He’s a respected tattoo artist whose work is etched on the skin of numerous musicians and professional athletes. He’s also designed album covers and concert posters for bands like Bad Religion, The Offspring, Mammoth WVH, Motörhead and Mötley Crüe and created customized guitar designs for Yamaha.
And when Japanese-born tattoo icon Tokyo Hiro grabs a well deserved six-pack of beer, you can be sure he’s going to leave his mark on that, too.
The Orange County resident recently partnered with Japanese-founded Sapporo beer to create a limited-edition six-pack in celebration of the Year of the Dragon.
“I grew up in Japan and never thought a big corporation would hire a crazy-looking Japanese tattoo guy, so this is a great opportunity,” said Hiro, whose dragon emblazoned design is now available in stores nationwide.
“Every time I see it, it makes me happy. ‘Look, this is what I did,’” he said.
Inspired by punk rock and heavy metal, Hiro is known for nailing various tattoo styles. For the collaboration with Sapporo, which was founded in 1876 and is Japan’s oldest beer, Hiro went with a classic Japanese dragon design.
The six-pack package features two dragons flowing around the Sapporo can. The open mouth on one dragon is meant to ward off evil spirits, while the closed mouth of the other keeps good spirits in. The pair of dragons are representative of the end and beginning of the New Year.
“At first, it was one dragon, but then I started to realize Japanese always like the yin-yang thing, so I have one with an open mouth and one with closed,” Hiro said.
But the collaboration almost didn’t happen.
“The first time Sapporo emailed me, I thought it was a scam,” Hiro said with a chuckle.
Born and raised in Japan, Hiro was on his way to becoming a professional baseball player. But because he got a “stick and poke” tattoo on his forearm from a schoolmate, he couldn’t continue to play because, at that time, tattoos were considered taboo in Japan and athletes were not supposed to be inked.
So instead Hiro pursued his passion for music and tattooing here in the U.S., learning to tattoo under legendary tattoo artist Bob Roberts of Spotlight Tattoo.
His art skills have now made a permanent impression on Sapporo officials.
“He has absolutely exceeded our expectations. I think it’s a testament to Hiro’s true passion and him being the perfect partner to bring this to life,” said Erin Smith, head of marketing for Sapporo-Stone Brewing.
The collaboration marks Sapporo U.S.A.’s first nationally available six-pack. Until recently, the six-pack of Sapporo Premium was available only …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment