I’ve met Yutaro through his talented wife Claudia DeSabe, an old friend of mine. He is a very talented and humble tattooer, now working in London at the Seven Doors Tattoo. He has been tattooing in the US before and I really like his style, taking the direction of classic tattooing. This guy is really full of energy. Here is his answers to my questions… Enjoy!
When and how did you get started in tattooing?
I did my first tattoo in 1995 in Japan. I don’t want to go into detail but I borrowed my friends tattoo machines and tattooed friends of mine and myself. I move to California in 1996 and got an apprenticeship at HB tattoo in Orange County California and after one year of apprenticeship, I start tattooing professionally.
How long did it take to get the first proper results?
I honesty don’t remember. I feel that I am still progressing and wanting to improve to reach even better results… so it’s been taking 22 years and I know that I can make more progress.
Do you consider painting a part of your learning process? Tell me about your drawing and painting routine…
Yes I really think painting is very important part of my tattooing. Up until two years ago, I was painting stuff has nothing to do with tattooing. But spending time with Ichibay and Horihiro from threetides tattoo in Japan, completely changed my mind. As soon as I started to paint more tattoo motives, I started to feel more improvement in tattooing. By exploring tattoo design in painting, I am able to organize my ideas and inspirations towards tattooing further. I try to paint as much as possible when time allows me to.
I have been painting Japanese back piece painting to work out many different ideas and inspire people to get lager work. I also paint loosely with sumi on japanese paper to practice looseness and spontaneous inspirations.
Before tattooing were you involved in any subculture (such as punk , dark, metal, rock and roll, or rap)?
I grew up with listening thrash metal music since I was 11-12. I remember I first saw tattoo on picture was misfits tattoo on Cliff Burton from Metallica. I had poster of him in my room.
Later I got into American motorbike culture and start seen tattoos on biker magazine. Growing up in Japan, I did not see any traditional Japanese tattoo unfortunately because they are so hidden.
If you have to pick three tattoo artists that inspire your work who would you mention and why?
There are so many people who have been inspiring me and taking care of me that I am not able to only mention three.
From when you started, how has the business evolved in your country?
Japan has been hurting so much in tattooing industry due of unorganized health law. America has exploded since television and social media got involved with business. It is completely different industry compare to ‘96. I feel that people in America enjoys custom tattooing. I am still learning about tattoo industry in England.
Machines (rotary or coil),Tebori (hand tools), or both? What’s your choice? Why?
I use coil for outline and rotary for shading. I like feeling of coil which have more power, and I can use it like paint brush. I like rotary for shading and coloring because it feels like I can deliver the ink deeper to have maximum saturation. I have been practicing tebori on friends and I am going to try more and to be able to have choice either tebori and machines.
Can you list a top five of your favorite visual Artists of all eras? What is attractive of their work in your opinion.
1. Hieronymus Bosch and Gustav Klimt: their work makes me feel so dreamy and been in different dimensions. I really like that.
2. Utagawa Family, Tachikawa Ryu: their very powerful style makes me feel strong and that inspires me a lot.
3. Hokusai Katsushik: incredible creativity and composition. So many different ideas to express drawing and painting. Always inspiring to see.
4. Kano School: epic proportions of works and many powerful and beautiful artists. Super progressive and classic at same time. Inspires me at all time.
5. Jakuchu Ito: in my mind, he has painted in unconditional love states. His works represent universe. Panting in universal states of unconditional love is my ultimate goal.
How do you feel about the “ban” of tattooing in Japan?
It needs to be changed. It is very unfortunate that Japan does not have law to organize actual cultural practices. There are so many young talents from Japan and there is no customer getting tattoos to express their art. This will be disaster for so many up coming young generations of Japanese tattoo artist who grew up in the soil of classical culture. I hope Japanese society to wake up and save our own culture which so many people in the world alteady appreciate and enjoy.
What’s the most challenging subject for you and why?
All Japanese subjects are challenging to me. Because their origin and own history of the design makes application as tattoo design very deep. It’s so simple there for complicated.