Akira Taguchi More Than a Tattoo Artist in Japan

Tattoo Mural Japanese Traditional Art
Mural at Hapa Izakaya Kitsilano, Vancouver Designed by Akira Taguchi

Who is Tattoo Artist Akira Taguchi?

I had the opportunity to become friends with Akira Taguchi, a well-traveled tattoo artist who picked up the craft in Tel Aviv Israel to finish an apprenticeship — of all places. In 2009 under an Israeli artist named Yaad Kedem.

I met Akira 7 years ago at an art collective in Gas Town, Vancouver B.C. I was renting space to paint and here comes a tattoo artist, it was a fantastic change to the collective of painters.

Akira’s work is his unique designs that are inspired by traditional Japanese art. He told me he gets his inspiration from traditional artists mostly because they’re standing on a mountain of trial and error and we are doing the same.

I saw him spend hours drawing, and his art studio at the collective was covered wall to wall in his art.

My Tattoo Experience

Akira became a friend of mine, and over time I got to see his work grow and inspire people, spiritually and visually.

Akira designed one of my first and only tattoos. It’s a funny story because I did not know I was going to get tattooed that day.

We had talked about the design of a feather on my left arm; we made an appointment to meet up the next few days. Akira showed me his creation, and then I noticed the equipment was ready and laid out.

I was like are we tattooing me today? And Akira laughed and said well I thought that’s what we were going to do. I said I thought I was going to discuss the design with him.

I was nervous and almost ready to back out, he said we don’t have to do it today, but then I was like I might never do it, so let’s go.

And that’s how I got my first tattoo, felt like a cat scratching my arm, it was scary to see the needle and the blood, but after a while, I got use it.

Design and Working Ethic

He asked me once to help him with a mural, a paid gig, and to assist him in painting Japanese style tattoo designs in large scale.

I became inspired to be a tattoo artist perhaps myself that I asked Akria if I could apprentice under him.

The advice he would share with me and with anyone getting into tattooing is to draw as much as you can and try to absorb as much information as you can.

I got to see him work and he works hard to keep a tight, clean studio, his equipment is polished and sanitized. And he draws and perfects his craft all day till he gets a tattoo request from a customer.

Sometimes people don’t know what Akira can do; they bring designs from the internet, they don’t realize that they are approaching an artist.

But the people who do recognize his talent they get epic, amazing works created by Akira.

I would describe them as masterpieces of his hard work. He mentioned in the interview his future goals as an artist is to continue to grow and to start doing more substantial pieces.

I want you to get to know this hardworking tattoo artist, who is more than a guy with tattoo equipment, he has taken his craft and perfected it.

Interview with Akira Taguchi

I asked him a few questions about why, and what inspired him to take on this journey. The interview is lightly edited to stay with his tone and voice.

Tattoo Mural Japanese Traditional Art
Akira Taguchi Art and Design assistant Caroline Chojnacki mural at Hapa Izakaya

Can you pick three words that describe you and your work as an artist? What makes you stand out from other tattoo artists?

I’m Blessed, stubborn, and funny. My work is detailed, colorful and flowing. I try to make a significant connection with each customer.

Why did you choose this as your career?

The apostle Paul once said that it’s ideal if you can make a living for yourself. I have a talent for drawing and composition so I thought it would be prudent to explore the full potential of those gifts.

Do you have a role model? And why?

I have seen video and images of accomplished artists, whose work I adore, asleep at their desk; collapsed in exhaustion. Bono once said about King David, “He knew he had a gift that he could never out-work.” I look up to these people because they shake me from my stubborn procrastinating ways.

What are the things you don’t like as a tattoo artist?

It’s the same as martial arts, religion or the restaurant industry: people who aren’t working in the industry but are self-proclaimed experts with lofty, outspoken, entitled, and misguided opinions.

What was the best piece you ever have done? And why?

I tattooed a Japanese piece on a tattoo artist from Barcelona, Spain. I drew the design out of pure enjoyment and not because I wanted it to be a tattoo. The tattoo itself came together naturally and seamlessly.

Do you have any tattoos? And what do you think your tattoos say about you?

My tattoos are bold but aren’t very visible in normal clothing. All of my tattoos are connected to special things in my life. My tattoos are deep reminders to myself about loved ones or things I adhere to be.

What were you doing before you became a tattoo artist? And what does tattooing mean to you?

I was studying English Literature in the hopes of becoming a high school English teacher. It’s a blessing to work with so much freedom, but it also makes me aware of how complacent and lazy I can sometimes be.

Have you ever done any repetitive tattoos? And have you ever refused to tattoo someone and why?

Yes, all the time but each one is challenging and must be used as a stepping stone for improvement. Sometimes we have to refuse tattoos for people with specific diseases because of shop policy or local legislation. I’ve often refused tattoos that I knew would look bad and would also significantly affect the customers lives negatively.

How can people find you if they want to get a tattoo from you?

Anyone who comes to my shop in Japan! Or contact me through Facebook or Instagram.

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