Traditional Japanese Tattooing by Sydney Tattoo Artist – HORISUMI – Kian Forreal | Sydney Tattoo Shops & Sydney Tattoo Studios Australia

Horisumi -Kian Forreal – World Wide Tattoo


Kian Forreal – Horisumi FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions and useful information.

I am located and tattoo in Surry Hills, Sydney, Australia. While I do take on art commissions and attend international tattoo conventions from time to time.. most of my time is spent tattooing in beautiful Australia.

If you would like to considered for a place on the wait list to get large traditional Japanese tattoo, please email me first to confirm that your project is something I am suited for. Once we have established that we can take it further. Thank you!

How it all works. Below is an update blurb that pretty much explains whats going on and how I do it and below that is more useful information for you if you are interested in getting tattoo work from me.

For General info scroll down…

Currently I am only taking names for consults and putting them on a waiting list. The waiting period is listed on my wait list page please refer to these times as they are the current estimates and are updated when necessary.

Traditional Japanese tattoo work of any size and script lettering are what interest me, so if you are coming to me with other requests please email me so I can considered your request and if possible point you in the right direction so as to avoid disappointment. I should be able to confidently recommend one of my talented artist colleagues at different shops throughout the city who specializes in what you are after if it not something for me.

As always, I do some limited cover-ups.. these are decided on a per case basis.. but please, I might request you get some laser treatments to lighten them up a bit first to give us more creative lee way. Please keep this in mind.

If you want something small you can email me and paypal me a deposit,  Small means things like stuff off the wall, your small designs that I can prepare quickly, script lettering thats isn’t huge, symbols, kanji… you get the idea.. I can also do some japanese motifs that I have pre-drawn.. so contact me and lets see what we can do! Generally I leave one weekend day a month where I don’t do anything that takes more than 1 hour from start to finish.

Like I said though, there is a good chance that if it needs to be custom drawn you will need to get on the wait list.. but give me a try over the email ok!

1/2 sleeves, sleeves, and other large stuff needs a consult and multiple pre-booked appointments and cannot be done piecemeal.

Email me to see about getting on my waiting list. it starts with that.

A consultation with me is free of charge. However to make a booking for a tattoo you will need to leave a cash deposit at the time of booking. If you are from out of town or state it is possible to consult via email/skype and send a deposit in the form of a postal money/paypal or bank deposit.

Some Advice

Do your homework first off.

When considering to get some work done ask around and find the shop in your area that has the best reputation and then investigate that reputation. The thing with any business is this, once it gets a good name.. it usually decides to just cruise along and rest on its laurels. Tattoo shops are no exception. Some legendary tattooers from the 80’s or 90’s aren’t fit enough to paint a wall now let alone tattoo something nice and up to date. Word of mouth is the best direction to go in.. ask the local bartender, the heavily tattooed doorman at the club, your hair stylist, the guys at the gym, use a search engine. When you find some artists..Look at their recent photos. Talk to the artists and get a feel for their commitment and passion for what they do, and make sure he/she is the right artist for what you need. Example: a great portrait or realistic tattoo artist is not the guy to be busting out great traditional japanese tattoo work. And the gal who loves doing hyper detailed colour pieces probably should not be doing that tribal leg piece for you. Everyone at the top level of their game has their specialties and the styles that they excel in. Choose wisely and correctly.


If you even have doubts about the hygiene of your tattoo shop. Forget it. It is absolutely necessary that an autoclave is used to sterilize all reusable equipment, tubes etc.. and that all needles are NEW and sterilized everytime. Don’t mess around with this. Spray bottles should have bags on them, the work space should be clean etc.. the artist should be wearing gloves…you should feel secure. Granted this is not surgery and there is no need to wear masks and hospital greens, but there should definitely be a level of cleanliness that inspires confidence.

Summer Winter Spring or Fall?

