Monday, 30 August 2010

Horiyoshi III, "Ryushin" and the art of never finnishing.

The weekend didn't turn out to be all the rest that I imagined when it started. Being the first book we design everything had to be done at least three times. Mistakes slip through fingers like small fish, and as soon as I uploaded a file something else showed up. The weekend was spent bent over the laptop fending of sick kids, trying to concentrate on correcting what was amiss, and at the same time trying to be a family father.
Well, what doesn't kill you makes you......I don't know....a little wiser, at least.

Anyway, the book should be in print now, and all that remains is waiting.

New plans for visiting Japan has been made as well. We hopefully start shooting for the Nakamura book in the beginning of November this year. This time we'll bring professional lighting, but I am not sure if that's what we're using when it all boils down. Me and Alex are fans of natural light, so if opportunity presents itself we might end up not even unpacking the big flashes, softboxes and tripods. Photography is best performed as simple as possible. Focus and flow. Not fiddling about with buttons.

In all, things are best performed on an intuitive basis. It's the mind and belly that needs liberating. When this is done, anything is possible! "Getting it right" is the business of killing intuition on the spot. Rules are just a starting point for breaking them, but simply breaking them in lack of anything wiser to do, will just make it look imature and to early to pick from the creatiative tree. Just relax. You'll now when it's right. Inhale. Exhale. Again.


(photography of Tokyo sunset created by Matti Sedholm, Tokyo, Japan 2008)

Friday, 27 August 2010

Work, rest. Then work.

Close to midnight last night the finnished work of "Ryushin" was uploaded to the printers server. Hopefully everything will be to the printers pleasure so there can finally be and end to this weeks daily 12-hour shifts in front of the computer. As always, the final moments of designing a work like this saw some changes to the better. Some photography was included, one painting was pulled because of layout reasons, and paper and covermaterial was replaced for better choices.
I have all the confidence necessary for Fälth & Hässler, the printers, for making this a work to be proud of. Any mistakes or faults in the production will be entirely on our hands.
If all goes according to plan the book will arrive in London in time for the London Tattoo Convention, which starts on the 24th of september, and those interested in obtaining a copy can do so there.
The book will also be available through our website and this blog. Bear in mind that "ryushin" runs in a limited edition of 2000 hardcover copies, and that no more will be printed after that. There will not be a softcover edition since we aim to keep a high quality profile.

Today I am resting by the computer editing photos for our upcoming book on Horiyoshi III himself called "Kokoro", which should, if all goes well, be ready sometime in the end of the year.


(photograph of Senju sitting in zazen at Shunko-in, Kyoto, Japan, was created by Alex Reinke in september 2009)

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

End Game.

The last breaths are exhausted this week on the design of "Ryushin", our book on Horiyoshi III's new dragon ink and brush paintings.
I have been researching and crossreferencing the translations of the charachters appearing in the book so many times now, that I feel completely full to the brim with new knowledge. Perhaps that is the most unexpected and welcome side effect of doing this - all the new insights, aha's and piling up of knowledge.
Knowledge in it self has no real purpose. there's no point in hoarding it like a squirrel hoarding nuts for the winter. No, it's when the knowledge is put in a practical context it becomes allive and breathing. Then it can be your best friend.

There is such a thing as knowing to much.
Reality easily becomes distorted when the mind is cluttered with facts and theories. It's fine line inbetween living in the real world or simply sheltering in a creation of your own imagination.

The older I get, the more I understand how little I understood back then when I thought I knew it all. In reality, I can easily say that I know less now than before, but more of what I know now is real and not imagination or confusion. Knowledge is not truth. It's just a pile of stuff.


(photograph captured by Matti Sedholm, Horiyoshi III's studio, Yokohama, late summer 2009)

Thursday, 19 August 2010

The fastest time in the universe.... not in this mans eyes, but shoots like a rocket through my life right now.
Today I finally got the order of the paintings for "Ryushin" set and ready. Now it's time for creating the index of characters portrayed and establish some type of pagination.

Creating a book like this fuels the creative part of the I, and ideas swirl by faster than renegade satellites. Juices are flowing. The artistic adrenalin pumping.
I will be tired come the 28th of August.


(photograph captured in Kyoto by Matti Sedholm. October 2007)

Monday, 16 August 2010

Approaching cataclysm. Two weeks until deadline for Horiyoshi III book.

Summer has returned briefly here in the north of Sweden, and everything is sticky and hot. As I return to more steady work schedules I find us approaching deadline for the printing of "Ryushin" at the speed of light.
There's comfort in the realization that this has always been the way Deadlines approaches us.

All the paintings are edited and about 60 titles brushed in Horiyoshi III's expressive hand remains to be added, and after that the shape of the book as a whole can take form. Many things are already nailed down when it comes to the graphical aspects and typesetting, but I am sure there are many hidden trapdoors and creative assassins before we reach the printed conclusion of everybody's efforts.

