Kyle Otsuji lends his body as a canvas to an impressive portfolio of artwork. Otsuji being covered in a plethora of permanent body art is no surprise given his career path, but where the surprise does lie is in his niche, cosmetic tattooing, and the delicacy of his craft. Started in Asia, Kyle notes that cosmetic tattooing is only now coming to the forefront in North America. This past summer he and his partner, Shaughnessey Keely, opened Studio Sashiko, a space that allows them to showcase their specializations.
What was your journey to get into cosmetic tattooing?
I worked for seven years at a tattoo shop doing body piercing and that started me in this realm. Once Shaughnessy and I got together and she started doing the cosmetic tattooing we were looking for another avenue for myself and we came across the scalp micropigmentation because they sort of go hand and hand. It’s a form of tattooing but it’s not always what people think.
What was the turning point to opening up your own studio?
We came to the point that we were realizing that it was popular enough that we could realize our goals to work for ourselves. We had just moved, so we opened our studio close to home.
How did you develop the name and décor for the business?
Sashiko is a Japanese term, I’m Japanese, basically when it’s translated it means ‘tiny stabs’ because Sashiko is a actually traditional stitching method…and it’s perfect because what we’re doing is tattooing and that’s what what it is, tiny stabs. For the interior we wanted it to be mid-century modern Japanese feel. We took both elements because they go together really well. We merged them together to come up with this space that is more like a spa then a tattoo shop.
What’s the furthest a client has come for an appointment?
We had two sisters come in from Germany, and a client who flew from Prague to Dallas to here. A lot of people are coming from across Canada and the United States.
What acts as your inspiration?
I have a family member whose hair was thinning and I know that it affects her and seeing her I wanted to get into it to help people. Hair loss really affects confidence and it feels good to know that we’re helping someone with their self-confidence.
What’s the biggest thing that you’ve learned?
How to open a business properly. When you say that you want to open up your own thing, you don’t think of all of the permits and the legal stuff that comes with it. You make mistakes and you learn and that’s what we did. I think if there’s another chance to open another store it would go a lot smoother and a lot quicker.
What’s next for you and Studio Sashiko?
Currently we want to focus on our studio. In the big scheme of things we would like to open more studios across Canada and the States. We want to make this self-sufficient, running on its own, and then we can worry about opening new studios. Maybe one day we’ll offer traditional tattooing but right now cosmetic is what we’re focusing on.
Visit Studio Sashiko and follow @kyleboosh