Best time of year to get work done, big or small is of course… fall/winter. Makes it easy to stay out of the sun, easy to stay out of the water, easy to keep covered while healing and all around a good idea. And when summer does roll around and your new tattoo is a well healed seasoned tattoo it can take some abuse from the sun and hard living without being affected much. Always use WHITE ZINC cream to reflect the UV rays if you plan getting direct sun on it. Normal sunblock does not do much to protect the pigment in your tattoo. Please see Sun Aftercare for more information

If your artist has a recent portfolio of great work, give him some creative license.

Chances are he or she knows what they are talking about. Discuss ideas and concepts indepth but don’t be scared to have faith in your artist and trust him to what he does best. For this it helps to meet and speak with other clients of theirs if possible and see work in the first person.

Avoid tattooing hands, face and neck. Especially face – these are ‘jobstopper’ tattoos and you will live to regret them.

Don’t copy your friends tattoo or one off the internet

Take the time to heal your tattoo properly.

Some Questions Answered

Does is hurt?

Anything in life worth doing involves some physical and mental pain and/or discomfort. Some examples of this include: going to the gym and training, giving birth, mountain climbing, being in love, learning a language, learning a sport, being beautiful (ladies will know what I am talking about) and many many other things that we all do or contemplate doing on a daily basis. The pain of a tattoo is mild, short lasting and ceases as soon as the tattoo is complete. There is only discomfort whilst the ink is actually being put into the skin. This is not a constant process, it is many stops and starts and one usually gets used to it after only a few minutes. Your greatest enemy before getting a tattoo is your imagination running wild with the thought of it all. Its not that bad, if it was I would not be in business and you wouldn’t be reading this. All you need to do is wrap your head around and take the plunge.. some people actually enjoy the sensation and everybody can tolerate it.

Colours fade.

Everything fades with time, how long depends on how much sun you expose the tattoo to, your artist and the inks he/she uses, and of course how well you heal it initially. A properly healed good colour tattoo using high quality materials should stay bright, crisp and colourful for at least 15-20 years without a touch-up.

I don’t like colour tattoos, they never last and look blurry.

Things have changed since the days of your grandpa’s world war 2 tattoos. A nice mix of colour in a well composed tattoo design is something to behold, don’t discount the idea of colour without looking through photos of your artists work and seeing for yourself what is possible these days. If healed properly a colour tattoo can definately stand the test of time, even with moderate sun exposure.

It hurts more over the bone.

Bullshit, it hurts everywhere pretty much the same for the first 5-15 minutes (there are exceptions of course). The bone feels a bit sharp from time to time due to thinness of skin but then again it hurts some on the ass too and there ain’t much bone there. Its all about nerve location. Placing your tattoo based on perceived pain is a weak move, get it where you want it and where it will look good. The pain is only temporary but the glory lasts a lifetime.

Is it dangerous to tattoo over veins?

No, if your artist is going that deep you’ll know it before he hits the veins because that shit will hurt! A properly applied tattoo is only entering the skin layers and not penetrating into muscle, bone or veins ever. You’ll hear this from me over and over again: make sure you see recent photos of your artists work, check for line consistency, smooth shading and solid colour as well as nice artwork. Be wary of tattoo photos with blood in the picture, chewed up skin or anything else that looks dodgy. Where there is doubt, there is no doubt. Buyer beware.

It has to mean something.

Its nice when your tattoo has a deeper meaning but its not necessary, that is up to you. Sometimes it’s just a cool image or picture that you like or a simply graphic that accentuates a part of the body. Or perhaps a statement you wish to make. Sometimes the medium is the message, a tattoo for tattoos sake. For sure think things through but try not to hurt your head over analysing it, if you want a tattoo then get one, choose your artist wisely and he or she will help you with the process.

It’s dangerous.

