American, b. 1966
Aaron Bell has spent the past twenty years studying traditional Japanese tattoo to perfect his large-scale designs.
When he began tattooing, Bell worked in the style of the 1980s and 90s punk scene – with lots of skulls. That changed in 2000, when he was introduced to traditional Japanese irezumi (tattoo). His illustration of Kintarō, a folk hero who killed the giant carp that had eaten his mother at Bishamon Waterfall, demonstrates his adroit use of color and his detailed and complex incorporation of traditional symbolism. Kintarō was based on a samurai from Heian period (794-1185) in Japan and remains a popular character in contemporary video games and anime.
Over the years I expanded my travels to include overseas, taking my first trip to Japan in 2002. It was then that I fell in love with the Japanese style … the environment I’ve created continues to allow me plenty of extra wiggle room for keeping the boundaries of self-expression nice and wide. I continue to experiment in the arts and am just as weird—if not weirder—than when I started this life.