Tattoo artist Yutaro, of London’s Red Point Tattoo, is, in one word- classic. However, his traditional technique rests on a pulsing web of wit, allegory and voice, giving his work the modern edge that renders it fully customized. Yutaro’s technique is by the book; careful and intricate, but the content he takes on goes beyond those scripted pages- and way past the bold lines and symbolic fauna of Irezumi. The sources of the artist’s inspiration are clear, but from there, he takes the reins and maneuvers his way down that river, venturing in and out of unmarked territory as he goes.
Contemporary Japanese- style tattoos have retained most of their telling characteristics for centuries- that is what makes them eternal storytelling vessels, a different kind of sacred. Western artists, however, have developed a certain dynamic between old and new- with respect for the art form in mind, they blend tradition with constantly evolving imagery, building on ideas and defining them in fresh terms. This is a form of preservation in itself, as varying elements come together to blur the boundaries between styles and advance tattoo art as a whole. Yutaro does just that. He’s able to do full-fledged traditional back pieces and sleeves, showing clear, familiar imagery and the symbolism behind it, but also renders other subjects, keeping the Japanese aesthetic in mind but not making it into an exclusive stylistic safety net. There are no borders, no border checks and no border tensions- Yutaro’s careful technique stems from the delicate line work and detail of Irezumi but expands into something boundless, always inviting a new idea in.
All of Yutaro’s pieces lie somewhere on that spectrum between then and now, and the beautiful thing is that they’re all connected by an invisible thread, linking them back to one transcendental artist. Take his phoenix for example. A full back piece, it’s black and grey, with impressive plumage and a message. Red blossoms rain over its curved body, which bends and turns as if it were always part of the skin. And then there’s the bat, caught in mid-flight on a forearm, dark and slinky and not at all like the phoenix- there is no universal meaning, no traditional context, and yet both images radiate the same thought-provoking liveliness.
This is Yutaro’s skill – interpreting the symbols that dot our lives and the lives of those before, relying on nothing but a cocktail of inspirations and the promise of change. Only artist that understands how and why things evolve can make every piece of theirs matter.