About The Shop & Horisumi
I tattoo under the Traditional Japanese Tattoo name of ‘Shodai HORISUMI’ – but I am better known by – Kian Forreal, I consider myself more of a craftsman in the field of Irezumi/ Wabori than an ‘artist’, regardless and what we call it I aspire to create lasting authentic tattoos in the Japanese Style with a ‘shokunin’ work ethic.
I learned how to tattoo in Toronto, Canada under the tutelage of David ‘Crazy Ace’ Daniels. I began studying, researching, drawing, and learning to tattoo with homemade tools and equipment on my own in 1986 and I have been tattooing professionally worldwide since 1993 after paying my dues working for real tattooers in real shops for 5 solid years doing ‘flash and walk-ins’. Coming from a Canadian background and having lived in Europe for many years my inclination for travelling the world and seeking ‘more’ came very naturally and in doing so I have worked with and learned from some of the best tattoo artists living today at some of the finest tattoo shops around the globe . I was given a traditional Japanese tattoo name in 2013 after 20 years of tattooing.
The name I was given by Japanese tattoo master Horiyoshi III is Horisumi. All traditional Japanese tattooers have a ‘hori’ name, hori means ‘to carve’ and a tattooer is a ‘horishi’ or carver, this a throwback to the woodblock print or ukiyo-e days when block carvers would also do some tattooing on the side. Some of you may know that ‘sumi’ ink is the old traditional ink sticks used in Japan that were/are used for not only brush painting and calligraphy but also traditonal tattooing, hence the term ‘irezumi’. There is also a play on words as the character for ‘sumi’ is also a character meaning ‘truth’ and since my last name is Forreal the master was inspired to give me a name with meaning relevant to my personal name. *Please bear in mind I am not an apprentice of Horiyoshi III, nor am I a member of the Horiyoshi Family. I am Shodai Horisumi, the first of my name and the head of the Horisumi Family. My tattoo name was an honorary title bestowed on to me by Horiyoshi III in recognition of my dedication to Japanese Traditional Tattooing after two decades of hard work.
Current Horisumi Tattoo Family
Horisumi – Kian Forreal
Lance St. Vincent
Current Authentink Crew
Horisumi – Kian Forreal
Lance St. Vincent
Authentink Studio is the culmination of 24 years of hard work, world travel/study, discipline and perseverance. On the 20th anniversary of my tattoo career I opened the doors to Sydney Australia’s latest and greatest Japanese and Custom Style Semi- Private Tattoo Studio in the heart of Surry Hills Sydney.
My aim with Authentink Studio is to create a tattoo studio atmosphere where clients and artists can feel comfortable, relaxed and inspired, and artists can create authentic tattoo art in its various forms while clients can expect and receive quality, service and honesty in both their artists’ and art.
Authentink Studio is also a teaching and learning environment for both client and artist alike, everyone including myself has something to learn everyday and the road to success is paved with small daily achievements and advancements. I am very keen to give back to the art that I care so much for.
I have been tattooing globally for over 24 years, the last decade being in Sydney. I have developed my style, reputation and client base by working hard, having discipline and being straight forward with every client I deal with. My shop will be no different.
My artist line up starts with Seth Arcane who I have known personally for over a decade and worked with for years at Inner Vision tattoo, he does outstanding geometrical/dotwork based tattooing and all of the ethnographic styles of tattooing there are, from Borneo tribal, Samoa, Polynesian and Maori inspired pieces… the man is a machine and a perfectionist!
We also have Ning Chula from Thailand that creates amazing Japanese tattoos on a large scale in both traditional style and more modern takes on the Japanese art, he also does great black & grey one-shot tattoos and just loves making great lasting tattoo art. Lance St. Vincent joined the team in 2015 and while being a younger tattooer he puts on a really solid tattoo and we have great expectations of him, he loves doing script lettering, large Polynesian inspired tattooed and of course is learning Japanese style a fast rate and is being mentored by me personally.
