The Queue: Takahiro Kitamura

The Queue: Takahiro Kitamura

Discover what individuals from our craft community are into right now.

Published on Monday, August 24, 2020.
Takahiro Kitamura with his French Bulldog

↑ Tattoo artist Takahiro Kitamura is the owner of State of Grace Tattoo in San Jose, California. In the Beauty issue of American Craft, he shares an object story about a statue carved by his mother.
Photo: Courtesy of Takahiro Kitamura

Introducing the Beauty series of The Queue

A weekly roundup for and by the craft community, the Beauty series of The Queue introduces you to the makers, writers, curators, and more featured in the most recent issue of American Craft. We invite them to share their shortlist of exciting projects, people to follow, and content to consume to help you stay dialed into what's happening in the world of making.

Where craft and beauty combine, there is culture

Takahiro "Ryudaibori" Kitamura is a tattoo artist and owner of State of Grace Tattoo based in San Jose, California. In his Object Story in the August/September 2020 issue of American Craft, he shares about a Fudõ Myõ-õ statue, handcarved by his mother, that helps energize and focus his practice. @stateofgracetaki

How do you describe your work or practice in 50 words or less?
I am a tattoo artist focusing on the rich Japanese tradition, and I try to convey the cultural legacy put forth by artisans of the past. We may use electric machines now and social media, but the one-on-one exchange of art to skin remains relatively pure to its origins. In a time when people are so in need of cultural expression, I am happy to provide this service.

In these times of COVID-19 isolation, social unrest, and calls for change, where are you finding beauty?
I find beauty in humanity during these troubling times. We are being constantly bombarded with stories of evil and despair, it makes me appreciate the good in the world. I am also awestruck by nature and all her glory, and getting out of the house and to the beach have been wonderful for us. I also have to say that my wife and I would not make it without our two French bulldogs!

Takahiro Kitamura at work on a tattoo

↑ Takahiro's work draws upon traditional Japanese tattooing.
Photo: Courtesy of Takahiro Kitamura

Cover of White Tears by Hari Kunzru

What are your thoughts on the relationship between craft and beauty?
I think craft and beauty go together hand in hand. Even if a crafted object is not beautiful to you, the expression and love of the artisan who created it makes it so. I guess with tattooing, we hope to combine craft and beauty to make art and culture. Ideally, art is the perfect marriage of craft and beauty.

What book should we be reading or paying attention to right now?
White Tears by Hari Kunzru. It’s an amazing novel and also very relevant during these times.

If you could purchase any artists' work for your home or studio, whose would it be and why?
I especially love woodblock prints by Kuniyoshi, but the list of art I would buy if I were a millionaire is endless. I love woodblock prints because of their significance to Japanese tattooing (they are the visual foundation) but also because they are the perfect mix of art and craft.

Are you binge-watching anything right now?
Marco Polo, #blackAF, and we love the show Yellowstone!

What’s your favorite social media post you’ve seen recently?
I’ve really been enjoying ocean life and French bulldog Instagram accounts lately. The ocean reminds me of how insignificant we are and how beautiful and powerful the earth is… and French bulldogs because, well, they’re adorable.
 

We may use electric machines now and social media, but the one-on-one exchange of art to skin remains relatively pure to its origins. In a time when people are so in need of cultural expression, I am happy to provide this service.
Tiger woodblock print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi

↑ Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Tiger, 1842, kakemono-e woodblock print, 9.8 in. x 28.3 in.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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