Tattoos in Japanese culture are still considered a taboo. Even today in some places , such as onsen or gym, having a tattoo is forbidden. However we notice more and more Japanese people having them and it piqued our interest. What do tattoos represent to them? Why do people decide to get tattoos?
We met with a tattoo artist MII (MIIINK) to get some answers as well as to learn about her and how is it to be a female in a profession that is dominated by men.
1) What is a tattoo in your opinion, is it a symbol, ornament or something more?
Actually a bit of all. It has a lot of meanings. It is a tool to express interests, ideas and style. It is part of ones life.
2) Why have you decided to become a tattoo artist?
While attending a designing school I became very interested in pattern design. Then I started going out to listen to my favourite bands. Artists there had the most amazing tattoos so I decided to get one. I got my first tattoo and immediately ask if I could learn how to make tattoos, too. That is how it started, from fabric patterns to skin patterns designs.
3) What is the most difficult in making tattoos?
I would rather say the most challenging, is to help a customer make a final decision on a type, design and place of a tattoo. Tattoos are a permanent art. They become a part of ones body. That is why it is very important to choose for it wisely.
4) Does the fact that you are a woman change anything?
It actually does, but in a positive way. Nowadays, more and more women decide on tattoos and they feel more comfortable with a female tattoo artist. Moreover, tattoos designs became more gentle so females are better suited to make such designs, I think.
5) How is it to be a tattoo artist in Japan?
There is no right answer to this question. The art of tattooing in Japan is still historically associated with Yakuza groups. But that is changing thanks to the western culture. All I would like is for tattoos to become more and more popular and to be seen as an art.
6) Who are the people that come to get a tattoo?
People connected to art industry, designers, people who are not shy to make a statement. The ratio of men and women is about the same, with the difference that men prefer more substantial sizes.
7) What is the meaning of your own tattoos?
They represent milestones in my life, like starting working independently or moving to a new place.
8) Where do you take your inspirations from?
People are my inspiration, what they wear, how they talk and the atmosphere around them. I really like looking at people around me.
9) What is your life motto?
Stay honest, do your best and be real.
10) What are the things you cannot live without?
I cannot imagine life without love. Love means interaction with people around me and Iget inspired by it.
Photographed by Katsuyoshi Komatsu
Translated by Natsumi