The journey to the New Zealand Tattoo and Art Festival was absolutely unforgettable. I along with over 250 artists from around the world made quite some effort to come to this tattoo event and all for good reason.
I arrived in Auckland after a 3-hour plane flight and jumped into a rental car to make the rest of the way to New Plymouth. Being my first time in New Zealand and having spent the last 4 years in the concrete jungle that is Sydney, I was completely overwhelmed with amount of awe inspiring beauty the country side had to offer. The 5-hour drive to New Plymouth seemed like a psychedelic adventure unlike any of the incredible scenic drives that I have been on in Australia, even incomparable to the Great Ocean Road in Victoria.
Onnie O’Leary working in her own unique style of tattoo at the NZ Tattoo Festival
Matt Jordan from Ship Shape Tattoo chipping away at a huge black and grey realism bodysuit.
Claire Reid adding onto this clients awesome tattoo collection.
Special guest Paul Acker working on a Rob Zombie portrait.
Carl Grace over from the states working on one of his amazing freehand tattoos.
What I found fascinating was how tattoos are perceived in comparison with Australia. Usually I am greeted with stares and am somewhat stereotyped through my tattoo coverage, but as I drove through the small towns between Auckland and New Plymouth I saw many older women wearing a “Ta Moko” (A Maori Tattoo) as an expression of cultural pride and integrity which painted a picture of New Zealand’s sociology for me.
Jay Freestyle over from Amsterdam doing a stunning piece on a lucky client.
I woke up on the morning of the tattoo festival and was greeted with the most spectacular view of Mount Taranaki, which could be seen from every corner of New Plymouth and especially right outside of the TSB Stadium where the festival was held. That in itself was worthy of making the trip over.
I made my way past the insanely long line up to get tickets and went straight inside and up to the second level to take a birds-eye view of the thousands of people in attendance. I now see the full effect of what fantastic marketing looks like as there wasn’t one person in the whole city that didn’t know the event was on. There were banners on buses and cabs, on walls and in shops, you couldn’t not see that is was on.
I spent the day wandering around the venue watching all the amazing pieces that were in progress and walking outside of the stadium every hour to see the awesome entertainment this festival had to offer. People made a whole day of this event and the volume of people in attendance was consistent all day as people came not only to see the tattoos being made, but to see the insane amount of entertainment that was held every hour on the hour.
From the Nitro Circus and Crusty Demon riders showcasing an array of aerial stunts/tricks, to freestyle BMX riders, stunning burlesque dancers performing their theatrical productions, Venus Starr performing on the aerial silks and her hula hoop routine, Cervena Fox with her awesome fire routine, The “Death Do Us Part” knife throwing danger show and countless bands and MC’s throughout the day.
This event seemed like it spared no expense and was definitely one of the most entertaining and enjoyable festivals I have ever been to.
The winner of “Tattoo of the day – Saturday” was Karl Van Der Linden from Taradale in New Zealand with this stunning black and grey realism leg sleeve!
The winner of “Tattoo of the day – Sunday” was Emma Kerr from Bohemian Tattoo Arts in Tauranga, New Zealand with this beautiful and vibrant sternum tattoo!