My New Ink -Horiyen Tattoo

Last weekend I finally had my first tattoo sleeve session with master Jess Yen of My Tattoo. Jess is the consummate professional and is truly the best artist in the country. He recently won the Tattoo Society/Tony Romel Award for best artist of 2009. I was very impressed  with his work several months ago when I first read about him, but after having the outline of my tattoo completed I can totally relate to another of his clients that quoted him as being “phenomenal”.

With a normal waiting list of 2 years, I was fortunate to secure a starting spot within a couple months since I was willing to travel to two tattoo conventions that MyTattoo was participating in.

I had changed the subject matter somewhat since my initial consultation. I originally wanted a full sleeve to include an oriental woman’s face to represent my wife, along with a Koi fish and Chrysanthemum flowers. Since my wife wasn’t so keen on the woman face idea I had decided to go with Koi and a Dragon.  When I arrived for the session, Jess explained that these would be a rather common and easy replicable elements and that it would be better to have something much more individual.  Jess mentioned two additional custom schemes and I chose to go with 2 Koi fish, water, Peony flowers, and a Daruma face(

Also included are the characters for my wife’s middle name – Keiko- in Hiragana (similar to Kanji) and a skull (for my grandson Darius).  I chose the Koi as the central theme as it symbolizes courage, the ability to atain high goals and overcome life’s difficulties. While there are many meanings associated with the Daruma, those that I identify with are those of an undaunted spirit , resilience and determination.  The Peony flowers have long history in Chinese and Japanese cultures an are considered symbols of wealth, prosperity and good fortune.  I had initially chosen the Crysanthemum for its asthetic qualities, but learned that they represent death or mourning and are often used in remembrance.  The skull while represtative of death also speaks to the fact of the  impermanence of life.

I had been debating whether to just go with a  half sleeve for professional (as well as economical) reasons. I’m so glad I made the decision to have a full sleeve done as opposed to a half sleeve now that I see the beginning of this project. The full sleeve just has a lot more flow and feels like a complete piece of unrestrained art. Besides, I knew if I had only got the half sleeve I would have regretted not going all the way. I have the utmost confidence in Horiyen to carry out this project for me.


4 thoughts on “My New Ink -Horiyen Tattoo

  1. Hi

    I just wanted to say that is some stunning linework you have had done.
    As one ink enthusiast to another – you did the right thing!

    Looks great.

    Take Care

  2. Hi, I just stumbled across your blog. I met Horiyen for the first time today at the San Jose Convention; I can’t believe I wasn’t already familiar with him given my affinity for Japanese-style work. Looks like yours is going to be awesome based on the line work (and from what I’ve seen of his other work). Can you give me any insight into the wait list? I know I wouldn’t be comfortable doing a session at a shows, but his apprentices mentioned to me today that otherwise it’s a two year wait (I’m familiar with certain other artists who have two year wait lists that are really more between 6 and 9 months if you don’t get scared away by the initial two year wait). Please continue to post as I’d like to follow the progression. Once again, very nice!

    • Hi Jon,
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my blog and thanks for the compliment on the tattoo.
      I was at the San Jose Convention yesterday having stage 3 done on the tattoo. Jess worked on it all day from 12:30 until 10:30PM! He completed all of the black & gray shading and started a little bit of color work.
      When it comes to this style work Jess is the best artist there is in the country IMHO. The wait list is real, but sometimes things happen and they are able to squeeze you in less time. The only way I got in was to travel to Vegas and San Jose and I might have to go to another one also.
      It also depends I think how serious you are about and the possibly the scope of the project. If you can set up a consultation with him he will give you the straight up scoop.
      I’ll be posting some shots of the work done yesterday pretty soon. It will also be posted on the My Tattoo website for in progress work. I read somewhere online where someone spoke of Horiyen as being phenomenal. I would definitely classify his work in that realm. He is a consummate professional and true artist who works extremely hard at his craft.

  3. When I dropped by the booth, there was one guy sitting on the end of the booth who was having back work done (gray hair and he already had sleeves and a lot of his back done). I only briefly saw Horiyen, and introduced myself, but he was just walking past the booth at the time.

    Would you share with me how much he charges (his apprentices tried to tell me, but it was so loud and there was a bit of an accent that I couldn’t hear [and didn’t want to harp on it b/c price really shouldn’t be an issue when it comes to work as good as his] (I think he was telling me it was in the same ball park as what Horitomo charges) and how the logistics of the consultation process worked for you (i.e., how long to get the consult/how did you get in for that (did you have to tell them in advance you were willing to go conventions for work); then what)? If you want to discuss that off line that’s fine too.

    (BTW: A lot of folks on I’m sure would enjoy watching your sleeve progress –there’s a core group of us who really enjoy and appreciate the Japanese style.) Cheers

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