Inked AU/NZ – Authentink Article – July 2012
by Kian ‘Horisumi’ Forreal
One of the downsides to professional tattooing is the ‘sitting on your ass’ all day part, eating take out food for breakfast, lunch and dinner at your desk as fast as possible and then going home at night to draw while sitting on your butt again with a beer or wine at your side, the next thing you know you need to seriously upsize your wardrobe and take a good hard look at yourself. Not only is being unfit and unhealthy a bad look, add in the alcohol consumption and general laziness on days off and you’re a recipe for disaster.
An unhealthy body will break down and get injured more so and much faster than a fit one, so things like sore backs, carpal tunnel syndrome and pains in the neck can be postponed or avoided all together by a little regular physical exercise, some stretching and eating at least one good meal a day. Tattooing is a marathon, I have been at it nearly 20 years full time, and I am just getting started, I can’t imagine what I would do if I was injured or it was too painful for me to tattoo. A few artists I know have carpal tunnel, they can only tattoo 3-4 hours a day and need big breaks to let the tendons relax… shitty way to end a career. Others get lost in their work and pack on the kilograms, let themselves go and don’t make it past 50. That’s no way to live. Not to mention the mental space that is necessary to relax and unwind.. walking, running, training are all great ways to clear the mind from work related stress and anxiety and have some ‘me’ time. No phone, facebook or instagram. Perhaps this whole article is just a mantra I am repeating to myself to remind myself of what needs to be done…
It also helps to give the creative side some fresh air as well and step away from work and the indoors on a regular basis and see some things other the inside of shops and peoples skin up close. I can’t tell you how many times I have travelled to amazing places and seen nothing other that the airport and the inside of the tattoo shop. When we had guest artists at the shop I tried to make it a point to get them out of work mode at least one day a week and see some of Australia, the ocean or the mountains… sometimes its easy to forget that there’s more to life than your next appointment.
In my not so humble opinion, staying healthy in both mind and body trumps everything else in life, yes, tattoo like a demon and work long hours and party hard, but in the down time make some space in your life for running, stretching and working out. Even 30 minutes a day 3 days a week can be the difference between working your whole life doing what you love and getting sidelined by a bad back. Personally, I have been active my whole life so I don’t suffer from the pains and strains associated with being hunched over all day with a craned neck… a strong core will protect you from injury and eating well will keep your plumbing and internals ticking over for years to come.
Once all the glitz and glamour of the current tattoo fashion is stripped away, what you have left are the hard working craftspeople that have sacrificed everything to bring you the best art they have to offer, they sacrifice their lives, their relationships, their families and as written here, their good health. I have stated on more than one occasion that I want to be the old guy tattooing up on the mountain when I am 80 that the younger generation still come to get a piece from now and then… lets hope this comes true and my advice works!
The Japanese masters seem to have it figured out, Horiyoshi 3 is still going strong in his 70’s, Horitoshi 1 has been tattooing 45-50 years and still works every day, very inspiring. Perhaps the peacefulness of a quiet studio, going at their own pace, and having a relaxed atmosphere all contribute to this longevity.
As some of you may already have heard I am leaving Inner Vision Tattoo, in fact by the time you have read this I will have already finished my time there, many people thing I own the shop when in fact I was only an employee. Leaving couldn’t come at a better time for me. The tattoo world of New South Wales is about to get shaken up pretty fiercely with the introduction of licensing laws for both artists and shop owners alike and it has left many of us with a sense of foreboding as to what the future holds for the independent craftsmen such as myself and my friends. Word thru the grapevine is that Victoria and Queensland are both drafting similar laws to regulate the trade in their respective states too. Once we’re all licensed we’ll see how far the reach of this law goes and what the true intent is. I know from talking to colleagues that many artists don’t think they will be staying in NSW and will head to greener pastures in other states. I’ll be staying, getting licensed and doing my thing but on my own terms.
I wish Inner Vision good luck in their future endeavors and a big thank you to all the staff that I have worked with over the years.
See you on the other side!
K.FR is a professional tattoo artist with 19 years international experience and specializes in traditional Japanese tattoo work and script lettering. He has worked all over world and has studied under some the leading tattoo artists of today. He is based out of Sydney, Australia.
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