Crowds flocked to New Plymouth’s TSB Stadium for the 2023 New Zealand Tattoo and Art Festival. Photo / Alyssa Smith
The buzzing of tattoo guns and tools filled New Plymouth’s TSB Stadiums as over 250 artists tattooed at the Bepanthem New Zealand Tattoo and Art Festival over the weekend.
There were many varying styles of tattoos, with realistic, tāmoko, modern, vintage, colorful, and black and white tattoos being inked.
For Rachel Smith, the festival was the chance for her to get a tattoo she’d dreamed about for over a decade.
Rachel said she was excited when she heard half-Finnish-half-French tattooist Iris Lys from the United Kingdom was one of the guest artists at this year’s event.
“I just love her style and have waited ten years to get a tattoo from her. She’s great at bold lines and bright colors. It’s my favorite tattoo style. I got a cat tattoo, which is something she specializes in.”
It was Iris’s first time at the tattoo festival.
“I’ve never been to New Zealand before. It’s great to visit the country while doing something I love.”
She said Taranaki is a special place.
“I love it, and I’ll be sad when I leave. It’s been such a cool experience to get tattooed here.”
It was also the first time tattoo artist Elvia Guardian was at the festival. Elvia traveled from Mexico to attend.
“This weekend has been great. I’ve been tattooing at conventions for 13 years. I love attending them.”
Elvia said she enjoyed Taranaki but was surprised about the weather changes.
“The weather here changes so quickly. It goes from sunshine to rain so quickly.”
For New Plymouth artist Bonnie O’Brien, the tattoo festival is her favorite time of the year.
“I love being here. It’s a lot of work and months of preparation, but I love it.”
Laura Jennings said Bonnie was the perfect artist to tattoo her lower leg.
“I’ve got a couple, but this is the biggest. I think her style of tattooing, especially the fine line floral pieces, are beautiful.”
While plenty of people got tattooed, some went to the show to remove one, with a chance to win a tattoo removal voucher in the Sacred Laser No Regrets – Tattoo Fail Championship, drawing plenty of entries.
The winner was Anastasia Storie-Cole, who won a $2000 Sacred Laser voucher. She said she looks forward to removing her hand tattoo.
She said it wasn’t just the R18 content of the tattoo but the placement that made it embarrassing when introducing herself to people.
“I didn’t think I was going to win. I’m super happy to be able to get rid of it. It gets a bit awkward when I go to shake people’s hands.”
Organiser Brent Taylor said a massive crowd attended the festival this year.
“The weekend was great. All of the artists had a perfect time.”
He says the FMX and BMX shows, stuntwork from Kozo Kaos, and live music were always great additions to the festival.
“There was a great vibe with Summer Thieves and the other bands and DJs. Unfortunately, due to the wind, we could only have FMX displays on Sunday, but the Franklin Farm Big Air BMX team entertained the crowd both days.”