Sunday’s Rites of Passage at Sydney Showground contained all the staples of a tattoo expo:
exceptional local and international talent, death defying stunts, blaring rock and metal, and a sea of
inked patrons. Yet this was only the surface, beneath that you will find a well-knit community built
on the principle of unity.
As I walked throughout Rites of Passage, it was amazing to see the diversity of people who were in
attendance. You had your ‘typical’ tattooed to the teeth enthusiast right through to clean canvases
ready to begin their journey. The beauty of this mix was how harmoniously they melded together,
tattooing may have a negative stigma attached to it but events like this showcase how wrong that is.
Throughout the day there was a consent buzzing about as artists pushed through appointment after
appointment, leaving some to turn away flash tat requests within the early hours of the event. Tats
are hot right now and this was certainly the place to get a feel for what you like.
Around midday, the boys from The Freestyle Kings took to the stage to show off their phenomenal
riding skills. Watching them soar off a ramp and pull of a killer whip, backflip or other stunts was
nerve-racking for many who were watching from below. I don’t know what compels someone to
pursue such an extreme endeavour but seeing it in action is one of the coolest spectacles.
Each booth represented a different pocket of the tattooing world. Whether it be photo-realistic
tattooing to more conceptual designs, the wealth of options came as both a blessing and a curse. As
someone who is also starting out his journey, I constantly came to an internal struggle, trying to
figure out how all these different pieces would work on my own body. The moment I began to set
my mind on one design, I walk past an artist completing an absolute masterpiece on someone else
and thought, why wasn’t that me?
Near the very end of the day, it was time for the tattoo competition to commence, seeking out the
very best of the show. Judging by what I saw during the day, this was bound to be tough to decide.
So many artist put their all in each piece they did, it’s almost brutal to pin them against one another
to determine who crafted the finest piece.
For those of you who would like to know who the winner was, I apologize. During the competition I
had the golden opportunity to pick up this little gem and with it, new sights on the next piece.
Photo : Matt Bartolo
Tattoo: Raphael Vallejos
All in all if you walked into Rites of Passage just to come to a tattoo expo then all you saw was a
tattoo expo. But if you immersed yourself in the experience, you would see the true weight of the
gathering. For tattooing isn’t just a career, hobby or cool thing to get done; for many it’s a form of
expressionism, art and ultimately life. You’d be hard pressed to find a collection of genuine people
whose love for what they do, flows out of them and into their work and the people around them.
Regardless of what pain people endured throughout the day, there wasn’t a dull expression on any
of the faces I saw. The true take-away from this was the ability people had to come together,
participate in what they love and take with them a lasting memento.
You can find more of Scott's work here : FACEBOOK // TWITTER
Mr Rogue's Final Thoughts
Well, another year down for Rites of Passage Sydney, and arguably the biggest and best one yet.
The artwork that was on show this weekend was second to none.
And the artists....Khan Tattoo, Nikko Hurtado, Tater Tatts, Nate Tambiah, Sini Ariell, Jack Fowler, Heath Crowe, Chris "Showstopper" Mata'afa, Joel Speelman....THE best local and international artists that has been under one roof in Australia yet. Kudos to the event organizers. You have surpassed yourselves yet again.
Being immersed in the sounds of non stop buzzing of tattoo machines for the past three days had me champing at the bit to get my first piece of ink, but being "on the job" for all 36 hours of the festival left little time for self indulgence. If anything, I have narrowed it down to a select few artists to leave their mark permanently on my body. Maybe next year.
All photography taken by & © Copyright of Matt Bartolo // Mattvayne Photography, Mick Goddard // Mick G Photography & Reece Goodard / Reece Goddard Photography, exclusively for Rogue Inc.
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