Adorn With Pearls & Gold Filigree: Interview with Tattooist Lynn Akura

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Adorn With Pearls & Gold Filigree: Interview with Tattooist Lynn Akura

We interviewed Lynn Akura, known for her powerful portraits of goddesses and warriors adorned with delicate details of gold and pearls.

Lynn Akura's work immediately recalls memories of mysticism set against a backdrop of legendary medieval heroes, deities, and goddesses. Although commonly called a Neo-traditional artist, she has developed a style that calls upon Art Nouveau, Irezumi, and more to create works of depth and magic. Carefully adorning her jewel-toned pieces with details of intricate filigree, floral motifs, shining pearls, and more, her portraiture is incredibly eye catching, while objects and animals are also endowed with a folkloric quality that her clients and fans just can't get enough of. 

How did you get into tattooing and how did you know it was what you wanted to do?

I studied illustration and graphic novels and I was hoping to become a cartoonist. Unfortunately, it wasn’t so easy to get contracts when I just came out of university. I had that passion for the Japanese arts and was fascinated by Irezumi. I decided to fly to Tokyo and try to get an apprenticeships there which, when I think about it now, was absolutely unthinkable and ludicrous but I was young and believed that I would succeed. It didn’t happen obviously...However, I was blessed to meet Hideo Uchiyama San and watch him working in his Shibuya studio.

After spending time there, I came back to Belgium and started practising with the little I knew about tattooing. Tattooing for me has been, and is still a never ending quest of perfection, and I have spent many years mixed with enthusiasm and frustration.

How would you describe your style and what artists do you look up to?

A lot of people put me in the neotraditional ranks. I think what I do is quite similar. To be honest I don’t know what my style really is, it’s a synthesis of baroque painting, art-nouveau, semi realistic things that my brain produces. I look up at mainly painters and my favourites are Michelangelo da Caravaggio, Rembrandt and Alphonse Mucha.

In terms of tattoo artists, I can tell you so many but those who come in mind are Claudia De Sabe, as well as Mike Dorsey, whose level of creativity is incredible...Mike Moses also does something that’s out of this world.

Your portraits of women are stunning and inspiring. Each one seems to have her own story. How do you build characters with such depth? Do your clients give you ideas, or do you usually have full artistic rein?

Thank you so much for the compliment! I usually start my lady’s portraits with a lot of thinking that usually lead no where. Eventually, I place myself in front of a sheet of paper and start by building a face. It’s only then that my ideas start to shoot and it reveals itself. Most of the time I feel more like a spectator rather than the creator. Usually my customers give me a theme for the piece, as well as some references to show me a direction but after that, they let me do my thing. I am blessed that they put their trust in me.

You’ve been tattooing since 1999, which is an incredible amount of experience. How has tattooing changed from then to now? What has your experience been like as a woman in a, generally, male dominated industry?

I have been tattooing since 1999, and it seems like I started yesterday. It’s been an incredible experience, allowed me to tattoo across the globe, to make great friends and to be part of a great community. Personally the difference of being a woman in this craft has rarely been felt.

A lot of things have changed in almost 20 years, the industry has boomed for the good but also for the worst. Lots of kids nowadays see this profession as an easy way to get money. But the golden days are gone and that thought is wrong.  Tattooing has become highly competitive race and those who think that tattooing is just about following a stencil won’t last very long. If you want to commit to it, you have to spend endless hours on your drawings.

Can you tell us more about how traveling affects your artwork? What has been your favorite place?

Traveling left a massive impact on my work, and made me so full of inspiration. My favourite places are of course Tokyo and a lot of other places in Japan. I also fell in love with the true last wilderness that is the Okavango Delta in Botswana, Africa. I have a soft spot for Nashville Tennessee and Montreal Quebec as well...

Beyond tattooing, what are you passionate about? What would you be doing if you weren’t a tattoo artist and what do you wish you had more time for?

Beyond tattooing, I am passionate about my two dogs and about horses with whom I grew up with. I have a passion for lapidary and Georgian and Art Deco era jewelry. Oh, and I am also a total petrol head. Yes, all of these things mixed together. If I had more time to myself I’d love to learn goldsmithing but I guess it will have to wait a bit.

Do you have any collabs, projects, guest spots, etc, that you’d like to share?

I still have a piece in the exhibition ‘Tattooed’ that’s touring around the world at the moment. The last place it took place was Los Angeles’s Natural History Museum. The next location is yet to be announced. I will also be part of an exhibition at the Arts Factory gallery in Paris very soon and working on it at the moment.

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