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Ten-Ten Tattoo: Interview by Crez

Some years ago I’ve had the chance to cross Australia by van from Darwin to Melbourne. While I was around I’ve contacted Adam to set up a meeting at his place, and we’ve spent some days together talking about tattooing and Japanese art. We’ve found to have a lot in common. I really admire his work and his dedication. Adam is a shy person, so you will not find his picture attached to the interview.

When and how did you get started in tattooing?
I started tattooing in 2004. I was 30 years of age. Being tattooed at age 16 sparked my interest in tattooing. After years of drawing and door hopping tattoo studios in Sydney I was unable to attract an apprenticeship. This didn’t happen for me. I had then teach myself. After having years of drawings and a small handful of photos of my tattoos I took a 3 day tour of Melbourne tattoo studios and was offered a job.

How long did it take to get the first proper results?
I haven’t yet. I feel because there are to many variables with personal growth and with working with skin. Sometimes it flows but for me it’s always quite a big challenge. Because I am primarily self taught, I feel I’m always behind the 8 ball.Do you consider painting a part of your learning process? Tell me more about your drawing and painting routine…
Yes it is. Drawing/painting for me is compiling practical foundations like muscle memory and ironing out blockages and allowing freedom of my hand. Painting is for purging, an outlet to produce Japanese art and its culture.Before you’ve started tattooing were you involved in any subculture (such as punk , dark, metal, rock and roll, rap)?
Rock music from the 70s and the 80s made it mark on me. It’s rebellious nature I can understand.If you have to pick 3 tattoo artists that inspire your work who would you mention and why?
The first is Yokohama’s Horiyoshi 3, because back in the early 1990’s information photos etc were hard to come by and I found his work and was drawn to it due to his attention to detail, wisdom and natural talent. Next is Yokohama Horimitsu 1st for his raw spirit, organic hand and conviction towards The Japanese Tattoo. Then a friend of mine, Yozin from Ume Tokyo. I love his childlike energy towards Japanese tattooing and his endurance. He is an inspiration! He has a good human approach.From when you started, how has the business evolved?
In the past from my experience, word of mouth was how I learnt what was good from bad. The internet has its good points and bad points. Good points. It has given us the chance to look into things that were hard to obtain in the past. Information and communicating which in the past was much harder to do due to older values. I think business has not changed just morals and the platform on which we show ourselves and our work. Tattooing is a wonderful and expressive job/career. Because there is no governed body for tattooing I chose to be realistic and responsible for myself and my tattooing. This is important foundation of mine. The internet has made many things accessible. Good! But too much? Tattooing seems to be accessible to anyone now? It is free to be a tattooist.

I’m not about personal control but do believe in quality control or self control for ones part in tattooing.

Tattooing has always been a rebellious trade. Reading between the glorious aspects of tattooing seems to be overlooked these days. I work hard to be responsible for what I can add towards tattooing while I can keep tattooing. This is my part in the ever changing landscape of the internet. All we can do is try our best for the bigger picture around us not just for the one we’re tattooing.Machines (rotary or coil),Tebori (hand tools) or both? What’s your choice? Why?
All have their advantages. Rotary for me, because tattooing has made a impact on my hearing and for longevity on my body.

Can you list a Top five of your favorite visual Artists of all eras? What is attractive of their work in your opinion?
Hokusai: because of his versatility and organic artistic wisdom. Maruyama Okyo: for it has a great amount of old feel. Great technique and control. Yoshitoshi: somehow his work is so loose but made it translate. Utagawa Kuniyoshi: a foundation for tattooing. Horyoshi 3: I feel he is one on the last of the old artists of the past. He has carried the old into the new and infuriating echos of the past into the new. He is a core the future.How do you feel about the “ban” of tattooing in Japan?
Japanese tattooing throughout history has been banned and survived. It will always will.
The fact that in the past it was underground made it more appealing. The reason why people get so bored is because everything in life is easy to see and obtain. Things that are hard makes it more exciting to find out.What’s the most challenging subject for you and why?
It’s all hard. The same motif that works one client work may not work on the next. For me it’s all hard because everybody’s differently unique.

INSTAGRAM: @tententattoo

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