Five Must-Knows When Getting a Kanji Tattoo

Japanese tattoos are cool. But if a personal translator is out of your league how can you avoid becoming a kanji fashion victim and get stuck with a tattoo you will really regret?
1. Know the difference - hiragana, katakana and kanji
Before you talk to your tattoo artist, make sure you know what you are talking about. You say you want a Japanese tattoo, but what do you know about Japanese characters? You need a quick stint in 2-minute Japanese boot camp.
First off, let's be clear that there is no Japanese "alphabet". There are three sets of Japanese characters - hiragana, katakana and kanji - and each group has its own history, function and style. Get your head around these facts and you will already know more than 99% of the people walking around with Japanese tattoos right now:

Hiragana - These simple, rounded characters represent sounds, but have no independent meaning. They were developed by women in the Heian period and are still considered feminine by Japanese people.
Katakana - Developed by Buddhist monks around the same time as hiragana, these are simple, angular characters that also represent sounds and have no meaning of their own. You saw them cascading down the screen in Matrix (although they were backwards!)
Kanji - Originally from China, these characters are like pictures, representing a meaning and also several different sounds depending on the situation.
Just reading this has probably given you an idea of which style you might like for your tattoo - but don't stop just yet! Now you know what kinds of Japanese characters there are, let's move on to...
2. Writing styles
Come a bit closer. Lean forward towards the screen. That's right. Now, look at the words in front of you. Take a good, close look at the shapes of these letters. OK? Now tell me honestly: Would you want a tattoo in Times New Roman? How about Tahoma? What's that? You don't want a tattoo by Canon or Epson? Sure you don't. And in the same way, you don't want to have your Japanese tattoo looking like a printout either!
So, now we move on to writing styles. Just like there are three kinds of Japanese characters, there are also three ways they can be written. Don't worry. This is easy! I know, you are thinking that you can't even read Japanese, so how on earth will you be able to recognize these different styles? Well, try this:
Kaisho - Block letters. You learned to write your ABCs like this, and Japanese kids learn to write their characters in just the same way: Like a Volvo - boxy but good.
Gyousho - Cursive letters. You moved up to middle school and learned you could write faster by letting the parts of some letters flow into the next. Yes, you guessed it - the Japanese do the same thing, and they call it gyousho.
Sousho - Super-cursive letters. Ever seen a prescription from a doctor? Then you know what sousho is like in Japanese: Sure, the writer or some other trained person can (probably) read it, but no one else has a clue what it says!
Are you getting the picture? If you want to look like a computer printout, then be my guest and go for the kaisho style. That's your choice. But I think you probably want to use either gyousho or sousho for your tattoo. My personal preference would be gyousho: It's stylish, but it won't leave even native speakers baffled.
3. Real or fake?
Remember I mentioned Mel C at the beginning? Well guess what kanji she got tattooed on her arm? That's right - "Girl Power": Great in English, but show this kanji combination to most Japanese people and you'll get a blank look at best. Want a worse example? Try "big daddy". Now, you know what it means in English, but put it into kanji and you end up with "large father"! It just doesn't work.
I'm sure you remember that kanji are the only characters that have meaning as well as sound. And their beauty means that they are what most people want for their tattoos. But watch out: As well as being popular, they can also be the most dangerous!
Let's see if we can find a pattern here: Look carefully at the examples above. What are they communicating - concrete concepts or abstract ideas? Can you see the difficulty the translators had? The kanji for "dragon", "samurai", "love" or any other concrete ideas are pretty easy to discover. But go for anything with an idiomatic meaning and whoever is trying to help you translate it is going to get a major headache!
Just an idea, but how about this suggestion: Rather than trying to force a round English peg into a square Japanese hole, why not find a real Japanese phrase that you like and get that instead? Bushidou (the Way of the Warrior) and Ninjutsu (The Art of Stealth) are two good examples of real Japanese terms that would make great tattoos.
4. Your name in Japanese
As I'm sure you remember from 2-minute Japanese boot camp, katakana are the characters usually used to write foreign words and names. So, if you want to get a tattoo of your name, technically these would be the characters you would choose. But I am guessing that, like most people, you want your name written in kanji.
Do a quick search on Google and you can find a number of sites that specialize in translating names into kanji. Basically there are two different methods that these sites use, so let's look at them here.
Translating the meaning
This method involves finding out the original meaning of the English name, and then researching the kanji equivalent.
For example, my name has its origins in Greek and means "crowned one". The one who is crowned is the king, so I could translate my name into the kanji for king and call myself ohsama. (Perhaps a little pretentious - and disturbingly similar to Mr. Bin Laden's first name!)
Translating the sound
This is a lot more difficult! Flick through a dictionary and you will find a bunch of kanji that can be combined to sound like your name. But sound isn't everything: Remember that kanji have meaning as well. In fact, it is even more complex than this! Be sure to check each of the following factors with anyone who translates your name like using this method:
1. Sound - Does it sound like your name or not? I have seen my name "translated" on certain websites to sound like Stefan. Shame my name (Stephen) is actually said the same as Steven!
2. On-yomi and kun-yomi - Yes, more technical words! But don't panic - they are easy to understand: Basically, kanji have two kinds of reading. One kind, on-yomi, is their original Chinese sound. The other, kun-yomi, is their Japanese-only sound. What to watch is that (like oil and water) on-yomi and kun-yomi don't mix. Use either all on-yomi reading or all kun-yomi readings to make the sound of your name.
3. Meaning - Do the kanji have a good meaning together? Now, it can be very difficult to find kanji that sound right and have a good meaning, so you may need to compromise a little on one of these.
4. Masculine or feminine - I guess this is more like a sub-category of meaning, but it is something you need to check out to avoid embarrassment. For example, while "Asian Beauty" may be a great combination for a woman, I get the feeling most men would not be too happy about having that permanently written into their skin!
5. If in doubt, check!
First, use your new-found knowledge of Japanese to ask a few difficult questions to your tattoo artist or kanji "specialist". If you get the feeling they don't know what they are talking about, you probably want to look elsewhere.
Next, before you get anything permanent done, use an online dictionary to check whether the Japanese really means what you want it to. You may not be able to input Japanese yourself, but you can copy and paste characters from an email or web page and see what they mean.
Finally, if you are lucky enough to know any, ask a Japanese person what they think. Their confused expression may tell you that you have come up with another "big daddy"!
Follow this advice and you will avoid the most dangerous pitfalls of Japanese tattoos and get a kanji tattoo you can be proud of.

