Stillness, the eye of the storm, the way of the bushi…

Let me start saying I love tattoos, a friend of mine at the time, a few moons ago when I was an art student, offered to teach me the craft but at the end it never happened.

Many times I have been asked to design a tattoo and as many times I have refused. I’m not sure why, perhaps because I know that when I see my drawing again in a short while I’ll start picking it apart, pointing out all the things that I could have done better.

Curiously enough a couple of weeks ago I was asked if I could design a tattoo… but this time it was different, this time it was my judo sensei who was asking – and I felt honoured. He wanted a traditional looking Japanese illustration of a samurai. He gave me totally freedom to design it. So I did quite a bit of a research and I came across an image I remember seeing when I was a kid in an old martial arts book. I can’t find the name of the artist for the life of me but it looks like it could belong to Utagawa Kuniyoshi – or an artist influenced by his artwork, there are many. In any case I took from this image the pose and the general style. I decided to add a dog/wolf as a companion for the samurai. My sensei absolutely loves dogs, he is a dog trainer, so our four legged friends are an important part of his life. I framed the image with waves and clouds but I left an opening on the top right corner – the future, like the horizon, is always open 🙂

I had to simplify the original sketch, taking out a lot of details that weren’t necessary; but overall I’m quite happy with the result of this samurai tattoo.




Manuel Mesones is a Peruvian graphic designer and illustrator. Running away from the sun, he moved to Yorkshire, England, over a decade ago. His weapon of choice is a ballpoint pen but he is also very keen on digital illustration.


  1. You must ask your Sensei to allow you to photograph the finished tattoo and post it with the original illustration, which I think is brilliant by the way.. Some of these tattooists are fantastic handlers of texture and colour and, if he chooses a good one, the result will be truly spectacular.

    1. Thank you Spike. Yes I’m curious about the end result, I’m pretty sure he knows a very good tattooist but I think he is going to leave it as line art for now. In any case the colour can be added later 🙂

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