Inked AU/NZ #25 - Authent/Ink

Inked AU/NZ – Authentink Article – March 2014

by Kian ‘Horisumi’ Forreal


Cranky Monday morning… been a huge weekend dealing with the convention every day, socializing by night and then late night Sunday unpacking, sorting, putting everything away in the studio etc… hard work when you have a big booth like the Authentink Studio crew did.

Was a great turnout this past weekend (Mar7-8-9) at the Sydney Expo, thank you so much to all of you that came by the booth and said hi and got tattooed!! We were much busier than I expected with all of the shops artists doing their pre-arranged clients, walk-ups and consulting all weekend while juggling tattoo stations and making every minute count in the booth. Was a nice feeling to have built something that was doing well and not only making me happy but also enriching the lives of the artists that I work with. Giving them a place to thrive.

I would have liked to have seen more international artists attend but there was so much uncertainty as to who was allowed to work with and without tattoo licenses it really just turned into a clusterfuck of confusion until the last 2 weeks before the show when it was announced that unlicensed artists could work, but it still left the unanswered questions of international artists that by law (irrespective of the tattoo parlours act of 2012) still needed proper work visas to legally enter Australia and tattoo in public for financial gain. With so much attention on tattooing very very few overseas artists took the chance to come here and risk being turned back at the airport for entering with intention to work or being arrested at the convention for working illegally. Makes me sick.

Now that we are all licensed and regulated as card carrying tattoo artists and legitimate business people it is our right to demand to be treated as such. We need to establish clear guidelines of what is and is not legal for Australian tattoo conventions and guest appearances by overseas tattoo artists for the purpose of training, learning and sharing tattoo culture.

Seriously, why bother going through all the trouble of being licensed, paying huge fees and taxes and jumping through all these legal, financial and otherwise time wasting hoops to still be marginalized by not only the city councils, the police and the federal government but the Department of Immigration as well. I tattoo lots of NSW Police as do the people that work with me, and that’s all well and fine, but at some point the NSW Police need to go ‘ok, these guys over here, here and here etc.. are not ones we are looking at and pose no threat or harm to society’ and they need to put a little check beside our names so we can get on with running a normal business. I need to bring in overseas artists to answer the tattoo market demand for different styles of work and to offer certain artists specific work to a discerning Australian clientele. We also need to learn and share techniques among ourselves globally to grow not only as artists but also as professionals and business people, nearly every other trade and profession allows this to happen, from doctors to lawyers, to IT to mechanics etc.

If there is anyone serious out there that can help facilitate a legal way to bring this about please contact me… because there is no one representing us in any meaningful way, there are no groups or associations or anything else that actually does anything to further legitimize tattooing and help it progress legally or in the public perception. Something actually needs to happen other than facebook pages, rants and angry posts otherwise our tattoo culture here I Australia will become atrophied, incestuous and dull. And on top of that the weekly and sometimes daily media war against us that I touched on last time that continues to push tattoo art into the gutter in the public mind. We need a voice that pushes back and also has teeth. I am not a lawyer or particularly well versed in Australian law so there’s not much I can do other than rally a call to try and get something done but someone with the logistical support, the time and resources. I have no doubt that if an infrastructure was set up that serious artists would contribute financially in some way, its in all our vested interests.

On a lighter note… one of the funnier things I noticed at the convention was the massive hipster-ish contingent, I had no idea they had invaded the tattoo scene to this extent! There were more tattooed nerdy types at the expo than steroid pumped douchebags.. (yes I am labeling people for the purpose of storytelling, get over it J )

It was more of a beards and fake boobs convention, I mean I have a beard, I have for years but I was swimming in a sea of skinny ‘20 somethings’ with bigger beards than me, haha.. like a bloody Taliban religious festival, except for all the huge tits on display. Nothing to complain about of course. And lets talk about kids in skinny jeans and skinny shorts with boat shoes and beards and sleeves of old school tattoos, and I have no doubt that if it was allowed at the show they would have been walking their pugs or French bulldogs, they are so on trend right now.

What the hell happened? I must’ve been sleeping because it looks to me that a huge portion of tattooing has been co-opted by this generation of I don’t even know what to call them… I want to say hipster but I am not even sure that covers it…

Used to be that to be tattooed you probably had to be able to punch on at least a little bit, because back in the day if you were in bar, to be heavily tattooed you certainly stood out and that meant you attracted good and bad attention equally, to be a tattoo artist was on another level, and to work in a shop you definitely had to be able to at the very least stand your ground and throw some punches as people fucked with you all the time, barbaric you may say but 5-10-20 years ago these were more authentic times, a lot less people were playing dress-up gangster or hard guy and actually were what they looked like and they were playing to win, and the ones that were playing dress-up, they were called POSERS.

Ahhhh…. That’s the word I was looking for before.

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