In this day and age its a given that your artist should be using an autoclave to sterilize tubes and the needles should always be new. Inks should be poured into a single serving receptacle, your artist should always be wearing gloves, either latex or nitrile, never vinyl. Anything being touched during the process should either have a plastic bag over or a plastic film protecting you from cross contamination hazards. If you are suspect about the cleanliness and sterility of your artist then get outta there. It ain’t worth it. If you see ink stains all over the desk, spray bottle and lamp, or you’re in the third world, the backwoods or some shack off the beaten path then don’t take anything for granted, LOOK around. Ultimately it rests upon you to protect yourself from getting a bad deal. Your artist should be clean and sober on top of it all. You are what you eat.

It hurts.

Yes it does. Alas, pain is only a signal from the mind that something is up, once you wrap your head around it all it ain’t so bad. You get used to it. 3 hours is a good session, anything over that and it can get quite tedious. On big work I break it down into managable sessions, I personally like doing 3 hours at a time. Too many small sessions makes it hard to keep the flow. One long session is nice to finish a piece in a single shot but multipe long sessions are a bad idea and can lead to a tattoo not getting finished.

I can use numbing cream right?

Most artists have their own opinions on this, I personally do not like, advocate or advise the use of numbing cream before the tattooing process. It doesn’t last very long and it when it does wear off the tattoo process hurts even more than it should because you haven’t grown accustomed to the discomfort from the beginning. There are other reasons as well, including the idea that one must earn their tattoo and that the pain is part of the deal. From a tattooers point of view it makes the skin have a very strange texture while tattooing it akin to tattooing a piece of meat, unpleasant to work on to say the least,and I am sure it can’t be very healthy for the skin itself and the healing process. The pain is free so why not take advantage? 🙂

What if I want it removed at a later time?

Save yourself the trouble and don’t get it done in the first place. Period. If you have doubts then think it through and wait.

Celebrity tattoos are cool, I want the same.

No they are not cool and you’re better off with your own design. In general celebrities have poor taste in tattoos and no patience, and copying some flavour of the week tattoo from some soon to be has-been movie star is a really bad idea that you and the 10000 other people who had the same idea will live to regret. Be your own inspiration.

My friend can do it for way cheaper than that in his kitchen.

Sure he can. You get what you pay for and people get the tattoos they deserve. You’ll have that shitty tattoo a lot longer than the 100 bucks you save on getting Eddie the scab vendor to tattoo you in his basement. Enough said.

I want a really really small tattoo, can you do it really small?

Anything can be done, the question is whether one should or not. Small tattoos are bad for so many reasons. Firstly, they don’t hold they’re shape after aging for only a short time, if there are any details they will blur very quickly and more than likely you won’t be able to tell what the tattoo is from more than 2 feet away. A tattoo should look good for atleast 15-20 years! It doesn’t go away so some thought should be put into what you are marking your body with. A cute small tattoo when you are 18 becomes an unsightly blemish when you are 30. Better to get something genuine in a size that will age gracefully rather than a postage stamp size embarrassment.

I can just add more to it later.

You can always add more to an existing tattoo but it will usually look like you did just that. I know it seems prudent to get a small one at first, however, taking a bit of time to think it through and getting the entire concept/design tattooed at the same time by the same artist will be a much more beautiful and rewarding tattoo. Plan things out and execute them accordingly. You only have one skin and it is not a renewable resource. Go forth wisely informed.

I want a white tattoo.

Although it is possible… its not much of a tattoo, in fact a white tattoo seldom stays white and usually fades after a short while. There is also a lack of clarity and definition due to lack of contrast.

I drew my own design, is it possible to get it tattooed?

Anything is possible, whether it is a good idea or not is another story. Most people like to draw and some even think their drawings are good, and some even want them tattooed on themselves. Be careful with this. If you are an accomplished drawer it is most likely that your tattoo artist will have little issue with replicating your design for you. He might suggest that he ‘cleans it up’ a little. If he is a tattooer worth his salt then you should probably let him. If he suggests that he redraw the image in a manner more ‘tattooable’ then thats probably a good idea too.