Can A Musician Be Happy Learning How To Play A New Guitar?

I found my Yamaha FG700s when I was browsing the local music stores for the best beginner's acoustic guitar. I say "my Yamaha FG700s" because I consider it the best thing that has happened to me. This six string guitar has made me so happy I cannot tell you. I only had to pay $199 for it, and the black and white body design is just what I was looking for!
Well, I am not here to run praises for the FG700s that I own, but since I am here, I might as well talk a little about how wonderful it is. It consists of a rosewood fingerboard and a high gloss natural finish along with a tortoise shell pick guard body that protects it from the normal wear and tear from strumming. But, I won't ramble on about it here. I'll let you have more fun discovering everything about your own Yamaha FG700S!

I am a beginner when it comes to guitars, and I have had a heck of a good time with this one already. My guitar teacher tells me that I made a fine choice by buying this one. I had a ball of a time playing the guitar for my friends who obviously thought this was a professional instrument even though it just cannot sound like a Martin which costs over $3500! My friend who owns a recording studio tells me it sounds great when played in a recording environment. Yes, he asked me to demonstrate it in a studio environment, and I was only too happy to oblige!
I usually like strumming my Yamaha FG700a to soft songs, and it was such a surprise to strum it successfully with hard rock songs. That's right, even unplugged hard rock songs! This FG700S knows its business. I am hoping that it will last through my first gig (whenever that may be) because I have become so comfortable with this guitar and would like to begin my music performing career with it. From what people tell me about it and from the reviews that are on the Internet, I can safely bet this is not going to be a problem.
Playing a Yamaha FG700s gives me all the musical pleasure I can hope to get! My fingers do not hurt when I play this guitar as has happened with several other guitars, and while this particular one may be a problem for someone with a slighter body build, it works just great for me. Of course, it does not consist of the bells and whistles of models which are more expensive and consequently of better quality, but for $200 it is well worth it! Even though I am not a seasoned player yet, I hate the buzzing noises and poor resonance some even pricier models make. That noise takes all the fun out of playing something so beautiful.
I have been told that I should replace the plastic saddle of my FG700S as it is not of that great a quality compared with an ivory one. I am contemplating making that cosmetic adjustment to my guitar. Apart from this, nothing can compare to the dozens of happy hours I have spent so far playing my Yamaha FG700s!

