News State NSW News Tattoo lovers hit Sydney

Tattoo lovers hit Sydney

Tattoo expo
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David Prieto wears a suit every minute of his life.

And he can’t take it off because it’s one enormous tattoo that took 500 hours to complete.

Only the Californian’s face remains uncovered by the heads of celebrities.

A man of many faces: David Prieto. Photo: AAP

“I like my face too much,” he said at the Sydney leg of the Australian Tattoo and Body Art Expo on Friday.

“I have one leg full of gangsters, one leg full of TV shows, my stomach, my ribs and my hips is all horror movies.

“My arm is all musicians, my head’s all comedians, my back is all inventors, my arse is tattooed with Cheech and Chong.”

Around 250 artists, 16,000 tattoo enthusiasts, pin-up models and street bike stunt riders are expected to attend the Sydney event.

Much of the crowd is heavily inked but but some arms and legs are obviously bare and seeking their first tat.

Some attendees, like Tony Cohen, are legends of the industry.

The owner of Sydney’s Illustrated Man has been a tattoo artist for 45 years, long before tattooing became the booming industry it now is.

He says he loves that tattoos have become so popular but is concerned with the direction of the industry.

“People getting all their heads tattooed… it’s just against my religion of tattooing,” he told AAP as he tattooed two large artworks on the thighs of a young woman.

“But nothing’s going to change it… they can’t rub them out.”

A young man once asked Mr Cohen to tattoo swastikas on him – an idea he bluntly calls “rubbish”.

He says it’s up to the industry to self-regulate but knows “there’ll always be someone out there who will do it (face tattoos) … and take the money.”

In Helen Hew’s home country, getting tattooed is a big decision.

The Malaysian artist says the industry is starting to grow but pales in comparison to the Australian scene.

“People are willing to pay for the art they want,” she said.

The event is on in Sydney until Sunday before heading to Perth in June, Adelaide in August and Melbourne in December.


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