Nelson artist wins tattoo award
“Kiwi Matt” Lloyd says friends in America often joke that back home, his name is “Just Matt”.
Certainly, the Nelson-born tattooist is much more visible overseas than in New Zealand right now, having scored an award at the prestigious Seattle Tattoo Expo for “Best Backpiece” last weekend.
“Just to be in the United States now and be working with people on this level is definitely an achievement,” he said, attributing his success to “a ton of hard work”.
Now based in Seattle, Mr Lloyd was proud of the winning tattoo, particularly as it happened to be on his wife, Tarra.
“I think with it being on her, I just wanted to do something a little different.”
He said the piece stood out to judges as it combined two different styles, juxtaposing an “old school” snake outlined in black with delicate pink and orange peonies on a background of swirling Japanese-influenced smoke.
Mrs Lloyd had requested the snake and flowers, but left the details and layout up to her husband, who drew the entire design by hand.
He said the tattoo had been an ongoing project completed in twice-weekly three-hour stints, so by the time it was finished, Mrs Lloyd had been living with it for about three months. He estimated the entire process took about 35 hours.
“She said, ‘Thank God!' when it was done.”
Although the backpiece was finished 18 months ago, Mr Lloyd was now working on extending the work down across her buttocks and hamstrings.
He had attended last weekend's tattoo expo as part of a group sent by his studio, Slave to the Needle, which he described as one of the top 10 most famous studios in the world.
“The celebration drinks with [owner] Aaron Bell was almost better than the win,” he said. “He's like one of my childhood heroes.”
The expo was a chance to get more visibility by working in a public arena, said Mr Lloyd, who completed three tattoos on-site at the expo.
One of these was for an American woman who sought him out to create a Kiwi design for her, memorialising a close friend from New Zealand who had been killed as a result of domestic abuse.
Mr Lloyd said he planned to attend the New Zealand Tattoo and Art Festival in New Plymouth in November, where he would launch a book showcasing his work.
Published by American firm Alla Prima, the 100-page book is full of photographs of the tattoos Mr Lloyd completed during his time travelling around the United States.
“It's generally a book that other artists would buy for the collectability,” he said, noting it could also be used for reference. He thought it was likely to be called Kiwi Matt on the Road.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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