The Rise of the Freelance Creatives

Humans have been around for hundreds of thousands of years. Yet think back just a decade or two. Computers were clunky; the internet was in its infancy; there was no Facebook, no Google, no YouTube, no Wikipedia. If you wanted to find out where a place was, or the definition of a word, you had to walk to the bookshelf and look it up in a physical A to Z or dictionary. And now the internet is mobile, available on your Smartphone wherever you happen to be.
The internet has reshaped virtually every industry, transformed the way business is done and even changed our social behaviour. It is not a passing trend; this is a fundamental shift that affects every area of our lives. And it is just the beginning.
This rapid ongoing transformation is ultimately a good one - for those who embrace it and are willing to adapt.

We are enjoying the benefits but mostly still underestimate the impact it will have, both in business and on our lives. The music industry was one of the first casualties of a failure to adapt. The digital world changed the way we acquire, store and enjoy music, and the established corporations resisted as hard as they could. They have been battling to stay relevant ever since.
The publishing industry is going through a similar transformation with the rise of e-book readers like the Kindle and the iPad. These devices are brand new and they are already shaking the industry - who knows what will be available just one decade from now? Analysts predict the collapse of the traditional publishing model within 2 to 5 years.
The general effect of the internet change is one of empowering individuals. Hulking industries have long been the gate-keepers between creatives and their potential audience; by holding the key to distribution they held the power to choose who emerged as an artist in any field. But the internet is rapidly smashing these traditional structures, and making the once all-powerful middle man obsolete. Now a musician or an author or a film maker can put his work onto the internet and find an audience directly.
Thus begins the Age of the Creatives. Technology has made it easier than ever to take a great photo, make a video, write a book or record a song. And we no longer need an agent or a record deal.
Yes, a lot of rubbish will be released. The dying gate-keeper industries used to provide a filtering function, sorting the wheat from the chaff. But the social web will replace that; through user reviews, 'likes' and similar rating mechanisms, we will learn to quickly determine whether someone's creation is worth our time. Word of mouth will become increasingly important. That can only encourage great content - the things that 'go viral' and become wildly popular will be those that are the most interesting and impressive. So to achieve success in the Age of the Creatives, people will have to produce work of real value.
Artists of all types now also need to be internet savvy and learn the art of self-promotion. They need to market themselves and win their own fans. They need to build themselves up as a personal brand and become a leading figure in their field, which requires a solid understanding of social networking tools and constant innovation. They have to be their own manager, their own business partner. But that is incredibly liberating.
All this is wonderful news for the individual, and for creativity in general.
If you aren't building a personal brand and active internet following for whatever your passion is, you risk being left behind. Get creating and get out there!
Be part of the rise of freelance creatives.
Titus Powell
Professional fashion photographer and author of the Apple iBookstore top 5 thriller The Dare Ring.

