Tattooing is a practice that has existed since the dawn of bronze age, and that's just what we have solid evidence for; it was likely around for many years prior during the copper age, too. We know this thanks to the discovery of Ötzi the Iceman - the natural mummy of a man who lived between 3350 and 3105 BCE. Ötzi's remains were discovered in 1991 in the Ötztal Alps, at the border between Austria and Italy. The discovery of Ötzi was a huge deal for archaeologists at the time, but the most exciting part of the discovery for the layman in the years since has been the reveal that he sported a whopping 61 tattoos!
It's been a long, long time since Ötzi got his first tattoos, and since then the artform has spread far and wide. Did you know that 43% of Australians have a tattoo*? Gone are the days of tats being reserved for ice mummies, sailors, gang members and criminals - these days everyone seems to have them. Mums, lawyers, doctors, priests, grandparents and young folk alike all sport ink.
Everyone has a different reason for getting tattooed - some love it purely for the artistry and joy of being a living canvas, some use it as a form of therapy or even gender affirming care, some use tattoos to memorialise loved ones or connect with their heritage, and some just get tattoos they think are funny or make them happy. Whatever the reason, this permanent artform can allow people to feel more at home in their own skin and show off the things that are important to them.
One look at our current Mayor Matty Garwood will tell anyone that tattoos are more socially and professionally acceptable than ever; and in the distant past of 2021, even former Premier Peter Gutwein was revealed to have gone under the needle as he received another, less fun needle for the COVID-19 vaccine. With current Premier Jeremy Rockliff also recently getting his first tattoo quite publicly, there's no doubt about it - Tassie loves tattoos.
*Statistic taken from a 2022 article. Find it here.
But unless you want to get tattooed by a specific artist, there's no need for a trip to Hobart or Melbourne to find quality work - Launceston is home to many fantastic tattoo studios, staffed by passionate and incredibly talented artists.
Emporia Tattoo is the most recent addition to our roster of studios - they're a female owned and operated business, with a focus on making the tattoo experience less intimidating for anyone who may be apprehensive.
When we asked Emporia for some background on their business, one of the co-owners said - "The vision we have for Emporia is to create a relaxed and welcoming studio. We’re operating a private space, which means we take bookings via pre-booked appointments only. By doing this, we wish to create a more peaceful and quiet atmosphere for our clients. We’re also very passionate about creating a space that is welcoming to everyone; walking in to a tattoo studio can be an intimating experience and we want to do our best to put our clients minds at ease. Our space is also very open and bright, we have a lot of natural light and want to utilise this to create a comfortable atmosphere."
Co-owners Samantha and Laura are both very passionate about tattooing, and love empowering people to feel comfortable in being themselves through the art on their body. They like to build a relationship with their clients, which helps them to create art that is unique to their client and their vision.
They're also both very passionate about female empowerment in a mostly male dominated industry, and are excited about the industry becoming more inclusive. The name ‘Emporia’ comes from the birth place of the first female tattoo artist in recorded history, Maud Wagner. A portrait of her hangs in the reception area to watch over their work and guide the way.
Samantha specialises in fine line, soft black and grey work, with a love for botanicals. Laura’s work has a more traditional twist to it; she works with both fine lines and bolder lines, in black and grey or colour.
Emporia Tattoo is more than just female forward - it's a safe space that the owners hope will be embraced by anyone who has been anxious about getting a tattoo due to insecurities about their bodies, or who has been nervous to even walk into a typical tattoo studio. It can be an intimidating experience, and little touches to their studio like the tasteful décor, plentiful natural light, and the warm smiles that greet you all contribute to making the space feel welcoming. After all - tattoos, like art itself, are for everyone.
Samantha and Laura are also keen to give back to the community. In November Emporia Tattoo will run a Flash Day where clients will be encouraged to bring in donations of menstrual hygiene products to be donated to Share the Dignity, a charity that helps people experiencing period poverty. For more info on that, keep an eye on their social media profiles (which can be found linked here) and our What's on page.
Emporia may be the new kid on the block, but Launnie is home to plenty of other tattoo shops that many locals swear by. Read on for some of our top picks!
Takumi Tattoo is known locally for the distinctive Japanese style used by owner and primary artist, Beau Maslen. Bold colours, clean black lines, iconography from Japanese folklore and a keen eye for composition make this studio a favourite for lovers of the tattoos famously donned by Samurai and the Yakuza.
Of Kings & Gods has a very dedicated client base for a reason - they staff a variety of artists specialising in different styles, all of whom are very skilled in their craft. Whether you're after a memorial piece, Celtic knotwork, Viking iconography, traditional Americana style or realism; Of Kings & Gods probably has an artist who can do it, and do it very well.
Inkorporated is another tattoo studio that staffs a variety of artists specialising in different areas. They also frequently train apprentices, meaning discounted flash art is often available. Centrally located on St John Street, this studio is a favourite for first timers.
Owned and operated by passionate tattoo artist Shazz (who has 35 years of tattooing experience), Tattoo Parlour is the perfect place to go if you're after a tattoo with a gothic twist. That doesn't mean that's the only style they offer, though! Shazz, and additional artist Grace, are well versed in realism, animals, watercolour, touch-ups and more.
The Tattoo Society is a shop that offers tattoos in American traditional, fine line black and grey, and pop culture/anime full colour styles, as well as many others. They pride themselves on inclusivity and making sure everyone who comes through their door feels welcome.