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Mike Dorsey

I am a Cincinnati, Ohio based tattooer and painter, tattooing since 1989. When I started my career in tattooing I leaned more towards an American tattoo style at that time with a very limited encyclopedia what all tattooing imagery encompassed. Keep in mind there were only two magazines at that time and the internet simply didn’t exist. Also to buy any tattoo magazines you had to go to the pornography section of a magazine stand! Times have changed!

Early in my tattoo career I was fortunate enough to attend a photography exhibit at a local gallery that became the amazing book “The Japanese Tattoo” by Sandi Fellman. The photographs were large scale custom made polaroids of amazing tattooing by such Japanese tattoo masters as Horiyoshi II, Horiyoshi III, Horikin, Hirogoro and many more.

They were larger than life photographs and the imagery was fascinating to me and I wanted to learn more. I studied as much as I could get my hands on in books leading me to study much of the imagery’s basis that were Japanese woodblock prints called Ukiyo-e (translated meaning “Images of the floating world”). Again these images made me want to learn more. I wanted to understand the symbolism of what I was looking at. It was fascinating and very foreign to me both literally and figuratively since I was raised in a western culture here in a somewhat of a rural part of the states.

Shortly before this in the mid 80’s, I had another amazing opportunity that would help form my view of powerful art. To avoid the police while skipping high school I ducked into an art gallery that by chance was showing the “Waves and plagues” exhibit by the amazing Masami Teraoka. The art was about awareness of the little known truths at that time of the AIDS epidemic that was sweeping the world. The scale of the paintings was immense and the imagery was powerful. Again something I hoped to attain one day to pass a message and story along.

Tattooing is always my end goal in any art medium since I started and still is. I started painting to layout tattoo designs for myself and my client of what could be done, always leaning back to Ukiyo-e prints for inspiration and continued study of the imagery. As time went on I began branching out in my paintings to tell stories of lost history, current culture, and commentary about our modern cultural dilemma we face everyday.

The artwork being secondary to tattooing became a new way for me to do art. I enjoy using images and symbolism largely derived from ukiyo-e and a bit of more modern and personal symbolism at times that people today could recognize and relate to more easily. I hope they spark an interest in you as much as the images did for me when I attended the photo and gallery exhibition. I also hope they are as powerful as my experience when I attended the Waves and plagues exhibit as a teenager.

in this exhibiton you can see and buy the latest collection of art from this amazing painter.

April 19-20-21 2024

Messe Forum Frankfurt

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