HUNTER INK: $44,000 spent on a living canvas, photos, poll 

HUNTER INK: Studios feel the heat from war on bikies

HUNTER INK: ‘Who looks good when they’re old anyway?’

The needle and the damage undone: poll

THINK BEFORE INK: Amie Golding, with her 12years of tattoo art. Picture: Anita Jones

Picture: Anita Jones

Jane Grono of Maitland. Picture: Anita Jones

Picture: Anita Jones

Picture: Anita Jones

Tammy Henderson Of Marks Point Picture Anita Jones

Picture: Anita Jones

Chantelle Overy of Maryville Picture Anita Jones

Picture: Anita Jones

Amie Golding of Kotara Picture Anita Jones

NOT everyone is spending $44,000 on turning their body into a work of art like Amie Golding.

Picture: Anita Jones

Picture: Anita Jones

But getting ink has exploded into the mainstream in the Hunter with more than 2400 tattoo appointments carried out each month. There are more than 20tattoo studios operating in the region and some artists are booked out for months.


Diabolik tattoo artist Eddy-Lou said the business averagedabout 60 appointments a week.

Many studios said the demand was for large and intricate pieces that could take weeks of full-day sessions. The rate is typically $150 an hour.

“I think Newcastle has more tattoo artists per person than most other cities; there are heavily tattooed people everywhere,” Eddy-Lou said.

But, with such a proliferation of tattoos in the city, business is also booming to have them removed.

One of the main establishments providing the service is Coco Skin and Laser incorporating Newcastle Tattoo Removal. Owner Sarah Chatburn opened her business two years ago and averages about 50 tattoo removal appointments a week.

Such is the strength of the industry in Newcastle, her business became the first establishment in NSW to get a PicoSure laser – a machine that costs “as much as a house” because of its new technology that obliterates tattoos.

“The tattoo ink is shattered a lot more rapidly and there is less disruption to the skin,” Ms Chatburn explained.

She said people were no longer thinking of tattoos as a lifetime commitment because of how easy it was to zap them away.

It’s not cheap – the minimum for a PicoSure session is $450, and to remove larger tattoos can be upward of $1000 a visit as part of a progressive process.

“It’s become unusual to be under the age of 30 and be clean skinned,” said Ms Chatburn, adding that this was evidenced in a massive increase in DIY tattoos among young people (she sees an average of two or three clients a week for this reason).

A search of eBay shows tattoo machine kits can be delivered to your door for between $50 and $400.

“I’ve noticed it more and more in the last 12 months,” Ms Chatburn said. “That young generation is really different because they think ‘oh well I’ll just get it removed’. They just see it as fun really.

“At least they’re easier to remove – it isn’t deposited into the skin very deeply.”

Eddy-Lou does two or three “cover-ups” for botched DIY jobs each week.

With large tattoos decorating her own legs, Eddy-Lou describes her artistic speciality as neo-traditional. She said the three most popular tattoo styles at the moment were traditional, realism and surrealism.

The reinvigorated culture of the 1950s pin-up girl is also leading to more females getting ink done.

“I get a lot of females aged 18 to 25; I’m often very surprised by the coverage people are getting,” she said.

‘‘We see everyone from a teacher at an Anglican college to police officers.’’

Ms Chatburn said the most common thing she had been removing lately was the Nordic Star symbol.

“There actually isn’t a demographic on who gets tattoos removed,” she said. “I can think of clients in their 60s and clients in their 20s.’’

Carrington’s Peggy Sue Butler, 25 described her tattoos as a personal journey: ‘‘Mine function like a sort of timeline and are usually steeped in whatever I’m reading at the time. It’s a good way to keep track of oneself.’’

Mayfield artist Willow Morgaine, 48, saw tattoos as a form of expression: ‘‘I notice there’s a lot of artists tattooing now – it’s changed from copying a tattoo from a board.’’

FOR a lot of people $44,000 is money best spent on a house deposit, a new car or an epic overseas adventure.

Yet Amie Golding has spent that much over 12 years, inking artwork all over her body.

Working in the hospitality industry and covered in tattoos, the 28-year-old can’t hide away from the inevitable stares and odd remarks.

She has grown accustomed to them but feels she can change people’s perceptions.

‘‘I get more positive than negative comments,’’ she said.

‘‘A lot of people haven’t seen tattoos like mine.’’

Ms Golding remembers a time when she hardly knew any other girls covered in tattoos.

However she has seen the number of people getting in on the practice grow ‘‘dramatically’’ over the past five years.

‘‘Now I think everyone wants to be on the scene,’’ she said.

‘‘They do it only to be cool and they don’t really think about it.’’

But Ms Golding said there is a certain amount of respect you need to have when getting a tattoo.

‘‘I believe you’ve got to earn it,’’ she said.

‘‘People who get full neck tattoos – we call them ‘job stoppers’ – straight away. That’s the last thing you do to your body.

‘‘I got my first one on my back, hidden away.’’

That tattoo, a nautical star inked on when Ms Golding was just 16, is a regret – she plans to have it removed.

She wishes she had waited a few years before beginning her obsession and warns others against getting a tattoo too early.

‘‘From the age of 16 to 21 you change so much as a person,’’ Ms Golding said.

Older and wiser, Ms Golding now saves her money and only gets tattooed by some of the best artists in the world.

Her body is now covered in stylish portraits of actors, actresses and musicians.

Her favourite, a portrait of Elvis Presley which cost $4000, is inked on her thigh.

Comments are closed.