Last year, the Australian Tattoo Expo landed in Sydney with new management and a new direction.
The feedback from the industry and the general public was so positive that this year’s Expo has exploded. Making the move to a larger venue – the ICC at Darling Harbour – to host more than 300 national and international tattoo artists and more alternative pageant girls than you can shake a stick at, the Sydney chapter of the 2017 Australian Tattoo Expo is not an occasion you’re going to want to miss.
“Over the last two years we’ve changed most things about the Expo,” says director Kevin Mack. “We’ve increased the attending artists – a lot more time is given to the artists in accommodating them – and this year we’ve introduced the Australian Tattoo Series, which kicks off at Sydney: artists enter the awards then go in for best overall in the series.
“The artist with the most awards overall wins $10,000 and a feature with Inked Magazine, amongst other things.”
Historically, the Australian Tattoo Expo has been a great platform for both local and international artists to showcase their work and meet their peers. Arlo DiCristina of Colorado is one visiting artist who Mack is particularly enamoured with (“He’s one of the best – it’ll be his first time attending the show,” says Mack).
Above: Matt Curzon
There are also homegrown names to check out. “Matt Curzon [above] is the best in the world – he pretty much travels the world attending most of the big conventions. His particular style is unlike anyone else’s; it’s flawless.
“We have a lot of the young kids that are coming up now – Jackson May is a young Aussie artist specialising in realism, definitely one to look out for. We have some big returns to the show too: Ben Laukis, Troy Slack, Brendan Boz; these guys are some of the country’s best artists.”
It’s good to know industry heavyweights will be taken care of, but what’s in it for the attending public?
“The live entertainment,” Mack replies. “We’ve grown the pageants from ten girls to 50 or 60 wanting to do it, and there’s a lot more stage presence – always a fun show. We have a live Red Bull DJ in a Red Bull van, plus freebies and promotions.
“We’ve also got the Australian tattoo talk. Rhys Gordon has been tattooing for over 20 years and he gets the guys who’ve been tattooing for over 40 years up to talk – it’s kind of mind-blowing how hard it was to introduce tattooing here. So in between talks, girls, DJs and tattooing, I don’t know that the public will be lost for anything to do!”
Above: Little Tokyo
The expo is bringing together body art lovers and artists alike, but there’s still an historical stigma associated with the practice. In the past, tattoos have often been associated with the rotten underbelly of society – but Mack believes we’ve moved on.
“I believe that stigma is gone from society today; the only remaining thing is the public who don’t know any better.
“The days when tattoos were associated with criminals, that was 20 years ago, they’re gone now. These artists are just great artists and society needs to let go of this old stigma on the industry because it’s just not relevant.
“I think it’s important to touch upon the perception in the industry – we promote fairly well, we get the patrons in fine, but it’s more important to me to get that message to the public as often as we can about stigma in the industry.”