His resulting Bulleit bottle design is modeled after Japanese woodblock prints of the mid- to late-1800s. It features a fox (in Japan known as a kitsune, and a common subject of Japanese folklore) with a snake wrapped around it, and peonies (spring flowers that are prevalent in both Oregon and Japan), all framed by clouds and a silhouette of Oregon’s Mount Hood -- reminiscent of Japan’s Mount Fuji in the background of so much Japanese artwork.
The collectible tattoo bottles, including Kundell’s fox and snake design, are available for purchase in each artist’s respective state -- Oregon, California, Texas, and New York -- and select bottles will be available nationwide. Though the Tattoo Edition marks the first time that Bulleit’s iconic bottle has been altered, it actually proved less stressful to Kundell than inking a person.
“Especially at the beginning stages, there’s really, in some ways, no pressure,” he says. “It’s not going on someone’s body for the rest of their life, so not every single part needs to be thought out [in advance].”
Creating his personalized bottle also meant a rare act of working with digital tools. While Kundell sees tattooing blending more with graphic arts as the next frontier of the industry -- “There are a lot more tattooers using iPads and things like that” -- that’s not his style. As is fitting with Portland’s quirky vibe, DIY mentality, and love of organic living, Kundell likes to describe his tattooing as “authentically artisanal” (only slightly tongue-in-cheek).
“Not that I have a problem with [iPads].... I’m [just] more keeping with my traditional roots in terms of drawings,” says Kundell, who still sketches all of his preliminary thumbnails and layouts by hand. “I’m keeping it artisanal, which is very much embraced here.”
Please Drink Responsibly. BULLEIT Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. 45% Alc/Vol. The Bulleit Distilling Co., Louisville, KY.