Sydney Tattoo & Body Art Expo 2012

Published: 30 April, 2012 - Featured in Skin Deep 211, May, 2012

The 4th Sydney Tattoo and Body Art Expo were held on the weekend of March 9-11 at Olympic park, Sydney, Australia. The Expo was held over three amazingly packed days – something was happening on the main stage the whole time the show went on, everything from burlesque dancers to body suspension.

This is Australia’s largest tattoo expo of its kind. It’s a must-attend international event that attracts artists from all around the world and has a huge and varied entertainment program over the course of the three days. Basically, it’s loaded to keep you entertained from start to finish.

This year, Australia was well represented with over 315 highly talented tattooists and body piercers from all over the country. There were also more than 140 international artists who attended this year; among them were Nikko Hurtado, Horimasa Bunshin Saikan and Engelhard. With over 20 countries being represented this year, from Germany, France and the UK, to USA, Japan and Borneo, each year this event is getting larger and more international, proving that the Sydney Tattoo & Body Art Expo will continue to grow and be able to bring more spectacular entertainment each and every year.

Among the tattooists, we found Horiiso and Syodai from Soutebori Hadae Dojyo, Japan who were using a traditional tattooing style. The artists were sitting on a mat on the floor, using modern day steel needles tied to bamboo handles to tattoo. This stand was constantly surrounded with people; you could see they were amazed to see both of the artists still using traditional methods and many of them had never seen this style of tattooing in person before.

During the three days there were many different tattoo categories to show off your artwork. At the end of each day, was the Best Tattoo of the Day (completed at the Expo) category for both male and female. This was very popular and gave the crowd an opportunity to see the quality of work done here. Other tattoo categories scattered through the three days included Small/ Medium, Best Bio-mechanical, Best Large, Best Portrait/Realistic, Best Tribal/Celtic, Best Back, Best Sleeve, and Best Asian, with all tattoo categories being divided into colour, black and grey, male and female. There were some great tattoos on display and the competition was quite fierce; the judges had their work cut out for them that’s for sure. It was also an excellent opportunity to get a good look at the quality of tattoo work that was worn by all the collectors of tattoos at the Expo.

If you wanted to see something completely different then you didn’t want to miss the live body suspension show. These live performances were done by First Blood Sydney. Dan Lovett had hooks through both calves, thighs and forearms. Once he was lifted off the bed, he was then hung upside-down in a suicide position. You could see that the onlooking audience were amazed by the performance they were watching. The act of hanging the human body from hooks pierced through the skin is certainly something you should see at least once. They certainly put on a crowd-pleasing show. Not only where the volunteers suspended from hooks, but they were then swung over the audience and spun around, showing just what the human body is capable of tolerating.

Dr Rev, the renowned blood painter, showcased his skills at the Expo by air-brushing with his own blood – for his live demonstration, the airbrush was connected directly to his vein!  If you wanted to take an unusual piece of art home with you, Dr Rev’s booth was certainly the place to be. Of note here, Dr Rev has been busy lately raising awareness of the importance of donating blood. Let’s enforce that here for him – if you’re able to in-between tattoo sessions, get down to your local centre and give up a pint. You know it makes sense.

Australia’s very own Penthouse Pet of the Year and tattooed model, Ashlee Adams, was the face of the Expo. Ashlee was on hand to pose for a photo or pick up a signed calendar. She was definitely a major crowd pleaser at the Expo. Meanwhile, Advanced Airbrush could be found busily showcasing their talents, airbrushing the bodies of some very beautiful ladies. You couldn’t tell if the models were actually wearing clothes or not. Advanced Airbrush had a couple of vehicles on display they had airbrushed, including a T-Bucket Ford which had been painted using the theme, True Blood. The owner of this was Adam, whose wife was from Pretty In Ink, a tattoo studio from West Ryde.

A free daily seminar presented by Kian Forreal from Inner Vision Tattoo, proved to be very popular with Kian explaining the meaning behind certain tattoos. These seminars were always full with standing room only. Another seminar was Japanese Mythical Monsters presented by Crystal Gayle from Gomineko Books, Japan.
You could see some amazing live art featuring the very talented Aussie urban art heroes, Houl, Dirt and Sprinkles. These guys are referred to as ‘renaissance legends’; they had finished the artwork by Sunday and it was really something to behold, what with all the details they had been able to achieve using mainly spray cans.

Australasian Wrestling Federation was a huge attraction, putting on two amazing shows each day. You could feel the tension in the air when the wrestlers came together in the ring. And they didn’t hold back as they put on some great wrestling throughout the three days – at one stage the blood started flowing freely from a cut to the head. Benny Cole was a real favourite, especially with the kids, and another great wrestler was TNT.

Overall, the event went off brilliantly.  It was well organised, very professional and as an added bonus, there was plenty of parking at the Expo. Olympic Park is well situated close to motels in the area, and once you were there, you didn’t have to leave with hot food available at a reasonable price. If you are planning on attending next year, the Expo will be moving to the Entertainment Precient at Fox Studios, Moore Park. The confirmed dates March 8-10, 2013. The organisers are also holding the 1st Melbourne Tattoo and Body Art Expo which will take place on November, 9-11, 2012.

The City Itself

Sydney hosts many different festivals and some of Australia’s largest social and cultural events. These include the Sydney Festival, Australia’s largest arts festival which is a celebration involving both indoor and free outdoor performances throughout January; the Biennale of Sydney dedicated to international and Australian contemporary art; the Big Day Out, a travelling rock-music festival which originated in Sydney; the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras along Oxford Street; the Sydney Film Festival and many other smaller film festivals such as the short film Tropfest and Flickerfest. Sculpture by the Sea, Australia’s largest outdoor sculpture exhibit, began at Bondi Beach in 1996.


Text: Tracey Brodin; Photography: Various