Masters Of Ink: Embrace Your Inner Demons With Oscar Hove's Japanese Mask Tattoos

Masters of Ink is a Konbini original introducing you to a whole spectrum of tattoo artists from all over the world. Custom designers specializing in every style from modern dotwork to traditional Americana tattoos – tune in for something new every week!


Oscar Hove is based in Barcelona, Spain. Showing interest in art since he was 12 years old, especially in graffiti, Oscar has practiced graphic design for a while before entering the tattoo world in 2011. He states:

"My philosophy is simple like that: ENJOY. If something doesn't make you happy, that thing is not for you."

In contemporary tattooing, especially in the Western world, many tattoo artists are influenced by Japanese art and culture. And if Oscar has also fallen in love with Japanese aesthetics after visiting the country, he refused to fall into the easy side of imitation: "I cannot change the fact that I’m a Spanish guy, living a Mediterranean life, so, I’m not trying to do traditional Japanese tattoos," he says.

Yet, a specific part of Japanese culture has attracted his interest: the spooky masks of Noh theater. The figure of the Hannya is popular in tattoo art, but the Spanish artist decided to explore it with a personal view. He tells Konbini:

"I’ve always been attracted by esotericism and occultism. I find wonderful how Japan folklore talks about its Demons, with a genuine balance between fear and positiveness."

Hove is obsessed with masks since his childhood, when a friend showed him an eerie white mask, without any features: "It has followed me in my nightmares for a long time! When I discovered Japanese masks, they woke up some of the feelings that I had when I was kid – both fear and curiosity."

Using blackwork, the artist perfectly recreates the mystery experienced as a kid. He also reinforces the hypnotizing effect with bizarre split designs. Oscar explains:

"Splitted masks illustrate the Japanese idea that every object can have a life. Everything can have a soul. Masks have a hidden history behind them, just like people. And even broken, the story is going on."

In a time of fear, violence and hatred that Barcelona experienced recently, it is important to exorcize our demons to keep our freedom of living and of creating. Follow Oscar Hove on Instagram and discover more of his work below:

Read More -> Masters Of Ink: Celebrate Nature With Ann Lilya's Colorful And Trippy Tattoos

Writer for tattoo and art related medias, as well as author of crime novels. I live in Paris.