Tattooists converge on New Plymouth

By -
File photo / APN
File photo / APN

With needles and ink primed, some of the world's best tattooists will converge on New Plymouth this weekend for an international convention.

Among them is 19-year-old Casey Petersen - an apprentice tattooist who is not scared of pain, or inflicting it on others.

"It depends how many nerve endings there are - it's a different pain for different parts of the body.

"Everyone feels it differently - it's a pain you can't really equate with anything else," she says.

Ms Petersen is an "accidental" apprentice tattooist with Napier company Spacifik Ink, falling into the job after her mother showed boss Dwain Aiono her book of doodling.

"I didn't do art at school - I was always doodling.

"I spent more time drawing on myself than doing any work.

"I often thought of doing tattooing but nobody thought I had artistic capabilities except my parents," she says.

Ms Petersen will be attending her first tattoo convention this weekend in New Plymouth - the New Zealand Tattoo and Art Festival - where more than 200 artists from all over the world will converge.

Ms Petersen will be amongst some "mega famous" tattooists offering their ink art to the public.

"All the tattoo community come for it.

"My idol will be here from Brisbane - she is one of the people I follow."

Ms Petersen gets her inspiration from the 1950s, preferring the traditional "old school" style of tattoos.

"It's such a beautiful era.

"The '50s suits every kind of woman - it was a free era where everyone could be expressive.

"I had a lady close to her 70s with two traditional swallows on her back."

Ms Petersen says a lot of women used to have tattoos but they were hidden.

"It's becoming much more accepted for women, but some people still frown upon it - it's a way to express yourself."

Ms Petersen is also a fan of steampunk, a sub-genre of science fiction that mixes the Victorian era with sci-fi.

Her love of owls fits in with this newly popular style.

"I love owls - I collect them. The steampunk ties into the owl thing."

She says butterflies are still a common choice for women, but script is becoming very popular.

And Ms Petersen is walking the talk, having several quotes tattooed on her body.

"I like to personally decorate my body with words of inspiration.

"It makes me happy to put art on my skin."

Ms Petersen, whose goal is to travel the world and eventually own her own studio, says she can never stop learning and is keen on having multiple artists tattoo her body to get the different styles. She is looking forward to meeting other people in the industry at the convention.

"I want to see how other artists work and to reassure myself that I'm doing the right thing."

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