Chris Hirakawa


How long have you been tattooing and how did you start your tattooing journey?


I’ve been tattooing for about 4 years now. I was hoping to start earlier and I had an apprenticeship lined up when I was 16 but my family moved before I could get started, then I joined the army where everybody said why don’t you tattoo, etc… and then through one of my friends they knew a tattoo artist who I got an apprenticeship with eventually :)! I learned the most from messaging some artists and asking about how to do everything from shading etc and from getting tattooed by people from all around the world I’ve been from America South Korea England France but in each place the artist working on me taught me so much to the point I’m at now 🙂 



Do you remember what was the first tattoo you did? If so, tell us what it was and for who.


Indeed I tattooed someone’s knees with two big smiley faces for this guy who everyone in his family had them which was amazing aha and then I wrapped his knees up in a blue roll and bright pink camo tape so he had some fancy knee pads 👌



Please, tell us about your current tattoo style and how it has changed over the years.

When I first started I tattooed traditional Japanese work as it was my favorite style to do and still holds a dear place in my heart however realism has really taken to my liking in the past couple of years :)! So at the moment, I tattoo using opaque greys which I found work amazing for me because I feel like I can add a lot more detail in my work, before I used to do black and grey realism with greywash which I really liked doing, however, I found that I was working too fast so the opaques really slowed me down and made me appreciate how much I was missing now I can put the most minute details and they’ll stay in like how it was first done 🙂



Does anyone or anything inspire you?

There were a few things that inspired me growing up, the first was my grandfather (kiyoharu) as he liked to paint and we always had a painting he did hang up in the bathroom of Mt Fuji and from then onwards I started to draw every day. In my everyday work, I’m inspired by nature photography and playing with the depth of field in images.



Are there any tattoo artists who are extremely admirable to you? If so who?

There are many artists that I admire 🙂 everyone is very different and have different styles which are all great qualities and thing to learn from however the main person I admire most would be Thomas Carli Jarlier. When I first got Instagram I saw his tattoos and it wasn’t just tattoo looking it more looked like a painting/ photography so from then onwards I was like “I want to be like him” so I tried and tried and eventually got to get tattooed by him which was an amazing experience and he taught me a lot in those sittings which is how I got to tattoo how I do now :)! as he is very humble and is willing to help everyone out as well as an amazing artist 🙂 



Do you have any memorable tattoo story or a customer that has stuck with you through all the time you have been tattooing?


Hmmm… I once tattooed a guy for 14 hours and then he cried a little and then his wife came in and laughed at him but she was the manager at the subway across the road so I got free subways for a month aha 



Is there any art form that fascinates you also except tattooing? Maybe do you have any other passion or something that you really enjoy doing?


I very much like oil painting however I am still learning bits and pieces 🙂 but I do also like making my life easier so I make things to hold or carry machines or tattoo equipment in 🙂 but plants are the one for me… well until I can get a dog hahaha 



Do you like visiting or exhibiting at tattoo conventions? Would you recommend any of them?


Yes, I go to a lot aha! Usually, I go to the London tattoo convention in the tobacco dock but apparently, that’s closed now so other than that I love going to the one in Brighton 🙂 although I’d love to do more conventions as I’ve only worked at one in Italy but America is definitely on the list 🙂



Any artist you planning to get tattooed by? Who has tattooed you already?


I would love to get tattooed by Ralf Nonnweiler, David Vega, or Alex Sorsa :)!! And I’ve been tattooed in a few different places by quite a few people but the most recent ones are jonnyrad in Plymouth, Thomas Carli Jarlier in France, and Tutti Serra in Guildford :)! 



What are your plans and dreams? If you think about yourself in 10 years, what do you see?


I would love to one day when I’m older and settled to have a shop however I’m very content traveling around and meeting new people :)! When I was younger my mum always told me ” there’s always going to be someone better than you, so try to be that better person” so I hopefully will be better and better and I won’t stop learning :)! Also hopefully I’ll be guesting in Australia, America, or Japan :)! 



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