Look around and you will see more and more people with tattoos adorning their bodies. As tattoos have become more an more commonplace inn society so to has the appreciation for the true art form that it is. This appreciation as an art is being taken to another level currently thanks to an art exhibition adorning the walls of The Galeries in Sydney’s CBD.
The Tattooed: It’s An Art exhibition is a photography exhibition created by world renowned photographer Jesse Lizotte which explores the art of tattooing whilst also bringing the artists behind the work to the fore. Featuring Sydney tattoo artists Demi Iacopetta, Shaun Daniel Allen and Pheazy, the exhibition takes a unique, authentic, and uninhibited look behind the work of some of Sydney’s best and shines a light on a contemporary take on a traditional and ancient art form.
City Hub recently spoke with Demi & Pheazy about their views on the tattoos & tattooing, why they wanted to participate in this exhibition & the current trends they are seeing.
In regards to how they each found their way into tattoo both Demi & Pheazy first had passions for more traditional art.
“When I was a kid in around year 8-9 I would always be drawing on my arm or my classmates arms,” recalled Pheazy. “From this people would ask me ‘have you ever thought about tattooing as a career?’ So I always had those comments in the back of my head & finally did something with it after finishing high school.”
Demi then told us how she came to be fall in love with tattoos as art form, “I’ve always painted & drawn since I was really young. I left school early & continued to study art but then took a year off from studying & ended up in a tattoo shop with my portfolio of paintings. I fell in love with the art form while I was an apprentice because I had never really thought so deeply about the idea of tattooing as an art form until I was an apprentice.”
Having developed such a passion for the art form both Demi & Pheazy we’re both very keen to participate in Tattooed: It’s An Art. Firstly because the exhibition is placing the art at the fore but also because of who was curating the exhibition. For Pheazy it was particularly exciting to hear that “another amazing artist from a different field” was taking the photos. According to Demi it was learning that Jesse was taking the photos which pushed her over the edge to participate, “I don’t know if I would have agreed to doing it if Jesse wasn’t taking the photos.”
Moving on to the changing public perception of tattoos Demi feels exhibitions like this one will help “gentrify” the art form and make it much more acceptable or trendy. Although as Pheazy was quick to add there are still some perceptions that will be harder to shake.
“Although it’s changing I think tattoo still has certain qualities that resonate with people. For example, If I see someone with a face tattoo it’s more intimidating than someone without one.”
With these changing perceptions both artists have seen similar trends developing in terms of the style of tattoo that is becoming more popular.
“I think tattoos are become more simple,” said Pheazy. “Now you’ll see tattoos which are predominantly just black shapes or fine lines… There’s also a lot more realism now too. A few years ago if you could do realism you’d be one the best tattooists in the world but it’s more common now.”
Perhaps the biggest challenge both artists have faced over the past couple of years though has been something we can all empathise with, lockdowns and COVID restrictions. Obviously with the restriction in place tattooist could work, which meant their income was completely wiped out. However, this wasn’t the only challenge. Losing their creative also incredibly difficult.
“The restrictions been so hard, I’ve really struggled,” said Demi. “We had 8 months not tattooing, which is a huge strain on me as an artist because I didn’t have an outlet to express myself.”
Pheazy you then added, “During the lockdowns & restrictions it felt like we had to transition back from being tattoo artists to focus on our fundamentals of art. It was good to revisit that artist side but financially it was really difficult.”
Now that restrictions have lifted on the tattoo industry new challenges have now arisen, namely burnout as they catch upon delayed bookings.
“Once the restrictions eased I had a backlog of people who had missed out on tattoos,” explained Demi. “That gave me a five month waiting list of bookings to work though on top of new people wanting to get tattooed. Everyone has been so busy & burnt out since restrictions eased. So the burnout has been happening pretty fast.”
All of these challenges won’t deter Pheazy or Demi though because their passion for the art form is a strong as ever & has only be heightened thanks to their participation in Tattooed: It’s An Art.
Tattooed: It’s An Art will be on show at The Galeries until March 31.