Whatever it is that you do for a living it is something that you most likely possess some skill in. For us tattooers, drawing is a main feature of our skill set. We study art and tattooing, let us do our thing and you will get a nice piece of work, force us to copy your bad drawing and you will most likely live to dread looking at your tattoo once you realize what you have done. Todays beauty is tommorrows disgrace.

Those tattoo design websites are great aren’t they?

Generally speaking, they suck. The quality of the artwork is low to say the least, if the designs were drawn by a tattooer, which is doubtful, then it is safe to say it was most likely drawn by an amateur artist. These websites exist for one sole purpose, to make money from people who do not know any better. Most are run by unscrupulous people with little or no relation to the legitimate tattoo trade.Your artist, whomever you choose to tattoo you, should be at a level that he/she can draw anything you want within his/her chosen specialty and apply it accordingly. Don’t insult him/her by bringing in a second rate image from a hack, let them do their thing, its what you are paying them for, and the majority of tattoo artists DO NOT charge extra for custom drawing your tattoo. Its included in the price.

If you are thinking that you outsmarted the pay-per-design website, and downloaded and printed the low resolution thumbnail to bring to your tattoo artist you are not only foolish for wanting crappy art but are doubly insulting your tattoo artist by asking him to redraw a second rate image that you were too cheap to pay for in the first place. Invest in your flesh, your time and your money, it is not a renewable resource.

Tattoo awards mean something positive.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Tattoo awards are meaningless and an artist that uses them front and centre for proving their credentials most likely has little else going for them. Not to say that there are not plently of talented artists out there with well-earned awards from prestigous conventions. Only that there are just as many untalented crappy artists out there who were the lesser of all evils at some small town pub drunken tattoo contest using them as proof positive of some imaginary talent.

Like I am fond of saying…Look at recent photos to choose your tattoo artist.

Do you rework old tattoos or finish pieces started by other artists?

It really depends on the quality of work and if I think I can actually make it look better. In general though I  don’t finish what someone else has started.. but you can always come and show me and if I can’t do it one the other artists at my shop may be able to.

The way around this of course is to give me a fresh area of skin to tatttoo something cool, build a rapport with me and THEN hit me up for a fix up… doesn’t always work but its worth a try!

What style of tattoos do you specialize in?

At the moment I am only doing Traditional Japanese Tattoos of all sizes, lettering of all sorts and some small bits and pieces here and there if they are cool. Send me an email and we can figure out if I am the right artist for you!

How much would (insert description here) tattoo cost?

Price quotes can only be done in person as the variables are too great to guestimate over the phone/email etc etc..

How do I get a Consult with you?

Email me from the contact page on my website about your project and we’ll take it from there!

How does large scale tattooing work… how many hours do we do each session and how long is the break in between?

Easy, we book a consult where we figure out what you are after.. once that is done, we take a deposit and book your first appointment which is usually 3 hours long or 6 hours if its a very large tattoo and we need the extra time to prepare the drawing on the skin, enough time to get the lines and maybe some of the shading on the skin. Then we book follow up appointments that are 3 hours each and 2 weeks apart for the estimated time to finish the tattoo. ie: an estimated 10 – 12 hour tattoo would have a 3-6 hour initial session, then a 3 hour session two weeks later, and then another 3 hour session two weeks after that and THEN a final 1-2 hour session two weeks after that, a total of 6 weeks from start to finish.

Price is charged by the hour/session, however it is not a ‘by the minute’ process. Setup time, drawing on the skin and short breaks are included with the session.

What if I am late for my appointment?

I prefer you not to be late.. as my schedule is pretty tight and my hours are limited. Please call ahead if you think you are running late.

What If I miss my appointment?

