Johan Svahn is a kickass Irezumi tattooist. His work brims over with attitude, detail, and color. Though his approach to the aged style is thoroughly traditional, his aesthetic sensibilities come out in the expressions and postures as well as the color palettes of his figures, such as dragons, hannya masks, and more. What's even cooler is that he illustrates some of the less common iconography from the genre, like heikegani and baku, as well.
Svahn is such a master of classic Irezumi iconography that he's been able to enhance it with his own flare. The sleeves featuring flowers and a foo dog above show his more colorful take on the traditional style. The hannya and oni are also great examples of how exaggerated the facial expressions of his figures can be. The dragon, fox, and disembodied foo dog head show what happens when you take this expressiveness to the extreme.
It's incredible just how elaborate his large-scale pieces can be. Perhaps more so than any of the other examples, the incredible detail present in Svahn's work is best exemplified by his depiction of a baku, an elephant-like spirit from Japanese mythology that devours nightmares. The close-up shots show just how rich this sleeve is in color, detail, and textures. Blood is flowing from its trunk and running all over the black backgrounding among the chrysanthemums and peonies. Also, the curmudgeonly expression on his heikegani is absolutely priceless.
We hope you liked this installment of fantastic Irezumi from Svahn's portfolio. We regularly feature artists who work in this style, so keep your eye out for more. Also, if you want to see more of his work, he has an Instagram. Also, he tattoos in Malmö, Sweden, so if you're in that part of the world and want some stellar traditional tattoos, seek him out.