Inked AU/NZ #21 - Authent/Ink

Inked AU/NZ – Authentink Article – June 2013

by Kian ‘Horisumi’ Forreal


Let me tell you a story about how and why I started to tattoo. A long long time ago I was punk rock kid living in Toronto, Canada and I really thought that having an Exploited (80’s era punk band) skull tattoo would be the most badass thing in the world to have. So I saved some scratch, took the train from the burbs to the middle of the big city and went to the best tattoo shop I could find in the yellow pages.. some of you may remember the yellow pages from the time before google.. anyways, big ad = good shop.. so that’s where I went, I took a t-shirt for reference and walked in without an appointment. I stated my case.. I tried to look as old as I could for a 15 year old, although they didn’t seem to care in the least. It was a different time, there may have been only 3 or 4 tattoo shops in the entire city, and maybe 2 of those were any good, most were run by old school biker types and the tattooers that worked in them couldn’t draw for shit. And so back in those days stencils were cut by hand in acetate or plastic sheets and charcoal powder was used to create a guide line on the skin using Vaseline as an adhesive, one wrong move or wipe while tattooing and it was gone! Getting a custom made acetate took patience and extra money for the artist to make your stencil when he had time.. I didn’t have either at that point… but I was in luck! Someone had already commissioned the skull I was after and they had already made a stencil for it. So I got my badass skull tattoo and felt like the coolest kid on the block until I got home and caught a ton of shit for getting tattooed at such a young age. I didn’t care, I had my tattoo and ever since then tattooing has been my life and the dream of what I wanted to do. I tried my hand tattooing a few mates with another artists gear at his studio.. I was way too young and needed guidance and an apprenticeship, I wasn’t going to start my career by fucking up peoples skin.

So I put that on the backburner until the timing was better and just got on with being a kid for the next several years. But I kept my drawing up and got a lot more tattoos during that time, when the time came I jumped in, bought my own quality gear and got a proper job at a shop doing little tiny tattoos to learn what I was doing before I started making larger tattoos. I walked before I ran. After doing several years in a street shop getting my technical ability down and being instructed from my mentor, I moved around a lot and learned from all the great people I could and stayed hungry enough to keep learning until this very day from every tattooer I can. Tattooing has been a long journey for me, it was never about fame; they weren’t very many magazines back then, no TV shows, no internet and only the odd convention here and there, it wasn’t about the money as things were hit and miss, busy in the summer, slow in the winter, good days and bad days, pumping cities and dead cities… tattooing was just this back street thing that a few people were into.. it was pre-cool, it was a dark underworld for the most part and it was a hard scene, lots of fights and sketchy characters and you had to be a man to hold your place in the game, my how things have changed, and necessarily for better or worse, just different. Tattooing was just this thing you were either drawn to or you weren’t. I was.

What I see a lot of now is a fad and a trend and a bunch of silliness and the people are drawn to that, the fame, the fortune, the face tattoos, the TV shows, the tattooed pin up girls, and of course, the drama. I want to inject some realness back in the scene, let people know, let you know that there is an entire ‘other’ world of serious tattooing and serious tattoo artists out there that are making great tattoos in their own little worlds that aren’t seeking fame and fortune but are just happy creating fantastic art for themselves and their clients. This is what I am passionate about. It sadden me when I see all these ordinary tattoo artists around the world taking on apprentices when they themselves don’t have much to teach and their apprentices have apprentices and obviously that’s a train wreck, its pretty ridiculous really and it’s dumbing down the entire tattoo community as a whole, not unlike the plot in the fantastic movie Idiocracy. The bad tattooers are ‘out breeding’ the good ones, exponentially, and soon the whole thing will be one giant retarded reality show of shiny trendy face tattoos for kids. I have no interest in contributing to the mess, but I am meeting it head on by taking on a serious apprentice at some point down the track in the next year or so. This will be a real traditional apprenticeship with a 5 year commitment to becoming a great tattoo artist. Not for the faint of heart. I may not be the most agreeable person in the world but I have something to teach and pass on to help the cause of good tattooing.

You must be hard working, dependable, 25 years old or younger, punctual, fluent in English language, both writing and speaking and most importantly, know how to listen and take direction. I am looking for the best and the brightest.

To put your name in for consideration you must send me a handwritten letter telling me a bit about yourself and your history, a recent clear photo of yourself, and if you like, include some drawings you have done. DO NOT send me tattoo photos, any envelopes with tattoo photos will be thrown in the trash unread. This is not a job application for a tattoo artist, it is an expression of interest for the position of apprentice.

You will find the mailing address and more information on my website Please do not email me about this. Write me a letter.

Thank you and good luck

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