Lighthouse Tattoo

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1 Pemberton Street, Botany, Sydney, NSW, 2019
(02) 9316 4565

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A s Sydney’s leading custom tattoo studio, we have specialist tattoo artists in all styles of tattooing. Japanese, western traditional, neotraditional and illustrative, black and grey, realistic, geometric and dot work, portraiture, script, you name it.

We have created a space where artistry is the focus, and custom, one off pieces comprise almost 100% of the output of the studio. Customers are encouraged to bring their ideas to the table while trusting in the high level of artistic and technical skill of their chosen artist.

We feel that the work speaks for itself, so feel free to make contact to discuss your ideas. All walks of life are welcome at our studio, and we will take the time to deal with all enquiries individually.

Lighthouse Tattoo in Botany, Sydney, NSW is listed under Tattoo Parlours with expertise in Portraits Tattooing, Traditional Japanese Tattooing, Neo Traditional Tattoo Styles.

Additional services by Lighthouse Tattoo include American Traditional Tattoo, Realism Tattooing, Geometric Style Tattoo, Black and Grey Tattooing.

Phone Lighthouse Tattoo to make a booking.


Nathan Puata
Alex Rusty Cairns –,
Garth B Neale –,
Brett Hayes –,
Mark Nara,
Ben O’Grady –,
Ryan Ussher –
Mark Powell Rainbow Beard

Lighthouse Tattoo is a custom tattoo shop in Botany, Sydney , Australia. We cater to all styles. Bookings can be made for larger work, while some smaller tattoos can sometimes be done at short notice, depending on availability.

Japanese Tattooing – Composition & Subjects

A common passion in tattooing that owners Alex and Nathan share, is their love of Japanese tattooing. This extends to other artists at the studio as well who have joined the crew in order to learn and develop their craft by working alongside like­minded tattoo artists. There are variations in style within the Japanese genre from artist to artist, but the main elements, based in tradition, are always present.

Broadly speaking, tattooing in Japan is generally referred to as Irezumi. But more specifically, the traditional Japanese tattoo style is referred to as Wabori. Traditionally this was done by hand using needles fastened to bamboo sticks, and is referred to as Tebori which means hand ­carved or engraved. This method is still practiced today, although the outlines are almost always done by machine. Machine tattooing is referred to as Kikaibori, but the result can still be described as Wabori, implying its current status and legitimacy.

Nathan can do Tebori on request, but this is subject to the appropriateness of the piece.


Traditionally Japanese tattooing is characterised by a boldness and readability that leaves no ambiguity as to what is depicted in the tattoo. This is achieved through high contrast, strong line work, and a background that compliments and contrast the foreground. There is also a focus on dynamic positions and shapes that convey a sense of movement both in the portrayal of the subject as an illustration, as well as in the overall tattoo as it is positioned on the body.

Most often, the use of bold colours helps the foreground to stand out from the background, which is always black and grey. In a piece that is entirely black and grey, and there is no colour in any part of the tattoo, there must still be a strong contrast created between the foreground and the background. This is done via the clever use of negative space and leaving open skin to maintain the readability of the image. In either case a decent amount of black must be present in the background to create the contrast, not only between foreground, but between the elements of the background itself. This is why it is almost always the case that an artist will complete the background first in order to establish the darkest parts of the tattoo, and from that base, maintain an adequate contrast in relation to the tones used for the subject of the tattoo.

Subjects and Symbols.

The subject of the tattoo refers to the the character or creature featured in the foreground of the tattoo. There is a huge range of subjects to choose from in the world of Japanese tattooing, but these are all most often referenced from woodblocks prints of the Ukiyo­e era in Japan. Many famous woodblock artists, such as Hokusai, Kuniyoshi, Kyosai, Kunisada, Kunichika, Yoshitoshi, Utamaro, and many more, are revered by Japanese tattooists as the originators of their imagery.

What this foreground subject is can range from any of the classics, such as:

koi carp
dragons (or Ryuu in Japanese)
shi shi or foo dogs
oni (malevolent demons)
masks from Japenese noh theatre (most popular is Hannya)
phoenix (or Ho­ho)
the fox (or kitsune)
tengu (bird­headed supernatural beings)
kappa (river spirits)
various monsters or yokai
ghosts (or yurei)
various specific Buddhist and Shinto deities
various flowers: cherry blossoms (or sakura), maple leaves (or momoji), peony flowers (or botan), chrysanthemum flowers (or kiku)
and the list goes on….

There are also various famous battle scenes that have become common subjects in the tradition of Japanese tattooing. Most popular are scenes featured in Kuniyoshi’s woodblock print series “108 Heroes of the Suikoden” and various woodblock artists’ depictions of scenes form Japan’s Genpai War.

The Background.

For the background of the tattoo, one must consider the environment and season appropriate to the subject. The traditional background elements are wind bars, clouds (often referred to as bubble cloud), wind spirals, water, finger waves, and rocks. These should all be done solely in tones of black and grey as this separates the foreground and background most effectively. Many subjects have traditional flower pairings (for example, a peony traditionally accompanies a shi shi). And many subjects and flowers are associated with a specific season or environment. This can make for ‘correct’ and ‘incorrect’ ways of putting the subject, accompaniment, and background together. And where the ultimate goal is to join tattooed sections of the body together into a whole, or bodysuit, it is important to keep these features consistent.

For the client, all these elements can be chosen because of the story they tell and symbolism they carry, or simply because they appeal to the wearer on an aesthetic level. Many of the elements have specific meanings or stories, but many are more loosely symbolic, and some are simply visually appealing. At Lighthouse, our Japanese tattoo specialists love doing the classics, but we invite clients to explore the huge range of subjects available to them within the traditional Japanese tattoo genre


“just had my 25+ year old tattoo brought back to life by brett. the old tattoo was a bit worse for ware, very faded & unrecognisable.
brett is truly an artist and did a fantastic job. he transformed a blur back into an updated, fantastic tattoo.

brett has great customer service skills & very professional. he took his time, did research and offered solutions and recommendations.
the shop is a great setup and is absolutley spotlessly clean with plenty of room for you enjoy the experience.

i can highly recommend this place.”

“I had my first tattoo by Nathan in ’11. Went back to complete the sleeve.

Highly recommend the studio & Nathan.

The studio is fantastic, great energy, great environment. Enjoy all the artist working together, using their combined knowledge. Also the diverse clients.

Really enjoyed the energy on several afternoons.

Nathan, is fantastic, can’t recommend him highly enough. He not only listens to what you want but delivers it. Further he great at bouncing ideas off, he listens, advises, but doesn’t dominate.

Couldn’t recommend either higher enough.”

“Clean, friendly and super professional. These guys are talented artists who are serious about tattooing. There’s a long waiting list for appointments for a very good reason. If you are looking to get serious work done, they’re the people to see”

“I had my shin tattooed by Ellie when I was there and least to say it was a great experience and she’s lovely. Her drawings and tattoos are beautiful and she’s dedicated as anything to give you her all with her time and care towards your new tattoo. I plan to have both my entire legs covered by her art work in time as I just can’t get enough of it.
All of the artists here are super friendly and highly skilled in what they do, they take the time and are very perfessional to make sure you leave loving your new ink.
I can’t wait to go back for my next session to continue my leg with Ellie and get some more of her amazing art work done on me!”

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