Inked AU/NZ #32 - Authent/Ink

Inked AU/NZ – Authentink Article – April 2015

by Kian ‘Horisumi’ Forreal


I’ll keep this article sharp and concise as I haven’t slept in a couple months due to normal chaos at the shop and having a baby girl recently and so my normal humor is somewhat lacking… and I might be a tad cranky J This tattoo business makes a motherfucker crazy! The tattooing alone can make one crazy due to ridiculous deadlines, difficult clients, consuming hours, the general insanity of what tattooing is, and whom you have to deal with. Then throw into the mix the running of a business AND tattooing large scale designs full-time, hectic drawing schedule, managing 6-8 creative types all day every day… teaching youngsters the craft and the business, being short handed at the shop because people just walk out on you one day and don’t give a shit about the mess they leave behind. Then one day you just snap and say, “fuck it” and want to throw the whole fucking thing into the fire walk away into the sunset! You really do… but no, you don’t do that because you actually love it; you love tattooing and you love the good, the bad, and the ugly and you get accustomed to the drama so you sign up to do a tattoo convention right in the middle of the chaos, which if we are being honest was pretty good this year as it was more of a Sydney local tattoo shops convention… there were not so many internationals this year due to the strict licensing etc required now for interstate and overseas artists. I had the chance to meet and hang out with local artists and shop owners that I’ve heard about for years but never had the chance to meet face to face, it was a really great experience! Nearly all the guys I met were really awesome people, we had a real good sense of community in there for a few days and nights and shared stories and talked shit like we knew each other for years and of course we drank more than we should have.

Funny thing about the transition to shop owner from artist… you start understanding more and more each day why shop owners are crazy and get crazy, why they lose their shit over a seemingly random comment or something that looks so unimportant. It’s the stress, ingratitude, ignorance, the lying, cheating, and general woe of dealing with other crazy people all day every day. WE are all crazy… tattoo clients, tattoo artists and shop owners.. at the top of that food chain is the shop owner, dealing with all the problems that each artist has, each apprentice has, and each artists client has.. and my own clients as well and doing it all while outlining a fucking dragon sleeve after 3 hours sleep. Did I mention I haven’t slept? I feel sorry for all the grief I have caused my prior employers, I truly am… I am sure I was a cunt at times, and I can only hope that the fuckers that have caused me trouble meet their own selves down the track to show them what’s what… and give them the same revelation! And a note to you young fucks that have only been tattooing a few years and think the world and tattooing owes you something; it doesn’t, no one owes you a bloody thing, be happy you’re part of this, work hard, keep your head down and do your part at the shop, and play the game properly and whatever the fuck you do, don’t bite the hand that feeds you, as that hand can hold a grudge for a long time.

So at the Sydney Tattoo Expo I was asked to judge the best of day tattoo for the Saturday, I was quite happy to be asked and felt a bit special if I am to be honest, (not retarded special mind you) I’ve only ever judged a handful of tattoo contests in my life and never in Australia. Earlier in the day I had won the award for best Oriental Backpiece or something like that.. for a large koi back I had done last year so I was in a rather cheerful mood, I am not much into the award thing but it was nice to win and I was stoked to get it! So of course I jumped on the opportunity to participate as a judge later in the day.

Very tough to judge ‘Best of Day’ tattoo as it encompasses all styles and all sizes of tattoos done on that particular day of the expo. Putting black and grey realism against Japanese style against colour portraits against dotwork macbre pieces… etc, tough indeed! My outlook was thus, choosing the best tattoo was like choosing a wife or a partner, you didn’t just go for the flashy colours or big tits, or the sexy shoes, pretty face and bold lines, you had to weigh up all the different facets of the tattoo to find the perfect balance, was it outlined cleanly? (yes it needs an outline) Was the shading smooth? Will it last the test of time? Was there good color saturation? Did it look rushed? Can she cook? Is she loyal and fun and can she take a joke? Will she put up with your shit? Did the tattoo fit the body properly? Was it too big to be done properly is one sitting.. ? this was a common error artists made.. everything looked great right up until the last bit.. then the artist was obviously tired and smashed out the ending without much care… and you can tell of course when this happens. The other big fuck up a lot of artists were making was to do an awesome tattoo and then some bullshit lettering incorporated into it, massive fail, no excuse for shit lettering, ever. So in the end a very sweet dotwork skeleton and female face won the day.. I was happy with my decision as were artist and client. Good fun! We’ll be back there next year at the expo in the same booth. Hopefully I get some sleep between now and then!


Horisumi – Kian Forreal is a professional tattoo artist specializing in Traditional Japanese Tattooing with 22 years international tattoo experience and has worked all over the world studying under some of the leading tattoo artists of today. He was given an honorary Japanese tattoo name in 2013 by Horiyoshi III in Japan and is based out of Sydney, Australia where he owns and runs Authentink Tattoo Studio in Surry Hills. You can check his work and those of the other artists working there at



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