Location: Las Vegas
Profession: Tattoo Artist
Tattoo artist and painter Wakako was born in Tokyo, Japan.
An artificer of tradition and modern design, she delicately blends the Japanese traditional art of tattoo with elements of modern style and sophistication. Despite a deep sense of dedication to the art of tattoo, she has also developed her skills and artistic expression in the mediums of watercolor and acrylic painting. Her interest in new mediums of artistic expression has lead to a number of collaborative projects involving graphic art, bicycle frame logo designs, and clothing design. Although Wakako explores alternate avenues of expression, her passion remains deeply rooted in the art and tradition of Japanese tattoo.
In 2000 Wakako left Japan to work at Picture Machine tattoo shop in San Francisco. It was there that she apprenticed under Max Kilbourne and began to develop her skills as a tattoo artist. During her time at Picture Machine she had the opportunity meet and study with a variety of world-renowned artists including Horitoshi, Juni, Bill Salmon and Pili Mo’o. Through the influence of her mentors she found her style and developed her proficiency and skill as a tattoo artist.
After leaving Picture Machine, Wakako found that she was now one of the two female Japanese tattoo artist working in the Unites States, which brought demand for her work. In 2001 Wakako began working the tattoo convention circuit and soon had guest spots in Spain, England, Florida, New York, and Japan. Despite her success as a tattoo artist, she began to experiment with watercolor and in 2002 moved to Las Vegas where she developed her skills in traditional Japanese painting. Following her stent in Las Vegas, she moved to Hawaii in 2006 to work at Hart and Huntington tattoo shop.
Wakako continued to work, travel and meet new people, and developed a passion for bicycles. In 2008 Wakako, in partnership with an old friend, opened Bluelug a bicycle shop featuring handmade bicycles in Tokyo Japan. The business has since thrived, and an additional bicycle shop location along with a bicycle friendly café and bar has opened. Through the bicycle business, she has continued to explore new avenues to express her art. The shop has produced frames featuring her custom logo designs, and in 2011 she collaborated with the famed bicycle components maker Philwood to benefit those affected from the tsunami in Japan.
In 2012 Wakako returned to Las Vegas to work at the World Famous Club Tattoo in the Planet Hollywood where she continues to work. The shop has allowed her the opportunity to continue to develop her style and skills as an artist. Despite her accomplishments, she continues to value what originally pushed her to tattoo: the simple yet intriguing interactions that occur through her contact with fellow artists and clients.