I arrived not really knowing what to expect. After receiving my media pass I lined up with everybody else just before the festival was due to open on its first day at 2pm. As we all began to march inside the exhibition hall at the Gold Coast Arts Centre, I noticed the various demographics of my fellow festival attendees. Adolescent hipsters sporting colourful and ironic tattoos stood beside 40 year old mums and dads that looked like they hadn’t been inked since the 80’s. In front of me stood a group of 30-something year old tattoo fanatics covered head to toe, and finally the grandfathers of fringe; the 70+ year olds with faded blurs of ink on their forearms stood at the back of the line; the original bad-asses.
The Surf n’ Ink Festival was set up like any other exhibition with exhibitor stalls, a place to get food and drink and a little stage set up in the corner of the hall. What really stood out though, was the constant buzz of tattoo guns; with 98 separate exhibitors at the festival, there was always somebody that was getting tattooed.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that there was a definite crowd favourite; the Samoan Traditional Hand Tap Tattooing stall. Over the buzz of the electric tattoo guns you could still clearly hear the tap of wood against metal, but thankfully you couldn’t hear the ‘thump’ of blade against skin.
Most stalls at the festival were exhibitors from various national and international tattoo parlours, but there were also grunge art stalls, airbrush tattoos for kids and laser removal stalls for the pink love heart you got when you were drunk, or the squiggly backyard-jobs that don’t make you look so tough anymore.
The stage held host to a number of shows including ‘Art Fusion’, which was basically a professional version of what could be a kid’s board game. Four artists take to the stage and have a limited amount of time to draw something on a sheet of paper, once the time is up the artists move along one spot and work on the next persons drawing until they have completed a full cycle. This made for some amazingly creative pieces that would morph into something completely different at each rotation.
There was some awesome talent on show at the Surf n’ Ink Festival. It provided a platform for inspiration about future tattoos, remedies for old ones you want to forget and access to some of the best artists in the world to give you a brand spanking new one.
Written by Locke Fitzpatrick