Bodysuit tattooing

Gregs sole focus is aimed at semi-traditional Japanese bodysuit tattooing, which means bodysuit or one of the building blocks thereof.

The central piece of a Japanese bodysuit is the backpiece which occupies the whole bachside from neck till about 8 to 10 inches below the buttocks. This is the biggest area of the body that can be tattooed and viewed at one glimpse. The rest of the tattoos support the story you want to tell with the backpiece.

The subject matter is enhanced by background consisting of the elements spiral clouds, clouds, rocks, water, fire, waves and so called wind bars. Potentually you can add secondary elements to this to specifie passing tides or general atmosphere like cherryblossoms or maple leafs. Who then become a reoccuring element throughout the suit.

You can start and interrupt a Japanese bodysuit in several ways. Important to notice is that there are different ways to tattoo a man or a women.

For example you start with the backpiece. For a man with background, which makes it more powerfull. For a women we don't use the background so as to make it more feminine.

Next step are arms and chest. For males more chest, for a woman just a little more shoulder in the front going to the chest. Arms can be full sleeve, 3/4 or half-sleeve for males, for females always 3/4 sleeve because this gives it a distinguished feminine look.

Themes from left and right are sub-divided into feminine themes on the left and male themes on the right. An example is a dragon with an open mouth on the right, dragon mouth closed on the left. Another example a koi swimming up on the right, a koi swimming down on the left. The elements and the background of the arms are consistent with those on the back. Subject matter on the front correspond with the story of the backpiece.

This sequence is interchangable which means you can start arm/chest then other arm/chest followed with a backpiece. You can stop or pause at any moment. One sleeve is also very cool. And when that is finished you can still decide if you would like to continue. The good thing: it's an open ending and you decide. 2 sleeves? Superb! without the need to add anything else.

Are you continuing for the suit, then after backpiece and sleeves the side panels till about 1 or 2 inches above the knee get covered. Adding this to your backpiece you are now the proud owner of a so-called short suit. 3/4 or half sleeves fit best with a short suit. Did you go for full sleeves, it makes more sense to go for a full suit which intailes from ankles to neck to wrists. As a finalisation it is custom to taka a ' Shunga" small erotic, humoristic design in the armpits or between the thighs.

It's also possible to get long life symbols on your feet. Personal symbols can be added on the frontal mid-section of your side panels. Tattoos on hands and neck aren't really traditional Japanese but are becoming more common. Also sacred symbols on the top of the head within the hairline are becoming more frequent.

This is the way to a bodysuit in short. So it will take some time before you are actually ready. To get a short suit in 3 years time for example, is fairly quick. A full suit can take up to 5 to 10 years. Often one likes to pause and enjoy the open ending or simply save up for the next step in the process.

The latter can also be done in the shop; you can make regular downpayments as to always have enough credit do not disturb the process. The appointments are made every 1.,2,3 or 4 weeks, same day, same time. So as to establish a rhythm. This is most beneficial to the tattooist and yourself. And the result will be as such.

As the backgrounds and style of the tattooist in question remain constant you'll see this throughout the suit, and that's what makes a bodysuit a real bodysuit. A fully tattooed body from neck to ankles is not per se a bodysuit. That is only the case when the whole comes together and there is a harmony and a soft powerfull grace to be seen.

Suppose after two sleeves you want to change tattooist. In most cases this is not advicable, but in concideration it can yield a good result. At least always do it with respect and honouring the one who started your bodysuit story. Example: you got two cool sleeves from Greg and you would like a backpiece from Amar, Chris Garver, Horiyshi of whomever. Consider that top-tattooists mutually admire and respect each others tattoos so with some dialogue nobody loses face, which will enhance everybody's feeling of well-beeing. Not you in the least. Should you in the meanwhile whilst on holiday or as a token to a friend have a part tattooed that was destined for the bodysuit, the tattooist who started your suit can decide to not continue the tattoo. So be wise and honour the tattoo process. This works both ways, of course.


Greg Orie