Jack Mosher aka Horimouja was born and raised in Michigan: when you notice that his studio, Body Armor Tattoo, is also based in the wonderfully named Kalamazoo, Michigan, you might get the impression that the man is something of a home-body. You’d be wrong, though; for this artist, travelling is essential to his calling. To tattoo well, he says, there’s a balance to be struck between maintaining the isolation necessary for individual creativity and assimilating the multitude of things you’ll learn by exploring cultures, lands and lives the world over.
Jack has been travelling to Japan once or twice a year since 2000, studying with the masters and taking the time to gather approval and acceptance from his teachers. There, he learned traditional Japanese tattoo methods, and earned a nickname that evolved from a pronunciation of his surname, meaning “monster!” We’re hard pressed to see how it has any literal application, however…
Jack started off in his career as a tattooist with strengths in tribal and ethnic styles. He has an openly realistic perspective on his job, saying, “the best tattooists do everything…always remember you have to make a living.” When Jack decided to learn the ropes of the Japanese traditional style, his background in tribal meant that he saw the task as part of a natural progression; both tribal and Japanese tattoos involve covering the entire body in art, after all, and tattoos that extend to eventually cover the whole body are his idea of the best way to decorate a person’s skin.
The culture and art that he discovered in the Far East has had a clear effect on Jack; the tattooist has nine books published on Japanese art, Buddhism and mythology, but he says, “I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface.” Working to bridge the language gap is what he names as his biggest chore, but he’s clearly not one to stint, as he says “all I do is work – for me, this is fun, this is what gets me up in the morning.” We should note as well that this is a man trained in the martial arts. And fluently conversant in spiritual philosophy. And…exceptionally, astoundingly skilled in the practice of creating pictures on skin.
His colours are as elegant as they are vibrant; the mellow gold of a jewelry-effect neckpiece, the sinister orange of a devil’s eye, the deep classic pine-green of a skull-hatted fox marching across a man’s calf. His lines and shading are delicate, measured, clearly influenced by the Japanese traditional education he’s had and simultaneously a clear product of years of graft and experience.
For those of us hoping to perhaps follow Jack down the tattooists’ career path, his advice is short and sweet: “work hard!” and further – “never leave the house without a sketchbook!” If you’re feeling more of a yen for a tattoo as opposed to a career plan, however, we couldn’t recommend Mister Jack Mosher higher or faster. Particularly if you’ve got plans for something Japanese traditional that’s both the product of a traditionally taught tattooist and unique; or if you want to break the bounds and go for any imaginable tattoo that’s excellently individual and painstakingly wrought. All that and inevitably an intelligent conversation to go with it…Jack Mosher aka Horimouja - 100 Japanese Designs