Tattoos a popular design for life
Tattoos have gone from being the regrets of gang members, rock stars and criminals to a commonly accepted form of body modification, nearly up there with ear and nose piercings.
Marc Wymer, from Hamilton's Custom Collective, said tattoos are, and probably always would be, "huge".
"I like to think it's getting more popular, there's definitely a lot of interest here in Hamilton. It just seems to be one of those feel-good things that people do for themselves, even through the recession people were still getting tattooed," he said.
"It's not just people getting the old school anchor here, and ‘Mum' there, it's everything from that to the Sistene Chapel to the Pope."
And if last year's 8000-strong turnout to the International Tattoo and Art Expo is anything to go by, he could be right.
Organiser Chris Preece said they were hoping to ramp it up to 10,000 this year, noticing more of a buzz and social media "going berserk" in anticipation.
"New Zealand's the most tattooed nation per capita in the world. We're pretty liberal these days. I mean, one in five New Zealanders are tattooed and I think a lot of that is up to our ta moko and traditional tattoo culture," he said.
A claim seconded by travel bible, Lonely Planet, whose Best in Travel 2013 list named New Zealand the second best place in the world to get tattooed after Wat Bang Phra, Thailand.
Tickets for the expo at Claudelands Event Centre - on February 23 and 24 - are available at the gates. For more, see tattooart.co.nz