Horisumi – Kian Forreal
Experience: Since 1993
I tattoo under the Traditional Japanese Tattoo name of ‘Shodai HORISUMI’ – but I am better known in Australia as Kian Forreal.
I specialise in traditional Japanese Style Irezumi or ‘Wabori’ using machine to make Japanese tattooing, and I am currently a student of Tebori – the traditional hand poke method of Japanese tattooing. With my work I aspire to create life lasting authentic tattoos in the Japanese Style with a diligent and committed work ethic. My tattoos are highly detailed, richly coloured and technically proficient yet remain elegant and simple to look at on the skin and are created to last for decades, not just for a photo. I import and create all my coloured inks from powered pigments and I mix them by hand. My blacks and shades of black are made from Japanese sumi sticks imported from Nara, Japan, and are ground and mixed daily in the studio, only the finest ingredients, needles and supplies are utilised for my work, no expense or effort is spared.
When I am not drawing, painting, or designing I also frequently write for tattoo magazines on current affairs, tattoo culture and tattoo history as well as opinion editorials. Another passion of mine aside from art and tattooing is researching the Japanese tattoo culture and I regularly give lectures and seminars on Japanese tattoo art, history and culture and do tattoo public demonstrations. I have presented at the prestigious Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Japan Foundation in Sydney and at the Newcastle Museum of Art.
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.
In an informal and sometimes formal way I personally studied under, worked with and learned from such living (and deceased) tattoo legends as Crazy Ace Daniels, Henning Jorgensen, Trevor Mcstay, Greg Orie, John ‘The Dutchman’ van ‘t Hullenaar and Paul Braniff. I also worked with and learned a lot from my esteemed contemporaries and friends, Horikashi, Marco Serio, Regino Gonzales, Aaron Bell, Neil Ahern, Jeroen Franken, Sasha Sevic, Will Card, Clay Decker, Joao Bosco, Megumu Kamata, Ian Forlife and many more.
Sometimes it was just a little thing I learned from them, how to make a better needle or shade a dragon in a different way to show more volume, or a life changing drawing technique that would alter my whole approach to my craft, whatever it was I would not be where I am today without these artists. If you get the chance, find them on the internet and check out their work and their stories. I am forever indebted for their guidance and kindness in helping me out.
I am also greatly indebted to all the great tattoo artist, craftsmen and painters, living and deceased, whose shoulders I stand on and am continually inspired by on daily basis; Horiyoshi III being foremost for constant drive and perseverance and creativity, Horikitsune for being a great friend and source of support and inspiration, Horitoshi (Family) for being as Traditional and real as it gets, Gifu Horihide, Horikashi, Horikyo, Asakusa Horikazu, Chris O’donnel, Paul Jeffries, Mick, Ivan, Hokusai, Kuniyoshi, Kunisada, Yoshitoshi, Kyosai! and many many more whose work I love and admire.
If anything, my work is a tribute to them.