(photograph captured by Matti Sedholm, Konchi-in, Kyoto; Japan 2008)

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

End of Summer

We're now at the finnishing end of the editing of Horiyoshi III's ink and brush paintings for our book "Ryushin" (to be released at the London Tattoo Convention 24th of September this year), and the deadline from the printers is just a few weeks away. A lot of work still remains.
What a fortunate thing that the summer is dying away.

(photograph captured by Matti Sedholm at Konchi-in, Kyoto, Japan 2008)

Thursday, 5 August 2010

The Gateless Gate #1


A monk asked Joshu: "Has a dog Buddha nature?"
Joshu replied, "Mu"

Mumon's Comment:
For the pursuit of Zen, you must pass through the barriers (gates) set up by the Zen masters. To attain his mysterious awareness one must completely uproot all the normal workings of one's mind.

If you do not pass through the barriers, nor uproot the normal workings of your mind, whatever you do and whatever you think is a tangle of ghost.

Now what are the barriers? This one word "Mu" is the sole barrier. This is why it is called the Gateless Gate of Zen. The one who passes through this barrier shall meet with Joshu face to face and also see with the same eyes, hear with the same ears and walk together in the long line of the patriarchs. Wouldn't that be pleasant?

Would you like to pass through this barrier? Then concentrate your whole body, with its 360 bones and joints, and 84,000 hair follicles, into this question of what "Mu" is; day and night, without ceasing, hold it before you. It is neither nothingness, nor its relative "not" of "is" and "is not." It must be like gulping a hot iron ball that you can neither swallow nor spit out.

Then, all the useless knowledge you have diligently learned till now is thrown away. As a fruit ripening in season, your internal and external spontaneously become one. As with a mute man who had had a dream, you know it for sure and yet cannot say it. Indeed your ego-shell suddenly is crushed. You can shake heaven and earth. Just as with getting ahold of a great sword of a general, when you meet Buddha you will kill Buddha. A master of Zen? You will kill him, too. As you stand on the brink of life and death, you are absolutely free. You can enter any world as if it were your own playground. How do you concentrate on this Mu? Pour every ounce of your entire energy into it and do not give up, then a torch of truth will illuminate the entire universe.

Mumon's verse:

Has a dog the Buddha nature?
This is a matter of life and death.
If you wonder whether a dog has it or not,
You certainly lose your body and life!

(photograph of nun at Kiyomizudera, Kyoto; japan 2007. Captured by Matti Sedholm)

Tuesday, 3 August 2010


Zen is repetition. So is life. Over and over again.
Photography and Irezumi the very same.
If one search too hard for the genuine thing, the result will only appear as artificial and desperate.
Irezumi repeats the same designs and moves in ever familiar ways, yet the refinement becomes obvious when you look back at what has been achieved over the years. Photography remains the same. The strongest photographs are mostly created in the same situations as they always were.

Why is that?

The simple answer is Life.
It's what we do everyday that weaves the web, create the miracles. All created images becomes selfportraits when looked upon. Throw away Like and Dislike. Just Move Ahead. It will all be fantastic. You'll see.

Dragon. Tiger.
Over and over again.
Just like hugging my children or eating my soup.

(photograph created by Matti Sedholm at Kenninji, Kyoto, Japan October 2008)

Monday, 2 August 2010

Horiyoshi III and "Ryushin". A book of dragon paintings published by Kofuu Senju.

Eternity is shorter than one thinks. Yet it takes forever.

We're approaching the release of our first book on Horiyoshi III's dragons (24th of September this year, at the London tattoo Convention), and as usual time proves itself as the most precious jewel. Editing Horiyoshi III's brush paintings is halfways through by now, with a hundred more to go. It's timeconsuming work as many dust particles and other things always end up on the scanns, however professionally they handle them. We want this book to be as good as we can make it, and that means putting in the hours it demands.

This is the story so far:

-208 or 216 pages on 130 gr uncoated natural white paper.

-Hardbound cloth cover with embossed and laquered titles and calligraphy by Horiyoshi III.

-200 new dragons designs by Horiyoshi III, representing this master's most energetic and experienced design to this date. The dragons are mostly set together with a deity, hero or foe, making this book a rich source for designs.

-An index with all the names of the characters appearing in the brush paitings will be available at the end of the book.

-Horiyoshi III himself is not writing anything for this book. It is rather Kofuu Senju's presenting the art of a contemporary artist with a tremendous past and present impact on tattooing and culture. There will be texts by both Kofuu (Alex Reinke) and Senju (Matti Sedholm), in the form of prefaces.

-"Ryushin-Chasing the dragon's" will be released in Limited Edition of 2000 copies. There will not be a softcover edition.

Horiyoshi III made 400 new paintings on this subject matter, and the remaining 200 will be published in a book at about the same time in 2011.

(photograph made by matti Sedholm at horiyoshi III's studio in Yokohama, Japan 2009)