females tattooing in the US let alone owning a shop. The traditions of Japanese masters are very much like the rest of the world, quite patriarchal and very closed to the ambitions of junior artists. Truly, Kanae was invited by SoHo House to give a talk on Japanese tattooing which she declined, citing her lack of experience in relation to her masters in Japan. I'm hoping this will change in the future, as more and more Asian girls assume their rightful roles in active tattoo culture (their images are everywhere in tattooing, they might as well make the money, too).
In Shanghai a week later, My friend Fiona introduced me to Yu Tattoo, a thriving operation with multiple locations that employs almost as many tattoo girls as tattoo boys. So pass the saimin sister, 'cause times, they are a changing.
This white tattoo was born over six years ago in London and has endured some of the world's most intense sun...places like Dubai, Bermuda and Nigeria (just to name a few):
To all the haters who still pout about the legitimacy of the mighty white tattoo, we lovingly say "Suck it!"
If you follow my socmed you know that I was all up in Personal Ink's twelve-city 10.10 event to cover mastectomy scars this past Friday. While it was an absolutely invigorating, exciting experience to work with a national network of organizers to perform what something neither the AMA nor the tattoo industry have ever accomplished (that is the bringing together on a grand scale mastectomy scars with people who are actually qualified to re-invision post-operative scarring) I could not help but be subdued by the underlying gravitas of the work.
Tattooing has been traditionally the visual church of those with little left to lose. For the soldier shipping off to war, the prisoner barely seeing the light of day, the tattoo was that last swing from the microcosm of What Matters...mom...baby...the unconditional love of the Red Nose we'll never see again. These are a few of our favorite things.
Mastectomy patients are not generally people who were inclined in their former life to reach out to tattoo for their self-expression. However in their new life as survivors --as warriors who have faced down fear, hairless chemotherapy and mutilation --they come to us with ready chests to be decorated with the rewards of their passion for life. Medals of Phoenix, flowers, dramatic flourishes and yes, even cats. These are people who are unafraid to bare all. However it is we see them, like any tattooed warrior, the mirror that once held their savage history now shows them their preciously personalized future.
Banner photo of ALex McCord and Friday Jones courtesy of Eddie Garou ©2012