Knowing your passion is only the first step in making it into a lifelong career. Knowing how you will apply what you love and getting out of your comfort zone to do it, takes a lot of courage and time. Kazuaki Horitomo knew he wanted to be a tattoo artist but when he got the chance to make his dream a reality, he felt stifled. Rather than give up on what he loved, he changed his course, still keeping his eyes on tattooing.
"What I envisioned in 15 years was not very attractive to me," he admits. Still, he kept grinding. He worked for fours years in Japan, perfecting his craft but felt suffocated, admitting "it wasn't a healthy state of mind."
He came up with Monmon Cats based on Tebori, a Japanese technique of tattooing by hand. Horitomo’s Monmon Cats derived its name from Monmon, slang for tattoos in Japanese.
The felines are covered in colourful and intricate tattoos. He has released two books, one aptly named Monmon Cats Book, and Immovable: Fudo Myo-O Tattoo Design by Horitomo.
Horitomo knew there were already several tattooists in America at that time that could make traditional Japanese design tattoos.
For example, those who had tattoos of a Buddhist image did not know its meaning, and sometimes the image itself was incorrectly designed. As a result, he published Immovable: Fudo Myo-O Tattoo Design by Horitomo, in an effort to educate tattoo artists and aficionados as well.
"The vocabulary we use to talk about tattoos is limited. If we could tell stories that would reach a deeper level in people’s hearts, it would deepen their understanding of Japanese tattoos, making it true and real," Haritomo explains.