Didn’t think before you inked? Got stunned by the gun? Went for art and wound up with a shart? Well, good news champion, the Australian Tattoo Expo is looking for people just like you. When the iconic festival of body arts rolls into Sydney on Friday 10 March, event organisers won’t simply be plugging the talented works of the nation’s top artists, they’ll also be on the hunt for the misfires as part of its official ‘Shittiest Tattoo Competition’. Turns out even the shittest of clouds has a silver lining.
Held annually, the Australian Tattoo Expo officially kicks off on March 10, running for three full days until Sunday 12 March at the ICC Sydney in Darling Harbour. This year, there will be no shortage of stellar performers on hand to shell out tough stickers, share stories and give remarkable insights into the ever-growing domestic tattoo scene. Heralded as the largest tattoo gathering in the Southern Hemisphere, the expo provides event-goers with an exclusive lineup of artists and entertainment, headlined in 2023 by celebrity artist Ami James.
The Israeli-American tattoo legend is best known for his work on the TLC reality show Miami Ink (where Kat Von D got here start) and the subsequent Paramount competition series Ink Master, however, he won’t be alone. James will be joined by up to 400 of the most revered and talented tattoo artists from across the globe, each eager to strut their stuff on the Sydney stage. And for good reason.
The 2023 instalment of the Australian Tattoo Expo will launch the CTAA (Competitive Tattooing Association Australia) Australian Tattoo Series competition. A new initiative, this event will see a whopping AUD$60,000 cash prize up for grabs for competing artists with AUD$30,000 offered to the winner of the Best Solo Artist title, AUD$20,000 for the Best Collaboration and AUD$10,000 for the People’s Choice award. According to Australian Exhibition Group CEO and founder, Kevin Mack, the Australian Tattoo Expo, now in its 12th year, will usher in over 57,000 visitors across the weekend, making it a proverbial playground for tattoo lovers.
“We’re pleased to present a range of talented artists and expect larger numbers than we’ve ever seen in attendance,” Mack said. “The Tattoo Expo is not only a place for the community to gather, but it introduces newcomers to the world of body art and modification, offering a unique opportunity to get up and personal with some of the best artists in the world.”
However, while true artistry will be celebrated in all its glory, the 2023 Australian Tattoo Expo also offers a rare opportunity to take a gander at the industry’s worst. The Shittest Tattoo Competition will run Saturday and Sunday on the main stage, with the crowd judging who has the shittest tattoo. Winners will take home cash prizes/tattoo removal vouchers and funny trophies, alongside (presumably) a healthy dose of regret and shame. So, if you’ve managed to permanently scar yourself with sh*tty Simpson tatt, a disproportionate family tribute or just a poorly-ageing R Kelly lyric, now is your time to shine.
The Australian Tattoo Expo will run from Friday 10 March to Sunday 12 March at the ICC Sydney. Tickets start from AUD$45 for a single-day pass with options for concessions and children available. Happy shit tatt hunting.
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