When you launch a successful skin-art festival you just have to walk the talk - or so it seems with Hamilton event founder Chris Preece.
Two weeks ahead of the 2014 International Tattoo and Art Expo at Claudelands, Preece put on a brave face and bared his chest for two professional skin artists - Skinks Tattoo Lounge owner Euan Satherley and co-worker Filipe Raputti.
A Hamilton special needs teacher and body-art enthusiast, Mr Preece is the driving force behind next weekend's fourth annual Hamilton International Tattoo and Art Expo.
Preece said interest in the expo, which will feature skin artists from Australia, the US and Europe, was going from strength to strength.
"Hits on our social media site have gone from about 20,000 a year to about 350,000. I don't know exactly what the hell is going on but it's cool for its [the expo's] presence in New Zealand."
Of special interest this year is Australian Brendan Russell, who specialises in scarification, branding, etching and cutting - the next big things in the world of body art.
"We will also see the return of Dr Rev, a huge hit in 2012 expo, with his incredibly intricate artworks painted in his own blood.
"It's not often you can get up close and personal with the best local and international talent under one roof. A lot of the tattoo artists exhibiting are booked out for months in advance, so it's an opportunity to get inked by some of the world's best."
As well as tattoo artists from all around the world, including the very best New Zealand tattoo talent, also present will be world champion Kiwi body painter Yolanda from Body FX, cosmetic tattoo artist Lusi of White Rabbit Ink, aerial silk contortionist (and Miss Tattoo NZ) Cassie Law and burlesque performer Ruby Ruin.
Other attractions this year include a classic car show, skate competition and performances by comedian Jared Fell.
But even if you're not keen on permanent ink, the expo is an amazing place to get a glimpse of all that is happening in street culture, Preece said.
"It's not just about the incredible tattoo art. We have amazing street artists, a car show, competitions, comedy shows and burlesque performances, along with great live music all weekend."
Funds raised from collection boxes at the expo will go to True Colours. The 2014 International Tattoo and Art Expo will take place in the Claudelands Events Centre, Hamilton, Saturday, February 15, 11am till 10pm and Sunday February 16, 11am till 9pm.
- Waikato Times
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