Most are surprised that what they let go by so unregarded and unenjoyed was precisely their life, it was that in expectation of which they lived.
Published July 25th 2011
Tattoos are as much a part of today's society as a meat pie and iced coffee is to a bricklayer's smoko. Although our thirst for ink has somewhat changed over generations, it has provided some serious art in what is now a pretty serious business. And forget the negativity that media enjoys throwing up every now and then on the industry, if you look hard enough you can find some artists out there who are soul tattooists, questing for the experience and passing it on.
Meet Marc Pinto of Primitive Tattooing. I first heard about Marc about six years ago when I visited a tattoo convention outside Amsterdam. Marc's reputation on the floor in this cheese loving clog wearing nation had already been made aware to me, and I was keen to see his work.
Primitive Tattoo is Marc's sanctuary. It has been on this corner in the CBD in Perth for about as long as Alf Stewart has been on Home and Away and it has stood here past the days when workers in this region of the city required a police escort to get to their cars after dark.
Marc gained his inspiration in tattooing over 20 years ago when hanging around a mate's ink shop in Singapore.
"I never intended to get into tattoos" Marc says, "it just sort of happened. The personal friendship of my mate's shop in Singapore was struck out of loyalty in those days, it was a family, not a job and therefore you needed to get accepted."
From there Marc sought inspiration and embarked on travelling. His journeys took him from Singapore to Malaysia, and to the jungles of Borneo where he studied the complex task of Japanese hand tattooing, at the same time finding himself along the way.
"Travel has always been an inspirational part of my life" he says "I like to blend in to the local community and experience what the locals are doing, travel for me is not about five star hotels and luxury, I like to keep it simple and rough it along the way."
And you can see this when you meet him. If Marc were any more laid back he would be permanently horizontal. Marc's philosophy is to hunt the chicken, stalk the chicken and kill it, appreciating the whole experience. I personally prefer Woolworths and glad wrap, but seen as I have come in for a tattoo I find myself suddenly appreciating the hunted chook method.
I have come to get some Japanese hand tattooing, and as always with Marc, I just leave it up to him. It isn't that I don't care what is being inked on me, I really do, however Marc is an artist, and a fine one at that and I trust his judgement 100%, (even if that does mean chicken for lunch.)
I am under no illusions some of this will hurt. But it is pain worth having if this is what one desires. When I arrive, the shop is busy with suits and the likes flicking through artistic drawing books. A girl with a rather large tribal thigh piece is booking in for another three-hour session. The reception area of the shop is street level and is blanketed in pictures of John Butler, Jessica Mauboy and the likes, however the real work is done downstairs in the basement. The humming drone of tattoo guns is constantly buzzing in my ears as I lay back on the black leather chair. Large primal facemasks haunt my vision as I attempt to focus watching MMA on a colour TV that hangs precariously on the wall above. Rough picture sketches, totem poles and tattooed skateboards scatter the room. It all adds to the experience at Primitive Tattoo.
The hand tattoo mechanism is a piece of bamboo stick. Attached to this is around a dozen needles. They are placed with rope twine which is then dipped into an awaiting ink cartridge. I am booked in for three hours work which involves a fair bit of colour and shading on my forearm. Time seems to go quick. Conversing with Marc seems to keep me at peace particularly as he tells me he has tattooed the actors who play Captain Feathersword and Dorothy the Dinosaur. And just as I am getting used to the work my time is up. Primitive tattooing and Body Piercing is open every day. It serves as a showpiece that not all tattoo places have to be stereotyped. And if it isn't ink you are after, why not try branding with a hot press iron, body piercing or bead implanting to jazz it up a bit?