Gus Honey joined the Authentink Crew in late 2016 and is our black & grey specialist, he loves doing realism of all types whether it is animals or human portraits and abstract designs… Soo is our newest addition to our Asian tattoo specialists and we are super fortunate to have him on board as his work is second to none! and Peter tattoo has joined us recently to take on all the big color and neo-traditioanl tattooing….so now we have the most rounded out and perfectly balanced shop in Australia as far as I am concerned. We also regularly feature amazingly talented guest artists from overseas and around Australia. Keep an eye on the site to see who’s coming to visit!
All their biographies and portfolios are available to view on the artists page, please have a look and when you are ready to get tattooed contact the shop to book your free consultation with any of our artists!
For any and all information about the shop or the artists working there please don’t hesitate to ring the shop, contact info on the contact page and speak to one of our shop assistants.
For more information about myself and my tattooing please visit my personal website at www.kianforreal.com
thanks and hope to see you soon
Kian ‘Horisumi’ Forreal
Receiving my Japanese Tattoo Name – HORISUMI – from Japanese Tattoo Master Horiyoshi 3 in Yokohama, Japan 2013
Horisumi & Tradition
As of 2015 I only use hand ground, high grade sumi ink from Nara, Japan for all the black and shading in my traditional Japanese tattoos . This year has been the time to honor the name I was given.. Hori-sumi. Its a lot more work but the look and feel of the tattoo is now second to none and the experience and reverence during the process makes it all the more authentic.
Sumi (墨) is Japanese for black ink. Although there are many different kinds of sumi, only a few are suitable for tattooing. The sumi made Nara City, Japan by the old ways is considered the highest quality and commands a high price. Globally, Nara sumi are the ones that are most commonly used for tebori/wabori tattooing. Nara sumi is made by collecting the soot from burning pure vegetable oil—usually sesame or pauwlonia—and combining this with a glue derived from vegetable starch. This is shaped into sticks and dried. When needed, the tattoo artist grinds the stick in a slate inkwell called a suzuri until the correct consistency is achieved.
I still makes many of my own tattoo needles the old world way, by hand, using loose needles and soldering them into the configurations that I need to suit my immediate use, it is a lost art that I maintain a daily hold on to, and I aim to pass it on and teach the needle making craft to my Deshi.
Mixing my own ink from colour pigments is one of the most difficult, messy and time consuming aspects of keeping the old world tradition alive yet I know it is not only a vital link to the past and real tattooing but also produces the absolute best results with my tattooing. Vibrant colours, long lasting brightness and complete control over tone, hue and saturation make this one facet of tradition I will never turn my back on!
I create all my tattooing colours using safe non-toxic pigments that have been used safely for decades and mixing them with inert ingredients to make the smoothest and most usable ink I possibly can. Accept no substitutes.
What it really comes down to in the long run is how will the tattoo age and grow alongside you as you change, as the bearer of the tattoo this is a very important factor. Lasers and removal are for mistakes that are best not made in the first place. We all change, our ideas, our lifestyle, our beliefs, our bodies.. everything changes, always. The Japanese style of tattooing is unchanging, it is classic, timeless and, in my opinion, perfect. It follows the contours and forms of the body, flows like the seasons and moods that set its backgrounds and can tell a fantastic story of masculinity, feminity, playfulness, joy, terror, eroticism or death, moral and all, with just lines and shading…
Japanese tattooing is all encompassing, and like the 26 letters of our alphabet that contain all the knowledge of the universe if only one knows how to spell, the same can be said for japanese tattooing, if the artist knows how to compose correctly and seeks out the stories, myths, tales and legends, there is something for everyone in the japanese tradition.
Like a fine wine or single malt scotch that only gets better with age and never goes out of style, modern Japanese tattooing is the culmination of hundreds of years of tradition, art, mythology, mystery, and technique. It is the very pinnacle of what great tattooing should be and it is! It is by far the most complicated and involved of all the tattooing styles and even after decades of practice in this style one is still learning something new everyday.
Choose your artist carefully, there is a big difference between correct and good japanese tattooing and the rest. Large scale work is near impossible to remove or cover. Invest the time to research your artist and find someone that can deliver what you are seeking, even if you don’t know what it is yet you are after.
There are many reasons why people get tattooed in this day and age, from the mystical to the mundane. I will talk about a few of them and give some insight into my own perspective from this side of the tattoo machine.
