Archive for Japanese tattooing

Jason Greenfield @ 723 Tattoo

Posted in Tattoo Artist Interviews with tags , , on December 30, 2009 by metalinkshop

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Jason Greenfield
Tattoo Artist & Owner
723 Tattoo
723 S Harbor Blvd
Fullerton, CA 92832
(714) 447-8270

MI: You’ve been tattooing for 16 years and you’re only in your early 30s?

Jason: It’ll be 17 years come April 9th. I started at age 13, and I was tattooing professionally when I was 15. I was born and raised in Oklahoma on an Indian reservation where tattooing was illegal. I did everything underground for that reason, and also because nobody wanted to each someone that young. I had a full ride scholarship to OSU, and originally, I went to school to be an architect. I was 19, making $60K a year. At that age, you’re like “fuck that,” so I dropped out of college.

MI: So you took the more comfortable lifestyle you were offered and you never looked back?

Jason: That’s right, and I have no regrets. I’ve been featured in High Times magazine, Tattoo magazine, and I have a slew of awards from tattoo conventions: 1st place for Best Oriental in San Francisco in August 2007, 2nd place Full Leg in March 2008 in Reno, Nevada, recently, Best Back in San Francisco in March 2009…

MI: How would you describe your style?

Jason: Being self-taught, no one ever indoctrinated a style in me. Most tattoo artists start by doing an apprenticeship, and they learn the style of whoever they’re apprenticing under.

MI: I can see that from looking through your portfolio that your style is hard to define.

Jason: I like doing Japanese traditional because there are so many different things you can do. Whatever the client wants is my style.

MI: When did you come out to California and where else have you tattooed?

Jason: I’ve tattooed in so many places, from Japan to Key Largo, from Rhode Island to Seattle, and now Los Angeles.

MI: Why did you move around so much?

Jason: Tattooing is the hardest industry to get into. Without an apprenticeship, people don’t take you seriously. I had to travel around and teach myself, but I came up quick. I went from living in my truck to buying a new vehicle and new equipment, it was that sudden.

MI: Tell us the back stories of your most interesting tattoos.

Jason: I did a tattoo of Satan’s face on a woman’s crotch, and her pussy was his mouth. The back story is that there was a picture in the shop of a pussy with the tongue of Satan drawn on it, and as a joke, I put it up with “free tattoo of the day.” One day this woman came in and she totally called me on it! It was a joke, and she took it! And oh my god it was so gross.

MI: You mean her pussy?

Jason: I’m still in counseling over that tattoo.

MI: What about the gecko?

Jason: A guy got paid $10K from Geico to get that tattoo. He basically auctioned off his skin on eBay. He also got paid by Golden Palace casino to get a tattoo.

MI: What’s this crazy abstract one all over someone’s arm?

Jason: The guy who got that builds rock crawlers. It’s like a glorified jeep and it has crazy suspension. They got roll cages they’re really big in California. What you see there is the fuel filter, dry shaft, radiator, spark plug…

MI: I like this skull on the hand with the swirls–what is this, the ribcage?

Jason: See on the underside there’s a girl all tangled up? That represents his internal battle with women. I want to mention one last one: the microphone stand that was designed by the Swiss artist H. R. Giger for Jonathan Davis. If you see Korn live, he uses these microphone stands and they’re like $150K each. The story is that I saw the stand at his house and tattooed it on his cousin.

MI: Love it! Maybe you can do a version for the Design Contest? Whatever you decide to submit, we’ll do a part 2 of the interview so you can explain your designs. Thanks!

“Chino” Tattoos Big Tex in Cali

Posted in Tattoo shops in San Francisco with tags , , , on September 7, 2009 by metalinkshop

Announcing Metal Ink’s first special contest: Design for July Maiden Bambu! Check out her set on our Gallery, get inspired, and submit your art on! The winner will win $700 in cash, $300 in store credit, residuals from t-shirt sales, plus entry in our design of the year contests!

Cold Steel
1783 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 933-7233

Rian & peacock eyes

Rian & peacock eyes

Rian Renteria
Tattoo Artist

MI: Where did you get your name?

Rian: I dunno, my parents. That’s just the way they did it.

MI: It smells really good out here on your back patio.

Rian: Yeah, it’s coming from Escape from New York.

MI: Oh right, ‘cause it’s basically next door. Their pesto potato pizza is so good! Making me hungry. Anyway, how long have you been working here and how long have you been tattooing?

Rian: 4 years and 7 years.

MI: I asked Rob this question, want to know your opinion too. What do you think of tattooing in SF?

Rian: Bad ass. There’s a lot of really fucking good artists here. It’s like a Mecca for artists. Lots of inspiration. But I won’t call it competition actually, just a lot of good influences. And it’s not just tattoo artists. Graffiti artists too. Like Grime—his tattoos are cool, and he’s part of this graffiti crew, AWR, that’s pretty sick. He’s an amazing artist.

MI: Agree, the urban or street art here is great.

Rian: San Francisco is a great place. I didn’t intend to stay here for this long, but I like it. It’s nice and compact.

MI: Where did you come from?

Rian: Dallas.

MI: Did you work there and does everyone ask for a tattoo in the shape of the state of Texas down there?

Rian: *Laughs.* Yeah I’ve done that probably more times than I should have. That and the Dallas Cowboys star. Coincidentally, I happened to tattoo someone from Dallas yesterday. I tattooed Big Tex!

MI: Who’s that?

Rian: You know, he’s got a cowboy hat and a western shirt on and he’s wearing red, white and blue.

MI: Did it bring back memories?

Rian: Yeah it was bizarre doing it here, but it’s cool. Everyone gets their own shit.

MI: Did you start tattooing in Dallas? You grew up there, right?

Rian: Yeah. I hand-poked a tattoo on myself when I was 15. I got fascinated with it.

MI: What was your first tattoo?

Rian: It was my nickname on my arm which made no sense at all.

MI: What do you mean?

Rian: Well I’m Japanese, and my nickname was “Chino.” But that was my name, hanging out with the homies. I started learning how to tattoo early on, it became a hobby. And I got some tattoo machines not long after. I had a friend who was getting tattooed in a shop in Fort Worth. I went with him and my girlfriend at the time. She had a lot of tattoos done by me. I guess the artist liked them—he asked her who did it, and she pointed at me. He told me he was opening up a shop in a year and asked me to work for him. He stuck to his word. I helped him open up the shop and I started working with him. And working in a shop you learn more than when you’re fucking around with your homies. *Laughs.* So yeah, that’s how I got started. By a fluke.

MI: We’re now in your workspace, and I see you have acupuncture charts on your wall. What’s that for?

Rian's acupuncture charts

Rian's acupuncture charts

Rian: I just thought it was cool. And I like to use it to show clients exactly where work will be done, especially on the back.

MI: How would you describe your style?

Rian: I like to stay versatile. I don’t like saying I have a specific style, but it just tends to gather in your book. It tends to be more Asian theme. I started doing more black and gray. I try to do all of my work equally well and you have to be good at all types.

MI: Who are your influences?

Rian: There’s a lot…for Japanese style, Shige. Hands down he’s the best. He’s in Yokohama, Japan. He’s pretty much blown up by now. Also Paul Booth, he’s a sick ass black and gray artist.

MI: Awesome! We got the green light for an interview with him! We’re talking to Paul Booth the next time we’re in New York, probably in the fall.

Rian: That’s cool, so it’ll be on the Metal Ink blog?

MI: Yup, Metal Ink Crew Musings. Check back in a couple months!

Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8

Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8

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

Posted in Tattoo shops in San Francisco with tags , , , on August 28, 2009 by metalinkshop

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 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.