…& we’re back with tattoo shops in SF!

After a month-long hiatus (we deserve a summer vacation too!), Metal Ink Crew Musings is back. Enjoy the first of a series of interviews we’ll be doing in San Francisco! Also, don’t forget to rate August Maidens before the month is up! Go to metalinkshop.com to vote today!

One Shot Tattoo
1239 9th Ave
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 731-7468

Jason Storey at One Shot Tattoo

Jason Storey at One Shot Tattoo

Jason Storey
Tattoo Artist

MI: How did you get started tattooing, and who are your influences?

Jason: One of my personal favorite artists and heroes is named Rick Griffin. He did comics for surfer magazines. He also designed some of the rock and roll posters in the 60s, album covers for The Grateful Dead. I grew up reading comics—I read the standard superhero comics, but I also read underground comics. My parents were hippies so I had hippy stuff around the house. So I was influenced by that early on. Another influence is Asian art. I went to UC Santa Cruz and did a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts there. I did some study of Asian art and also pursued my own art. I think that and being involved in martial arts when I was younger is where the influence came from. As I got further in tattooing I got more into Asian art, and as I was able to study Asian art and Japanese art that became more of an influence.

MI: Tell us more about Japanese art. Can you give us an overview of the history of how it impacted tattooing?

Jason: I did some serious study of Japanese art, prints from the 19th century, the 1800s, and the artists that worked in that style and at that time. What we know of as Japanese tattooing with full body coverage and the kind of thing that most people identify as Japanese tattooing today really started in 18th century Tokyo, in the Edo period, with the Ukiyo-e print movement.

Jason with his lovely wife

Jason with his lovely wife

MI: Can you explain what Ukiyo-e is?

Jason: It translates as “pictures of the floating world.” Floating world refers to the ephemeral fleeting world of leisure enjoyed by the middle class at that time. During that period, the merchant class became wealthy and because it was one of the most peaceful periods in history, the samurai fell into disuse. So they became troublemakers and started to see a decline in wealth and status, and at the same time, the merchant classes became more and more wealthy.

MI: They were the ones consuming the literature, right?

Jason: Yes, the merchant class was, and before that only the upper classes were able to purchase the art because it was expensive. So it was becoming more widely accessibly, and also print-making made it more accessible.

MI: It was a new media outlet, like the internet is today.

Jason: So at that time there was a series of stories that were popular in China and that became popular in Japan—Suikodens—and there were a few series of prints that were based on these stories. The prints depicted warriors from the stories as being tattooed. The prints and the stories became popular and so people decided—in particular working class people, palanquin bearers and firemen and carpenters—that they would emulate the heroes form these tales. They would usually get tattoos of the prints of their favorite heroes.

MI: That’s fascinating!

Fisherman's wife getting ravaged by an octopus

Fisherman's wife getting ravaged by an octopus

Jason: So that was the foundation of Japanese tattooing as far as the styles that we know it today. Before that, tattooing was used as a form of punishment.

MI: Basically it’s like celebrity culture, isn’t it?

Jason: People are influenced by media, very similar to what’s going on today. I once heard a lecture given by a woman named Rebecca Psalter, and the topic was the links between Japanese tattooing and Japanese print-making. She likened kabuki heroes and actors to popular media figure today. For example, she talked about woodblock prints of the most popular actors of the time and how fans would buy the prints and put them up in their homes. It’s just the same as people putting up a poster of Brad Pitt or someone on the cover of People magazine.

MI: Well, it’s more teenage girls than anyone else who would put up a poster of a celebrity, but still, I see the similarities.

Jason: That’s how Japanese tattooing started, and not too long after it became popular, Japan became open to the west—or rather, Admiral Perry forced it open. When that happened, Japan become nervous that Westerners would look down on tattooing as barbaric, and so they outlawed it. Then when it became outlawed, it became more and more popular with outlaws, with yakuza and such. There were punishments associated with getting tattooed, so you had to be willing to risk punishment to get the tattoos.

MI: How do you interpret Japanese tattoo art?

Jason: I don’t claim to be an expert. I studied it as much as possible but there are a good number of people who have access to and have spend time with Japanese tattoo master and they’re going to get really undiluted information. You would get the actual information about how to apply all that to actual tattooing if you studied under a master. Some of the best Japanese tattoo artists in the western hemisphere are here in San Francisco. It’s also really popular right now.

SF hipsterdom: Hokusai & sprocket

SF hipsterdom: Hokusai & sprocket

MI: Would you say that Japanese tattoos are the most popular right now?

Jason: It’s up there because of the tv shows and it’s a beautiful style of tattooing for larger style work. A little side note—

MI: Sure!

Jason: You know how the tramp stamp used to be popular? Right now it’s ribs. I do side panels on young girls constantly.

Client (who’s getting worked on by Jason): I was just at Starbucks and I saw a girl with a peacock feather wrapping up her ribs.

MI: I’ve heard the phrase a lot, “Go big or go home.” Actually I think I heard our first Maiden of the Month, Radeo, use that phrase.

Jason: Yeah that’s the tv shows, and it’s great, it’s beautiful, it’s good for the business, etc.

Client: I saw a guy who was 6’9” built like a gorilla, just all muscles and ripped. And on his bicep, in the middle of all this muscle and veins, he had this one little outline of a star, like the kind you got in grade school. It said to me, “I can have any tattoo I want, and, look at my muscle.”

All: *Laugh*

MI: And I bet it made his muscle look even bigger.

3 Responses to “…& we’re back with tattoo shops in SF!”

  1. Hey !, You have a nice blog I going to bookmark you! Please visit my tattoo blog best tattoo design
    and best tattoo flash design

  2. フレッド Says:

    nice interview. i’ve got a lot of work by jason done on me. he’s a great guy and a great artist.

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