It Ain’t about the money. If it is.. the art dies, just like EVERY other craft and tradition passed down from generation to generation and watered down by the many unscrupulous pretenders and purveyors of mass produced slop. The unwitting public are always drawn to cheaper prices, flashing signs, lower quality and convenience, this further cheapens the art, and makes large bank for some pimp who probably doesn’t even care about the craft. Buying into this validates the method, puts a tattoo shop on every corner—- and seals the fate of the art. Real Tattoo Artists have as much to lose as clients when this happens.
Never trust a skinny chef!
As we all know now, Tattooing is a very ancient art that has spanned much of known and unknown times and is found in many cultures from all around the world. It is said that tattoos have the power to transform people and I agree wholeheartedly providing they are done in the right spirit. When a person makes a conscious decision to alter their bodies permanently with ink and some form of design, it is more than just that, it can be a heavy undertaking, a desire to make manifest a yearning for change on one of a multitude of levels. The pain factor is a huge consideration, it marks time, and pain for three hours is living in the moment for three hours, inescapably so. That is something you never quite forget, and that is what separates us the tattooed from them, the unmarked. It is a decision that you must live with for the rest of your life regardless of what may come, and the reality of that starts the moment the needle first finds home in your skin.
Spending time watching Japanese Tattoo Master Horikyo work by tebori
I find this whole idea incredibly seductive, and coupled with the esoteric nature of the art, its dubious, glorious and tribalistic history, the pain, and the ritual of it all, it makes for a real experience that few others in our brave new world can come close to comparing with. An authentic ritual, and it is a ritual in every sense of the word. We live in a world that has thrown the idea of ritual for ritual’s sake to the wind. It is a necessary facet of human development. Without time for pause and introspection, life can stop making sense.
Some people don’t know it yet but they are getting their tattoos for these very reasons, and later in life will understand how it has affected them in this capacity. Many people decide to make a tattoo after a serious life change; a break-up, a family death, a geographical move, a great success or failure, a need for some control over their lives, a personal awakening, a period of confusion…the list goes on. These are all valid reasons to stop and mark time, to do something soley for themselves and their well being. In many ancient cultures the tattoo was a rite of passage and symbolized the transition into adulthood or warrior classes, and for women was used as an indication of readiness to marry and as simple as it may seem, just like today, it was also a fashion accessory.
And there is nothing wrong with that, tattoos can be beautiful on men and women the same if they are done properly. Art for art’s sake is another huge reason people like to be tattooed, myself included. Owning a tattoo that is visually striking, conforms to the contours of the body and has the ability to hypnotize viewers as well as yourself is an amazing thing to behold. There are tattoos and then are really good tattoos… sadly, most people don’t have the time to discover the difference, however, when they do… they learn just how addictive tattoos can be.
No matter what the reason for getting tattooed make sure you take the time to find an artist that you are comfortable with and that he or she has the time to discuss your ideas with you in full. Even choosing a tattoo design from a flash sheet or a book can be rewarding as long as it is something you identify with right now and can live with forever.
Tattoos are power. Like a talisman, it brings its wearer strength and confidence, and a living breathing history that cannot be denied.
From where I sit as a tattooist, I see a huge responsibility on my part to make certain that I don’t do ‘bad’ tattoos. A negative image tattooed can be forever detrimental to a persons life, my job is as much what I do as what I don’t do. Artist, craftsman, guide – Tattooer… Except in unusual situations, I never judge peoples reasons to get tattooed or their choice of design because that is such a personal issue however it does distress me when people don’t get the tattoo they deserve and settle for second or even third best.
Tattooing is also pretty simple, they look good on the body when done right, just like that.
I try not to take it so seriously that at the end of the day if you want a tattoo just for the hell of it, I am good with that.. and then we can go out for gin and tonics and talk about the deeper meaning of drum ‘n’ bass.
Please feel free to drop me a line to discuss your tattoo ideas if you are coming to Sydney or wherever I happen to be at the time. Check the Updates page, or my facebook page for current events and news.
Horitoshi and myself after getting tattooed in 2010
Thanks for taking my musings into consideration