Bold body of artwork in tattoos
CHEEKS, eyelids, breasts and even genitals — seemingly nowhere is off limits for the growing number of tattoo lovers turning their entire bodies into canvases for intricate collections of body ink.
No longer confined to sailors and criminals, tattoos have pervaded mainstream culture and appear prominently on a growing number of people from all walks of life, regardless of age, gender or even profession.
Proving the popularity of the practice, thousands of body ink enthusiasts have already streamed through the doors of the WA leg of the Australian Tattoo Expo, which concludes at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre today.
Many left with a new piece of artwork, unable to resist the temptation to add to their stockpile from one of the scores of tattoo artists — local, national and international — showing off their handiwork at the event.
Wayne “Blue” Hackett paid $3 for his first tattoo shortly after joining the navy as an 18-year-old.
Forty years later this past May he finally completed his “shirt” and now boasts a chest, back and arms completely covered in tatts.
One of his favourite pieces is a Gene Simmons portrait on his abdomen. When the Kiss superstar signed his name beneath the tattoo, Mr Hackett promptly got the signature inked, too.
“I did the same with Alice Cooper on this side of my head,” he said.
“I’ve had a passion for tattoos
since I was six years old and saw somebody that looked like I do now walking down the street in Kings Cross.”
The 58-year-old from Yangebup has the words “The” and “End” tattooed on his eyelids because “It will be hilarious when I’m lying in the coffin” and claims to have nine separate tattoos on his genitals. The Sunday Times did not ask for evidence.
Mandurah mum Stephanie Fragomeli’s love affair with body modification began with facial piercings as a young teen before she dived straight into the deep end with a prominent chest tattoo at 19.
“I wanted to get the biggest, hardest tattoo I could first up so that I knew I could handle it,” she said.
“Admittedly that first one was kind of s--- and I’ve had it covered up since then.”
Daughter Dylan Stanley, 6, accompanying Ms Fragomeli at the expo, was in no rush to follow in mum’s footsteps.
“I don’t want any,” she said.
For 36-year-old FIFO worker Damon Amos, tattoos started as teenage rebellion but quickly grew into an addiction. An expensive one.
“In the early days they all had to mean something, but now I’ll just get something new wherever it fits,” the Jane Brook resident said.
“I probably get one every three months on average and have spent easily $40,000 to $50,000.”
Pet store worker Kate O’Connell, from Kewdale, views tattoos as artwork and her body as a gallery.
“I see artists or designs that I like and I just can’t help myself,” she said. “I can go for months without getting anything new done, but if I keep coming across things I want I’ll get three in a week.”
WA ink: From facing page, left to right, Birget Lembe, 30, from Estonia; Wayne ‘Blue’ Hackett, 58, of Yangebup; Jake Boyer, 25, of Melbourne; Stephanie Fragomeli, 27, of Mandurah with daughter Dylan Stanley, 6; and Damon Amos, 36, from Jane Brook with son Hudson, 7 months.