Behind The Art #22: Tattoo Series | KUMA

By The Masked Embroider
Instagram: @themaskedembroiderer | Twitter: @TEmbroiderer

 

Ok time for our next guest into the tattooists chair. He’s Europe’s largest athlete. A bear of a man with tattoos that he claims can compete with just about anyone on the pro wrestling scene and I’ve got to agree, wholeheartedly, let’s face it just who am I to argue. Haha.


Welcome Kuma! Ok first things first. What tattoos have you got?

“I have a full Japanese sleeve on my right arm. Cherub and cross on my left arm. Writing on my chest. Mouri Design on my right leg. Bagpiper on my left leg.”

That’s a fair selection. When did you get your first tattoo?

“When I was 17… 17 years ago…”

Wow so I’m assuming they’ll be a really big part of who you are as a person and your story by now then? Is there a particular one that holds special significance to you?

“They all have significant meaning to people or situations I’ve faced in life. My personal favourite is my cherub. It was in honour of my grandmother.”

Was she an influential person in your life?

“She was just an incredible women. Soft, gentle, caring showed me a lot about how the world worlds and had a great patience.

She also taught me how to cook!”

Ah that’s a true Scots lady for you! Strong but gentle. It’s great to have people in your life like that isn’t it? How the ‘world worlds’ I like that… Who did your tattoos for you and roughly how long did they take?

“Richards in Aberdeen. All in, I’d say… 70 hours”

Do you enjoy the whole process of getting a tattoo?

“It sucks after, but during it I don’t mind… the shading part makes me sleepy.”

Haha does it? I bet…To have a full Japanese sleeve on your right arm is impressive and must’ve been a long one to get done. What’s the inspiration behind that one?

“It’s pretty much just a personal experience. I was looking into getting a Japanese themed Koi fish pond one day and an elderly Japanese man told me a story how Koi fish are very placid laid back creatures… however, if you send them over the wrong bridge they can come back as dragons to avenge those who wrong them. It’s pretty fitting to my personality.”

That’s really interesting, I didn’t know that. It’s amazing what you can pick up from different people and different cultures etc. That’s really cool… Can I ask you about the writing on the chest, ‘through pain comes strength’ is that what it reads? Is that a personal motto?

“In pain comes strength.”

Ah ok. My apologies.

“It’s a personal belief of mine from text I once read. No matter how bad a situation is, you can overcome it and come out stronger at the other end.”

That’s a great belief to have, so true… We haven’t touched on the bagpiper tattoo yet. Tell me about that one.

“The bagpiper is a dedication to family history… my family had several famous pipers back in the day!”

Really?

“My great uncle Alec piped the Gordon Highlanders into World War 2 battle.

His father, my great grandfather piped the Gordon Highlanders into WW1 which is pretty cool.”

Jeez that’s amazing. Just imagine what they saw eh? Wow. So you must get the fighting spirit from them then eh?

“I think so, my grandad was a booth boxer back in the 40s, he would travel around the UK and Ireland fighting people bare knuckled for money.”

Wow so you really do come from a strong fighting family.

“Yeah, the spirit and attitude lives strong lol. Strongmen and stronger women.”

It’s as they say. Behind every great man there’s a great woman. That’s amazing… This’ll sound like a pretty silly question now then after hearing the history and stories behind your collection so far but are there any tattoos that you’ve seen that you’re jealous off?

“I really appreciate some of the Mouri work The Rock and Roman have.”

You have some Mouri artwork yourself, don’t you? Do you have any connections to New Zealand or Samoa personally? What is it about Maori art that fascinates you?

“Just the heritage and symbolism it represents. Its all about strength, honour, respect, family etc”

All admirable traits to have in life. And they can be particularly strong within the wrestling community too, can’t they? That too can be like one big family. How do you think wrestling is coping with the pandemic right now? Do you think it’ll come back stronger? As your tattoo reads ‘In Pain Comes Strength’ right?

“Wrestling will always be around in some form. I think it will bounce back just fine.. not instantly but in time.

Yeah, in pain comes strength… wrestlers will come back with a point to prove to make sure they still get work and continue living their dream and fans will get the chance to see what they love and fill that void thats been empty during this stupid pandemic.”

Kuma it’s been a great pleasure talking to you. Thank you.

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