American tattoo artist Ben Shaw has been inking designs into skin since the turn of the century. He started out his career by travelling the United States, gaining experience in different tattoo parlors before finally settling down at Octopus Tattoo in Derby in the United Kingdom.
Shaw’s style is a mix of traditional design elements and dark, gothic characters such as skulls, demons, monsters and vikings. This subject matter explores the darker aspects of the world and Shaw delights in the dangerous nature of these subjects. However, while many of his designs focus on death and danger, they are also a celebration of life. Flowers, insects and leaves interact with the designs to add a splash of contrast between life and death. The colors that he uses are vibrant and add a lively feel to his art that makes his tattoos appealing to examine in detail.
Many of Shaw’s tattoos are influenced by Japanese tattoos, especially the art of irezumi. Shaw’s tattoos could fall into the category of modern irezumi, which is inspired by traditional irezumi while also having a modern character all of its own, a character that is generally unique to each artist. Below, you can see some examples of his work that have distinct Japanese elements such as Japanese warriors, demons and dragons.