Tiki time for Hollywood artist

NICOLA RUSSELL
Last updated 10:31 28/11/2010
tattoo
Photo: Grahame Cox
Dan Smith, star of US reality show LA Ink, may get a tattoo of Dick Frizzell's iconic tiki image, below.
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A Kiwi tattooist who has made his mark on Hollywood has returned home and may well leave with an iconic Kiwi image inked on him.

Dan Smith, star of Hollywood reality TV show LA Ink, is back in New Zealand for the NZ Tattoo and Art Festival, which is on today in New Plymouth.

And while he's here the 30-year-old is considering getting his tattoo tutor, Dean Parkins of Auckland's Sacred Tattoo, to ink an image by famous Kiwi artist Dick Frizzell on what remaining clean skin he has left.

"Dick Frizzell did this cool painting which we have up in our house called Mickey to Tiki Tu Meke.

"The final phase of the tiki is really cool, it's quite simple but it's definitely my style and I've been toying with getting that for a while," he said.

Smith, who has done three seasons of LA Ink which centres around life at Kat Von D's studio High Voltage Tattoo, said going to festivals was loads of fun.

"It's such a cool thing to be able to travel to a different city and know that you have friends there, hang out in their shop, check out a convention, stay another few days and be a tourist ... so to have New Zealand on the map for that is a huge thing for New Zealand tattooing."

Among Smith's long list of must-sees at the convention is Sabado from Japan, John Montgomery from California and Josh Roelink from Australia, along with Parkins – the Sacred tattooist who will always have a strong place in Smith's heart.

"It's a pretty great thing to know you will come back and be completely inspired by people you trained with," he said.

Smith said his humble Kiwi upbringing had stopped him letting his newfound Hollywood fame go to his head.

"I think on the show I'm just myself. I try to treat people really well and people respect that," he said. "I've had a lot of people message me `you seem like you are the right guy for me just because you are down to earth and nice'. It's amazing how far that does go." It has even opened doors for roles in other popular TV shows including a spot on crime series Dexter with his wife Skully.

"I am tattooing her in a shop detective Morgan and Masuka come into asking about a victim from a case with a tattoo ... super cool day. It aired about three weeks ago," he said.

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Meeting celebrities is all in a day's work for Smith.

"Not to sound all nonchalant, but there are always famous people coming through the shop, like the guitarist for Def Leppard. But to me it's just another person. I never had that stardom thing, I just go `oh he's in a band and I'm in a band'."

Smith's band, The Dear & Departed, recently toured America, Canada, the UK and Germany. Their final live gig was filmed for an LA Ink episode.

"It's a great opportunity for the band, great exposure that you pretty much couldn't get anywhere else," Smith said. As well as the band and the show, Smith is putting together a book on 55 "straight edge" tattoo artists – tattooists who don't drink or do drugs – from around the world.

He's also learning to paint from Kevin Llewellyn, who has produced work for Robin Williams and Madonna.

- Sunday News

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