If you reschedule without 1 weeks notice your deposit is fined $100, if you reschedule or cancel within 72 hours, your deposit is forfeited. If you miss your appointment without notice your deposit is forfeited and you will need to leave a double amount deposit for your next appointment.  Even with 48 or 72 or 96 hours notice… it is hard to fill a 3 hour appointment on such short notice with the way I structure my bookings and organise my schedule.

I am dedicated to making sure your tattoo is exceptional and my always being ready and on time, I ask that you please dedicate yourself to showing up as scheduled ready to be tattooed, I am sympathetic to the complexities of life as we all have things that arise and complicate our time schedules but please try to follow the plan we set forth.

All deposits are non refundable and may only be used for the last appointment upon completion of your tattoo.

How long have you been tattooing?

I made my first tattoo in 1986, 28 years ago, but did not start tattooing professionally until 1993 and have not stopped since. Over 21 years of professional shop experience as of 2014.

Do you accept commisions for other types of work.. such as paintings, logo’s, packaging, signs etc..??

I do and have in the past, all serious offers are considered.. . Contact me via email on my contact page. thanks.


Please have a good idea of what you are after when you email me for the waiting list or come in for your consult…if you are not sure then at least be open to my suggestions so we don’t waste each others time. I have a vast library of Japanese reference material, fonts and motifs on hand so don’t worry.. we’ll find something if you are unsure! Being open-minded is key. If you have gathered your own reference material for your tattoo idea, please bring it. It is hard for me to read your mind.. but I am working on it! 😉

I do not have EFTPOS or credit card facilities at the shop so please bring cash to leave as a deposit. Ask how much when booking your consult.

Please be on time. Consults are either 6:30 or 6:45 PM sharp. If you are more than 15 minutes late you will have to reschedule

All consult are free of charge.

There are no consults available on Saturdays with me.



Get a good nights rest the night before your appointment, try not to drink or have a big night out. Eat a good breakfast and have a coffee or tea before you come in, three hours is a long time to sit still.

Please be a few minutes early if you can so I know you are there and I can prepare accordingly, but please do not show up before the shop opens 🙂

Pre-tattoo preparation

In order to prepare for your skin for the new tattoo being applied there are a few simple steps to undertake.

1) For the week prior to your first tattoo appointment, I would like you to apply, morning and evening a liberal amount of Vaseline dry skin moisturizer to the entire area that is going to be tattooed in order for your skin to be supple and moist which makes the skin ready to absorb the pigment easily and makes it nicer for me to work and less painful for you!

2) The night before your tattoo appointment, I want you to exfoliate the entire area to be tattooed and then shave the area with a little bit extra outside the tattoo zone. Then apply one last application of cream.

3) On the day of your tattoo please do not apply moisturizing cream. Have a meal, a coffee if you like but only 1 as coffee is a diuretic and can cause bleeding if too many are consumed prior to getting tattooed, come to the shop well rested and relaxed.

4)Please put your phone on silent when you arrive and let yourself be immersed in the process with no distractions. Phone conversations can disturb other clients and artists that are working in the same room.

Proper hygiene is so appreciated I can’t mention it enough. Please shower and wear clean clothes to your appointment, we will be in very close proximity for long periods of time and the stress of you getting tattooed and my working does cause one to perspire some…try not to wear expensive or otherwise important clothing to your tattoo session as it can be a messy business and ink stains often do not come out in the wash.

If you wish to bring a friend or partner to your session that is ok and they are welcome to hang out in the lounge area and peruse the books, alas the actual tattoo area is only for client and artist.

Please bring the amount of cash you will need to pay for your appointment by visiting the ATM before your arrive for your session.

I strive to put my all into every piece that I do and aim to create a unique and powerful image on your body that will literally last you your entire life.Please come for your appointment with that in mind, have respect for our working environment, staff and other clients..and a calm disposition, and I promise you will get the most from your tattoo experience with me.

thank you and I hope to see you soon. Kian

© Kian Forreal - All Rights Reserved *All Wrongs Avenged*

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