Bold body of art­work in tat­toos

The Sunday Times - - News - JOSH ZIM­MER­MAN

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.”

Pic­tures: Daniel Wilkins

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.

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