How To Turn Your Drawings Into Unique Embroidery Designs

Have you ever wanted to turn your unique and creative drawings into embroidery designs? In many cases, we've tried to create several unique embroidery designs, but just don't have the resources to do so. So why are you sitting around, and not attempting to turn your unique drawing skill, into a masterpiece of an embroidery design? The process is very simple, and once you get the hang of it, you can use the same drawing as a template for future embroidery designs. After you've done it successfully one time, you'll be able to do it on any drawing that you create. By learning this fantastic technique, you will increase your embroidery design collection by ten fold.
To begin, redraw your original drawing on a blank piece of paper. If it is already on a blank piece of paper, you can skip this step. However, if it's already on a blank piece of paper, and you don't have another copy of the drawing, then you should redraw it. Simply because you will no longer have the drawing after the entire process.
If you have a scanner or some scanning device, you can use this as well to duplicate the design so you won't have to worry about redrawing it and/or losing it. If you are redrawing the design, do not include any of the texture, shading, or miscellaneous lines that are not needed. Keep the design simple, so that when you are trying to create your embroidery designs, you will have a few set colors you can follow, and won't have to worry about whether or not it is going to get too complex. The more you include in your drawing, the harder it will be to embroider.
When you are finished, look at it, and the drawing should resemble something that you would find in a children's picture book. The more simple you make it, the easier it will be for you to transfer it over to some of your embroidery designs. From here, you need to get some fading or erasable dressmaker's marking pens. With these pens, you have to redraw the outline of the drawing that you have made, onto your embroidery fabric. Now that you've created the outline for you to follow, you now have to go back to your original drawing, and begin coloring in the different parts of your drawing. This will let you know a basis of what colors you are going to use, and where they are going to be on your embroidered fabric.
From here, the process is up to you to begin sorting out all of the colors and determining whether or not you have too many colors, or you do not have enough. It is good in some cases to have just a few colors for a simple drawing. If the design gets to complex, you'll only be stressed out in the long run. Take your time, and with patience you will build up your skill for turning your drawings into unique embroidery designs. has a large library of high quality embroidery designs. You can visit us to see different types of designs.

Pop Art in Britain

The emergence of the pop art movement has its roots in Britain. Historical records indicate that this movement emerged in UK during the 1950s as a direct distinction from the high brow culture of traditional art. This movement challenged everything that traditional art stood for and soon emerged as a strong contender. From Britain, this art form spread to other nations and flourished in different countries, especially in America. Even today, it is highly popular and many people vie to buy the various styles and versions that are continually being created. Through this article, we will try to examine how pop art emerged in Britain, how it took its name and the artists who helped promote the movement.
The Independent Group
The emergence of the art form has its initialization in the Independent Group.
This group was formed when critics, painters, architects, designers, musicians and other artists from diverse areas of work came together as one entity. This group challenged the standard norms of the industry and celebrated newness, novelty and individuality.
Emergence of the art form
During the 1954-55 session, the topic of Popular Culture was selected as the central theme for discussion. This theme was chosen as the group perceived that era to be of profound importance and as one that was witnessing various changes. It was also noted by the experts that art had to come to terms with that current culture rather than departing from it. The concept of escaping from prevalent culture or ignoring it was considered irrational, and experts decided that there was a need to embrace that as a form of art.
Exhibitions that kick-started pop art
After a series of many such discussions, the art form soon began to take shape. Exhibitions were regularly held with the most popular of these being titled 'this is tomorrow'. Conducted at White Chapel Art Gallery in London in 1956, it showcased various styles of art representing modern culture.
Emergence of the phrase: Pop Art
The term was coined around the same time. As per records, in the year 1954, 'pop art' was coined by John McHale for the movement that soon followed. This term was extensively used in discussions by the Independent Group. Much credit for popularizing this term also goes to Lawrence Alloway, a British art critic and curator who used it in a 1958 essay titled 'The Arts and the Mass Media'.
Popularizing the form
Once the movement started off with the support of the Independent Group, it had a good following. Both supporters and critics of the art form came across vociferously to get across their views. In this manner, the art form took shape and in the hands of a few artists took an improved form. From its origins in Britain, pop art quickly traveled to other parts of the world. America was specially influenced with many artists there adapting it to suit their culture and prevalent lifestyle.
Today pop art is a global phenomena, with many countries having their own special styles. However certain iconic styles like Warhol, Lichtenstein, Blek le Rat and Banksy have remained with us. Pop art continues to grow and thrive, with new trends continually fueling its growth and diversity. This is an art form that can only get better.
Ronan Le Breton is the owner of Personal Art, a pop art studio that is based in Bali and operational across the world. Through the virtual interface of its website, the site showcases its 21 (and growing!) variations of pop art. The site also provides suggestions on how personalised pop art can be created from digital photographs and printed on to a range of mediums, at their gift shop.

