Rory Pickersgill’s Awe-Inspiring Traditional Japanese Tattoos

Here are some bold traditional Japanese tattoos of mythological creatures and yokai by Rory Pickersgill.

Any quality piece of Irezumi tends to be arresting, but some artists make traditional Japanese tattoos that are so impactful you can’t help getting enraptured by their grandeur. Rory Pickersgill creates this sort of body art. His work is remarkable for its bold yet pristine appearance that brings out the sublime qualities of the mythological figures. Using an intense level of contrast between his dark backgrounds and eye-catching central images, he underscores not only the powerful essence of Irezumi’s imagery but also the cultural significance that it carries.

Pickersgill is an extremely well-rounded tattooist, and some of his most astounding compositions are those done in traditional Japanese. His Irezumi is remarkable for its bold yet highly refined aesthetic. Using forceful linework and vibrant color palettes, he creates pronounced central figures. In his large-scale pieces, he surrounds them with dense black backgrounds and broad greywash clouds, waves, and windbars. The way he combines these techniques produces an extremely clean-cut and visually striking spin on the style.

Of all of Irezumi’s impressive iconography, Pickersgill favors its creatures and yokai. He turns his clients’ appendages into serene koi ponds and scenes of dragons ascending to heaven or soaring down to earth to grant wishes with magical pearls. His depictions of the demons and monsters that appear in Japanese mythology, like kappas, hannyas, and other fearsome figures, all have a sinister look to them, as if they’re about to lunge out at the viewer and drag him or her to a watery grave. Not all of his compositions have such an ominous vibe, though; his geishas are quite the soothing sight to behold.

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Pickersgill’s take on the traditional Japanese style has an immensely attention-commanding presence on the body, but it’s the way that it highlights the significance of figures like dragons and geishas that is most compelling. Through foregrounding his figures in such a prominent way, he elevates them to the divine status they deserve, expressing a reverence for cultural connotations that they embody.

To see more of Pickersgill’s traditional Japanese tattoos as well as his work in other styles, check out his Instagram. He works at Blue Blood Tattoo in Amsterdam, Netherlands and Classic Tattoo in Red Deer, Canada and can be contacted at for booking if you want a Irezumi back-piece or sleeve from him.

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