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Expo to showcase one-of-a-kind artists


Bay’s iconic International Tattoo & Art Expo more than skin deep

Thursday, November 10, 2016: Stars of the hit reality TV show Ink Masters, a traditional Japanese tattoo artist and a man who paints on canvas using his own blood are the headline acts joining some of the world’s best street artists and performers at the 2017 International Tattoo & Art Expo in Tauranga.

Now in its seventh year, the two-day event is the only convention in the Bay of Plenty to showcase the works of renowned international, national and local tattoo artists.

The expo made the move from Hamilton for the first time this year – a reflection of the event’s scale, says organiser Chris Preece of the Queen Elizabeth Centre location.

“With a bigger focus on street culture and more family friendly attractions lined up, the event has just gone from strength to strength. This year, we’ve got some big names from the tattoo world, but we’ve also got some well-known performers in our music and graffiti art arena – so it’s set to be a huge weekend.”

Headliners of the expo include Jime Litwalk and Katherine ‘Tatu Baby’ Flores from the hit US reality TV show Ink Masters, who are not just known for their incredibly diverse and eye-catching work, but also their wild personalities.

From Japan, traditional irezumi tattoo artist Ryugen specialises in tebori (hand poke tattooing). Tattoo art in the East Asia country has a history dating back to the Palaeolithic era and was at one point associated with the yakuza (Japanese organised crime syndicate).

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And then there’s Dr Rev, who creates incredibly detailed artworks – from his own blood. The Australian is a regular at the International Tattoo and Art Expo and never fails to disappoint the crowd.

National artists include Tuigamala ‘Andy’ Tauafiafi from Wellington’s Taupou Tatau, a specialist in traditional Samoan ‘tatau’ who has tattooed the likes of Kiwi basketball star Steven Adams, and Tauranga’s own Benjamin Lloyd, who became a viral internet sensation for his airbrushed tattoos on children at Starship Children’s Health hospital.

Chris, who founded the event because he believes art in all forms should be celebrated and showcased, says to have artists and tattooists of this calibre in the Bay is a rare opportunity for the community – from those seeking a new piece of skin art, to those who simply want to experience art in all its unique forms.

“Art isn’t just what you see on a canvas. Tattooists see the skin as a blank canvas on which they can create extraordinary works. Whether you’re a tattoo aficionado or not, you can appreciate the skill and craft that goes into creating these pieces.”

This year’s expo is more than just a tattoo-centric experience, adds Chris, with a heavy focus on complementary performances and events around these world-class ink artists.

Music features performances from local musician Tiki Taane and a beatbox battle, hosted by the award-winning DJ Spell. Other events during the weekend-long expo include the ever-popular Miss Tattoo NZ beauty competition, aerial silk contortionist-turned-body builder Cassie Law, street art displays and the NZ versus Australia four-man Historical Medieval Battles.

Chris says a focus on supporting attractions will make a trip to the expo a well-rounded experience, with something for everyone to enjoy.

“Mums and dads can marvel at the tattoo art and performances, while kids can be captivated by the live musical acts and street artists.

“It’s a window into a unique part of our arts and performance culture, and something you don’t get to experience every day. Make this a must-see on your summer event list!”

The International Tattoo & Art Expo is on Saturday, February 18, 11am-10pm and Sunday, February 19, 11am-7pm, at Queen Elizabeth Youth Centre, Tauranga.

Tickets: $20. Available for pre-purchase online from Eventfinda and also on the door.

For a full list of artists and performers, visit


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