Yellow is now deep into its year of illustrating the news. Today the 43rd artist of the series covers stories of unrest in the far east.

Last week Japan trembled at the news of a split in the country’s biggest Yakuza clan: Yamaguchi-guma. Thousands of the gang’s members broke with tradition to splinter and form their own group, the Kobe Yamaguchi-gumi, risking country-wide gang warfare.

Handling week 43 of Yellow, our series of artists illustrating a year of news, and covering this story is Ben the Illustrator; an artist working out of Somerset who has created pieces for clients including Aardman and The Boston Globe. We asked Ben what drew him to illustrate this story:

“In a country where the gang culture involves so many people and so much money, the Yakuza breakup isn’t just a story of in-fighting, but a human interest story.  Tattoos are one of the most known elements of the Yakuza culture, the way nothing shows when you wear a shirt, it’s very iconic.

“The tattoos may be incredible, produced in secrecy by master tattoo artists across Japan using very specific techniques, but of course with any gang culture, it’s brutal.  So in this illustration the tattoo crosses the line, it breaks the faithful tradition of not tattooing down the centre of the torso, much like how members of Yamaguchi-guma broke the tradition of faithfulness within their own syndicate and now find themselves forming a new gang.”


Click here for all the illustrations in our Yellow series.

Coming up in Yellow: Pete Fowler (next Monday) Hattie StewartMalika FavreChris Simpsons Artist and Matt the Horse.