Tattoo Festival Offers Up Chance to Reverse Regrets


In a surprising twist at the New Zealand Tattoo and Art Festival in New Plymouth, a laser treatment worth thousands of dollars steals the spotlight at the “tattoo fail” competition. Festival organizer Brent Taylor reveals that this unique contest has gained tremendous popularity in its second run, highlighting a severe aspect behind the seemingly lighthearted event.

The New Zealand Tattoo and Art Festival, hosted at the TSB Stadium in New Plymouth, introduces an unconventional yet intriguing segment – the “tattoo fail” competition. Offering a laser treatment worth thousands of dollars as the grand prize, this event takes a unique approach to celebrate the art of tattooing while addressing the challenges faced by those with less-than-desirable ink.

Brent Taylor, the festival organizer, sheds light on the competition’s underlying significance. Contrary to conventional tattoo contests, where professionally executed designs often take center stage, the “tattoo fail” competition embraces imperfections. Taylor notes, “Generally, it’s not a tattoo done in a shop or professionally that’s going to win – it is a home job or a very poorly executed tattoo. It could be life-changing for someone to get that removed when they can’t afford it.”

Spearheading this unique endeavor is Sacred Laser, which generously offers a prize that could substantially alleviate the burden of living with a regrettable tattoo. Taylor emphasizes the potential impact, stating, “$2000 would probably remove – mostly remove or fully remove – a terrible tattoo.” Last year’s winner experienced a transformative moment, overwhelmed with emotion at the prospect of bidding farewell to a tattoo she deemed a “horrible monstrosity.”

Brent Taylor.

Taylor anticipates an increased turnout for this year’s competition. Despite the unconventional theme, he emphasizes the fun and non-judgmental atmosphere created by the event’s Master of Ceremonies. The “tattoo fail” competition becomes a platform for individuals to share their tattoo mishaps, creating an environment of camaraderie and laughter.

Reflecting on his experiences in the tattoo industry, Taylor recalls encountering various tattoo blunders. From grammatical fails resembling Energy Online’s infamous ‘No Regrets’ advertisement to poorly executed home jobs done under questionable circumstances, the spectrum of tattoo mishaps is diverse.

He acknowledges witnessing instances of foreign language or script tattoos gone awry, where the intended profound message transforms into unintentional humor. “Yeah, you get a bit of that – a stitch-up where you think it means ‘strength’ or something, and it means ‘dog’ or ‘cat’ or whatever. A bit of that has happened in the past, but not so much now because people aren’t getting those tattoos. But definitely in the past, that was a thing.”

While Taylor has no tattoos he regrets, he acknowledges the evolving nature of tattoo choices. “Nah, I haven’t regretted any. I’ve made fairly good decisions. The odd one’s been covered if it didn’t work with what was planned.”

For those seeking a more conventional tattoo experience, the festival boasts over 250 tattooists worldwide, ensuring a diverse and top-quality range of artistic expression. Accompanied by musicians, BMX riders, and street entertainers, the New Zealand Tattoo and Art Festival remains a dynamic celebration of tattoo culture, now in its 11th year.

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