Tattooing for a long and lucky thirteen years, Brian Thurow of Dedication Tattoo has advanced his craft to the point where the body is almost too small a canvas- his large scale pieces go as far as they can, taking a visual control that’s hard to recreate two-dimensionally. Based out of Denver, Brian works in styles ranging from Irezumi to traditional, sometimes bringing the two together somewhere in between. From looking at his online portfolio, it’s clear that Dedication brings in a huge variety of clients and tastes- even the tattoos that repeat in composition and content have an individual presence. Brian’s full- body and back pieces, dealing mostly with Japanese imagery but not limited to it, spread along the full span of the shoulders, sometimes curving around to the front of the body in a way that follows its natural movement.
One extensive back piece in particular, featuring the grim reaper atop just as grim a stallion, is interesting because of the way it adds Japanese visual details without representing Irezumi symbolism- it’s a Western depiction of the supernatural but brings in an ornamental smoky cloud detail that invokes Japanese composition. It’s a blend that doesn’t scream culture clash but works seamlessly. The fact that he can also do something on the smaller side like the grim reaper riding a chopper or smoking a pipe is just a nod to the lack of discrimination within his personal repertoire- a smaller, one track images will receive as much care as a full back piece.
Another work of his that stood out was a shoulder- half sleeve floral design with the centerpiece being a bright sunflower ringed by smaller blossoms. Florals are hard to make unique, but this one was so compositionally tight that it carried a weight. Rounding out beside the collar bone, it immediately reminded me of Irezumi shoulder tattoos, which have a very recognizable shape. The fact that it held flowers and not koi or a dragon was surprising and on the original side -an homage to a style but extending beyond its playbook.
Brian’s tattoos, like most, are a portrait of the person on the receiving end and, in part, a portrait of the artist as a creator. The fact that the personalities he renders jump from wild animal to spiritual vanguard to pirate darling (all pieces featured on his Instagram), are physical markers of his experience in the tattoo world. Brain was also one of the artists to take part in the Open Road Tattoo Tour, joining Justin Weatherholtz, Paul Dobleman, Frankie Caraccioli and others in a multi- city tattoo initiative. The tour brought the tattooers together to create a sort of shared studio, taking residence at shops across the country.