Jill Bonny, “Horiyuki”
SHOP: State of Grace, San Jose, CA
Few tattooists have penetrated Japanese tattoo society like Jill “Horiyuki” Bonny. After a stint in the circus, she learned tattooing at True Blue Tattoo in Queens, NY, then moved to California to work alongside famed Japanese tattooer Horitaka at State of Grace. “Horitaka is the owner of State of Grace and he is an apprentice to [Japanese tattoo master] Horiyoshi III of Yokohama,” says Horiyuki. “State of Grace is the only tattoo shop in America associated with Horiyoshi III.”
Horiyuki writes a regular column for the Japanese tattoo magazine Tattoo Burst and just penned her first book, Studying Horiyoshi III: A Westerner's Journey into Japanese Tattoo.
Needless to say, it's quite an accomplishment to get where she is today. “On my 28th birthday, Horitaka, my boss and mentor, approached me and asked how I felt about receiving a tattooing title from Horiyoshi III,” she reminisces. “He explained to me the responsibilities such a mark of distinction would entail. I was flattered and overwhelmed, to say the least, and I accepted the honor.”
Without a Japanese first name to work with, Horiyoshi III used her birth year to come up with a title for her: the prefix “Hori,” denotes “to carve” and is commonly used in Japan for tattooers' titles; “Yuki” translates to “snow” and is also a feminine first name.
“I am the first Western woman to receive a title from Horiyoshi III, and Horitaka believes I am also the first non- Japanese woman to receive a title from a tattoo master in Japan,” explains Horiyuki. “This is an honor I do not take lightly, and everyday I aspire for progression by challenging myself with the tradition of Japanesestyle tattooing as designated by Horiyoshi III.”