Creating art on a human canvas is all in a day's work for a Port Macquarie tattoo artist

“These days people who have tattoos are a walking canvas, they are showing works of art.”

One of the biggest misconceptions about tattoo artists and tattoo shops is that they are still dark, unsanitary places where thugs hang out. But these days walking into a tattoo shops is similar to walking into a modern art gallery; bright, clean and with works of art hanging on the wall.

Local tattoo artist Nick Scott says when most people come to see him at Seaside Tattoos on Horton Street, they are surprised at how open and light the shop is and how ‘normal’ tattoo artists are.

“I got my first tattoo at 18 years old and have only been getting more since then,” Mr Scott said.

One of the pieces Mr Scott is particuarly proud of.

One of the pieces Mr Scott is particuarly proud of.

“I do think people have ideas in their heads about what coming into a tattoo shop for the first time will be like, but I think that once they get in the door their perceptions change.

“These days people who have tattoos aren’t in a gang or a thug, they are normal people who get art put onto their bodies rather than hanging it on a wall at home, and that can be very empowering.”

Mr Scott, a self taught tattoo artist, said drawing is in his blood, and even after a full day at the office, comes home to draw in his down time.

“I have been drawing since I was four or five, but growing up I was always told that tattooing wasn’t a proper job so I went into the building industry,” he said.

“But after a while I realised that I didn't like what I was doing and decided to go after something I was passionate about and have not regretted that decision at all because six years later I still love it.”

He said the process to get a tattoo is more than just coming in and picking from a book of predesigned pieces.

“We custom draw every piece of art we tattoo, so I will draw it on my iPad or by hand before it becomes a stencil and gets transferred onto the skin,” he said.

“Some people think that they can just come in and pick something from a book or they might say ‘just go for it’, but for us it isn’t like that.

“Very few people actually mean just go for it so I really try and understand what they want before we start.”

As a tattoo artist, Mr Scott said that during the process he tends to forge connections with people.

“While I tattoo someone we can hear the craziest of stories and depending on the tattoo it can be quite empowering,” he said.

“It can be a special or sad time for people, and we as the artists get to hear the stories behind some of the most sentimental pieces for people.

“I would never tattoo hate speech on someone or do anything illegal.

“The tattoos that I find the most challenging is when someone wants to get a person’s face tattooed on their body because we usually are working off a photo.”

Another masterpiece from Mr Scott.

Another masterpiece from Mr Scott.

He said the tattoo industry is changing quite dramatically and the use of online tools such as Instagram has really transformed how people see tattoos and research artists.

“All our business is done online and using Instagram means that people all over the world can see your work which is fantastic.

“Social media has made the sharing of new techniques and ideas easy and has been really great for the industry.”