Two decades ago, the Japanese tattoo artist Gakkin found himself honing a love for body art after dropping out of the fashion design school he was attending at the time. A self-described freehand artist, he’s well known for his creative process, which eschew traditional stencil in favor of a less step-by-step, more improvisational method. His current portfolio, rendered mostly in black and grey, reflects his most recent experiments in shape and technique, which are bound to make you rethink the role of abstraction in tattoo art- Gakkin takes the concept to another level, inevitably managing to give his pieces clear intent, no matter what form they take.
Through the years, Gakkin’s work has evolved, retaining its original Japanese influence, but redefining the sense of tradition that permeates the culture. Even as recently as five years ago, his tattoos concentrated on irezumi motifs and technique, while inching towards the absurd side of things and going wild. Today, his collection of work reflects the same unhinged affinity for that other side- sometimes dark, sometimes obscure, always pushing the limits. And yet, somehow, his tattoos conform to the mortal body they’re destined for, seeping into the skin and becoming one with the limbs, like an eternal shadow under a blood moon.