Cheap Basketball Shoes - What To Consider First

When it comes to the game of basketball, basketball shoes must offer toughness, support, permanence, and flexibility and shock absorption. It's also important that whenever you are going for something affordable, you want to buy shoes fit your style of playing of basketball.
The cheap basketball shoes you select should depend on what kind of player you are, power player, fast player or all-around player. Below are some suggestions of the shoes selection according to the type of player:
Power player
This type of players always wants cheap basketball shoes that can provide maximum flexibility and stability. These types of features will call for a weightier shoe.
All-around player
This type of players always tries to look for shoes which can provide moderate ankle support and cushioning. There are lots of cheap sneakers available in the market a player can choose from.
The bottom-line is this type of player wants a lighter shoe.
Fast player
Fast players are always going to want a lightweight shoe which offers them the moderate support, cushioning and flexibility when looking for basketball sneakers. Quick players may cater to a shoe that has a lower cut.
Another important factor that a player needs to consider when choosing a shoe is the construction of shoes. Being aware of the construction of basketball shoes allows you to determine what kind of shoes they will want. Below are some descriptions of the part of the shoe.
  1. Upper part
    The upper part of the basketball shoes is soft. The work of this part is to keep the foot in right place during the game.
  2. Shoe cut
    First of all one should always have to determine that where is he feels most easy in playing, high, mid or low after that tops is the first step in finding the right shoe for you.
Taking the above points into consideration one can find cheap basketball shoes that not only suit their game but are comfortable. The points brought out here are not hard and fast rules in regards to style of play and type of shoe. This is all just based on preferences and comfort. Some fast players still wear higher cut shoes, while some centers may still choose low cut. This post is simply to bring to your attention some of the factors that are considered when purchasing cheap basketball shoes. There is no doubt that you can find some great quality at an affordable price if you know where to look. Stay tuned for my next post.

9 Halloween Costume Ideas For Gay Couples

Halloween is the time of the year that you want to dress in your favorite costumes. You get the chance for one day to show off to others the character or celebrity that you always want to be. During the Halloween party, it will be more fun if you dress up in a couples costume. It will give more life and laughs by dressing up as a couple. There are many costume ideas for couples to choose from like scary, funny, superhero, etc.
If you are a same sex couple then you don't need to feel being left out every time Halloween comes. Just like ordinary male and female couples, you and your partner can dress up as a couple and have fun. There are many costume ideas available for gay couples and below are some of them:
Ace & Gary

Often refered to as the 'Ambiguously Gay Duo', Ace and Gary are a parody of the comic superhero, Batman and Robin who are often accused of secretly having a relationship. Ace and Gary are mainstays of Saturday Night Live. They make a perfect costume idea for gay couples. Everyone will surely have fun at your Halloween party if you don these costumes.
Bert & Ernie
Everybody's favorite Sesame Street characters, Bert and Ernie is like your left and right hand. If one doesn't exist, there is just something missing. This makes a perfect gay couple costume idea.
Two Screws
Another funny gay couple costume idea that is a variation of the plug and plug costume. Instead of 2 plugs, use two screws for your costume which will definitely give a lot of laughs and giggles at your next Halloween party.
Dumb & Dumber
Sometimes we love to hate them but they just look so funny which makes them very adorable. Dumb and Dumber are like mirror images of each other. If you and your partner want to show the world that you are very much into each other then wearing this costume will tell subtly of your status.
Chip & Dale
This two chipmunks created by Walt Disney is another good costume idea for gay couples. You and your partner will surely have lots of fun dressing up as Chip and Dale. These chipmunks are known for their naughty disposition who are always pestering Donald Duck. Why not ask a friend to dress as Donald Duck to form a group costume.
Mario & Luigi
Who doesn't know of best pals Mario and Luigi from the Super Mario Bros. game which was very popular during the 80s. Dress up as this cute Italian plumber twins for lots of fun.
Batman and Robin
A classic gay couple costume idea. There is no better way to portray that you are a perfect couple than by dressing up as Batman and Robin. You and your partner will surely get giggles when you use dress up as the Dynamic Duo.
Dress up as the British pop duo of the 80s. Become George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley at your next Halloween party. Wham! is one of the more popular pop bands of the 80s having sold over 25 million albums.
Peter Pan & Tinker Bell
Another costume idea that is a perfect fit for gay couples. You can be the boy from Neverland and your partner as the fairy, Tinker Bell If you prefer to portray a gentle character then dressing as Peter Pan and Tinker Bell is a good choice.
Wesley is blogger and editor at Halloween Costume Ideas For Couples. Costume Ideas For Couples is a website dedicated to provide you will the latest couples costume ideas.

