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A day in the life of a traditional Japanese tattoo artist

If you thought you had to travel all the way to Japan to experience the traditional form of Japanese tattooing, think again – it’s right here in Surry Hills, Sydney.  

Horisumi–Kian Forreal is one of the industry’s most prominent traditional Japanese tattoo artists and opened his own studio, Authentink Studio, in 2013 after the culmination of 23 years’ hard work, world travel, study, discipline and perseverance. 

Originally from Canada, Kian acquired his first tattoo in 1986 and since then his passion for tattoos has taken over his world.  Kian is proficient in all custom tattooing styles, from small on-point pieces to sleeves, back pieces and full Japanese bodysuits and has earned a reputation for being one of the best and most prominent artists in his field.

So what does a day in the life look like of someone in this space? We find out!

A day in the life of Horisumi–Kian Forreal

As the owner of one of the busiest custom tattoo studios in Australia my day starts pretty early! I usually get up at 7am and eat some fruit for breakfast with my baby daughter before heading out to the gym, for a run or to martial arts class.  As I sit on my ass all day at work I need to do something physical every day to stay fit and keep the blood flowing strong. Running not only keeps my head straight and my body lean but also lets me see some outdoors and sunshine daily which I definitely need in my life.

After all my personal morning activities and rituals I get into the studio around 10 and go through the day with my staff, make sure I know about anything unusual and I brief them on my day ahead so we are all on the same page. I purposely seat myself in the middle of the busiest area of the studio so I can see and hear all that transpires throughout the day while I myself am tattooing. I run my studio like a pirate ship with myself as the captain, obviously, and my trusted staff on the deck running the show and dealing with the artists and clients alike. It works very well as I make everyone understand that they are stakeholders in the business and how it runs, not just myself.  We all break and eat lunch together in the afternoon, I try to bring my own home cooked lunch when I can as I am tired off all the local take out but sometimes you have to eat what’s available. I prefer a salad of organic meats and fresh salads when possible and some rice of course to back it up.

In a customer service industry such as tattooing you are constantly dealing with a multitude of personalities and small issues, every day is like Tetris solving all the little issues and making it all fit nicely. This is a part of the work I really enjoy, making everyone come together and be happy in the end.

Coffee is the fuel that makes the shop run, we have a professional level 7 coffee machine here so there are no hiccups in supply and we all get what we need throughout the day. Most of us are healthy eaters here so we try to avoid soft drinks or sugar throughout the day, but after work more than a few beers are drank to unwind.

The days are long here so after all is said and done I usually don’t get home until 7:30pm to eat a lovely home cooked meal by my wife and with my beautiful daughter. We eat and laugh and then usually watch a show together before she gets put to bed for the evening and I start my night routine of either preparing artwork for the next day or painting something for myself. Most of my nights are spent doing something creative at least for a few hours… otherwise I just get lost binge watching TV series and nothing good comes of that.

I put aside at least one of my days off as family time to spend with my girls where I do my best to leave work behind and just enjoy their company and do simple things like going for walks along the beach and playing in the park.  Those are the best days!