Joe Stratford

The Golden Age of Hong Kong Tattooing - VICE Video

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I'm not too familiar with Jimmy, but did he really rip on Horiyoshi III for not free handing everything when his kois (past and present) look like Sardine Penises? He doesn't seem very passionate about tattooing, just seems to be in it for the money. Disappointing.

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Rad. A man of the old school. Vice makes the best tattoo docs. Any idea why they stopped doing Tattoo Age?

I think Chris Grosso is doing food docs now with Vice.

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Great vid, thanks for sharing.

I'm not too familiar with Jimmy, but did he really rip on Horiyoshi III for not free handing everything when his kois (past and present) look like Sardine Penises? He doesn't seem very passionate about tattooing, just seems to be in it for the money. Disappointing.

I figure it's because he is from the era where tattooing wasn't a "thing" or a "lifestyle" and the only way to get into it was to be born in, which he was. He even said that he wasn't that smart or good at anything else so he just took on his family's trade. I'd say he's truly of the old school, where he didn't have the luxury to follow his dreams or whatever, but had to make ends meet somehow.

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Great vid, thanks for sharing.

I figure it's because he is from the era where tattooing wasn't a "thing" or a "lifestyle" and the only way to get into it was to be born in, which he was. He even said that he wasn't that smart or good at anything else so he just took on his family's trade. I'd say he's truly of the old school, where he didn't have the luxury to follow his dreams or whatever, but had to make ends meet somehow.

I can agree with that viewpoint, though I personally would have too much of a conscience to be permanently marking someone with poorly drawn tattoos just to make ends meet. Then again, that shit happens all the time to this day!

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I can agree with that viewpoint, though I personally would have too much of a conscience to be permanently marking someone with poorly drawn tattoos just to make ends meet. Then again, that shit happens all the time to this day!

that shit happens right on TV and the tattooers think they actually have a chance at $100K and the chance to be called Inkmaster! ;)

i think every tattooer has to struggle with that conscience right from beginning, because no one starts off good at tattooing. i'm sure most actually start off fucking up a lot of tattoos before the learning curve starts to be a little more vertical. during that learning period, people with high morals, standards, and goals might think "holy shit.. I'm fucking this up. I need to get better!" and they work at it.

others, with perhaps less morals, standards, and goals, might not find the need to improve since their ends are meeting and that IS their goal.

on the other hand, in that day and age and all circumstance, he probably WAS the motherfuckin standard! if you want to get a koi tattoo and you're living in that era and area, you're getting a sardine penis tattoo... no ifs, ands, or buts about it. if you don't want it, you can get the fuck out.

it might sound immoral, but like the Canada Bill Jones' quote from Rounders, "It's immoral to let a sucker keep his money."

like you said, there's plenty of that shit happening to this day and there's no real reason for it. plenty of bad tattoos going into skin, but no shortage of good tattooers. the client gets what they ask for and what they pay for. in the case of Inkmaster, I don't think the "human canvasses" are paying for shit and some of them walk out wearing exactly what they paid for.

no matter what, this dude Jimmy Ho is a G... still holding it down with one glove. I hope he's saved and invested enough to live well once he's done tattooing.

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on the other hand, in that day and age and all circumstance, he probably WAS the motherfuckin standard! if you want to get a koi tattoo and you're living in that era and area, you're getting a sardine penis tattoo... no ifs, ands, or buts about it. if you don't want it, you can get the fuck out.

it might sound immoral, but like the Canada Bill Jones' quote from Rounders, "It's immoral to let a sucker keep his money."

like you said, there's plenty of that shit happening to this day and there's no real reason for it. plenty of bad tattoos going into skin, but no shortage of good tattooers. the client gets what they ask for and what they pay for. in the case of Inkmaster, I don't think the "human canvasses" are paying for shit and some of them walk out wearing exactly what they paid for.

no matter what, this dude Jimmy Ho is a G... still holding it down with one glove. I hope he's saved and invested enough to live well once he's done tattooing.

I find it hard to consider him the "standard" when you had the likes of Horihide, Sailor Jerry, and Horiyoshi II tattooing around the same time Jimmy was in his prime.

Going from Jimmy's work like this :

312916_292623837444853_1163789522_n.jpg?oh=86229dda19e785a51cce636fcf77ab5d&oe=551215D5

to his work now:

JimmyHo.png

Compared to work from other Japanese artists from back in the day:

ab0c836d7263f0cd1ff01fef2df572c2.jpg

Regardless of his history or time spent tattooing, his work is bordering on Craigslist quality when compared to his contemporaries.

That being said, I can appreciate his perseverance throughout the years, despite openly admitting it is just the pay the bills.

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I find it hard to consider him the "standard" when you had the likes of Horihide, Sailor Jerry, and Horiyoshi II tattooing around the same time Jimmy was in his prime.

don't get me wrong, we have the privilege of the interwebs and hindsight to know who the worldwide standards were back then and currently. this is why i specified circumstance, era, and area... i'm pretty sure hong kong tattoo clients didn't have tattoo mags to peruse or an internet to surf and they likely weren't flying to japan or hawaii to get tattooed.

the koi back piece you showed was probably the dopest thing on the block! looking at it, the peony and finger waves aren't all that bad... plenty of artists these days would do worse with a shit ton of reference at their fingertips. the design of the koi could definitely use help, but he says himself in the video that he never learned to draw. even if that client was a "westerner" and he took that tattoo back to the midwestern US, it would probably STILL be the dopest thing on the block and the local tattooers wouldn't know where to start.

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don't get me wrong, we have the privilege of the interwebs and hindsight to know who the worldwide standards were back then and currently. this is why i specified circumstance, era, and area... i'm pretty sure hong kong tattoo clients didn't have tattoo mags to peruse or an internet to surf and they likely weren't flying to japan or hawaii to get tattooed.

the koi back piece you showed was probably the dopest thing on the block! looking at it, the peony and finger waves aren't all that bad... plenty of artists these days would do worse with a shit ton of reference at their fingertips. the design of the koi could definitely use help, but he says himself in the video that he never learned to draw. even if that client was a "westerner" and he took that tattoo back to the midwestern US, it would probably STILL be the dopest thing on the block and the local tattooers wouldn't know where to start.

Of course the internet helps immensely and there is far more exposure to what makes a good tattoo (conversely, I had my first exposure to artists like Paul Booth through the ex-biker boyfriend of my boss at a retail store when I was a kid). That being said, even when I was completely new to tattooing, it wasn't hard to differentiate between a well drawn tattoo (in this instance, a koi) and a poorly drawn, poorly proportioned one. I had many chances to get large pieces I was interested in from local (within 2-3 hour drive) tattooers when I first got into tattooing, but I knew it would be worth holding out for the right artist. I would rather abstain until I could find an artist with the ability to tattoo what I want rather than just settle for a piece that I could pick obvious rudimentary flaws with.

The era, location, and difficulty to discover tattoo artists obviously comes into play in Jimmy's case, but if you're serious about wanting a tattoo done a certain way, you can find a way to get in touch with and travel to these artists (much like, to a lesser extent, people are doing to get appointments with Roper nowadays).

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In case any of you guys are on Instagram, Jimmy Ho now has an account on there where he posts a mixture of old tattoos/flash and shop life photos. It's probably the best way to keep informed of his past and present.

You can find it here www.instagram.com/jimmyhotattoo

I'm not in any way affiliated with his shop. Just a fellow tattooers in Hong Kong who appreciates his legacy and hopes to help preserve it.

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