Tips on How to Learn to Sing Well

Are you one of those who want to sing well or better but don't have a good voice or have little knowledge of the skills of singing? Maybe you like singing and are happy to share your sound with others, but how to improve your singing is such a big challenging for you that make you feel very frustrated. In fact, it is so easy if you have learnt some techniques about singing. And here are some great tips for you if you are still looking for the singing well tips.
First, you should learn how to sing naturally.
It is a great tip for a beginner. And it means that you should sing with free mood and open voice which help to stimulate all your singing ability and vocal cords. Remember that it is a naturally event for you. Just enjoy your singing then you'll find you have been a "super" singer.
Second, select the songs according with your vocal range.

Only when you sing the songs corresponding with your vocal range, you'll feel free and ease. In the details, you should know your voice type and tone. There are too many songs with various styles. What you should do is to find which one is suit for your voice. Do not try too much songs with different styles. If you do, you'll find it will be unpleasant experience.
Third, more practice help you to get improvement soon.
Just practice your singing everyday for an hour. You can sing aloud with your will at anytime if it is not a disturb for others. More practice help you to be skilled at it and more familiar with your favorite songs which can help you to improve your singing effectively.
Fourth, select the songs which you can find feeling.
It help you to feel free to sing. If you sing high up at first, then a little bit lower tone, which is comfortable to continue it later. So your good intonation is no problem at all.
In addition to proper posture and breathing are also important for one who want to sing well. Of course, you can learn more details about them on the internet. You also can find some useful suggests and tips on my blog. In a word, for those who want to sing well, it is not a problem at all if you can learn some skills and practice them.

Getting A Tattoo - 3 Easy Tips For A Great Tattoo Experience

If you think that getting a tattoo has to be a bad experience, it doesn't have to. In fact, if you follow a few simple tips, it can be very fun and easy. Getting a tattoo is a lot of fun for many people, but for some the experience can be a little less than fun.
If you are new to tattoos, or have had an unpleasant experience with getting a tattoo done before, there are some simple things you can do that can make a huge difference as you are getting a tattoo on your body.
Make sure you are feeling well before getting a tattoo done.
A seasoned tattoo recipient knows how much pain will be involved, and is likely used to it. So if he or she doesn't feel all that well, they may go ahead and keep their appointment even if they are feeling a bit under the weather.

If you are not one of these people, make sure you feel OK!
Being even a little bit sick can ruin a persons day to begin with, but if you add sitting in a tattoo chair for hours on end, and then add the discomfort that a tattoo brings for some people, you will not have the best experience.
If you have to reschedule, your artist will understand and you will be able to get back in when you are feeling better.
If you are getting a tattoo, eat something before the appointment.
There is nothing worse than getting a tattoo and realizing that on top of your skin burning, your stomach is burning too. If you are prone to fainting or getting nauseous, this means that you need to have something in your stomach before you go for your appointment.
Even if it's something fast and easy, that's better than hunger pains ruining your tattooing experience.
Don't be in a bad mood.
This one should be the easiest, right? The experience of getting a tattoo on your body is a really great one, so go into your tattoo shop of your choice and leave your problems at home.
I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to be poked a million times with tattoo needles while thinking about the job that I hate, or the annoying neighbor!
Go into your appointment in a positive mood, and your appointment will be a positive experience, not only for you, but for your artist as well!
Follow these simple tips before your appointment, and you will not even notice the minor burning sensation on your skin during your body modification.