Was The Perth Tattoo Expo “A Total Rip-Off”?

With the Perth Tattoo Expo over for yet another year, the countdown has now begun for both Sydney and Melbourne. Sydney will host Rites of Passage Tattoo Festival which was once exclusively Melbourne event, and Melbourne ends the year with the Melbourne Tattoo Expo.

The days following the Perth event meant there was an influx of images posted on the Australian Tattoo Expo Facebook page. With that came hundreds of comments, some positive and some negative. And it’s these negative comments that I want to address.


Australian Tattoo Expo - Perth 2017


I don’t know if these people all knew one another, however there were comments made by several individuals that the Perth Tattoo was “a total rip-off”. When I pressed one individual as to the reason why they were unhappy they responded that they saw everything there in around 30 minutes, but also said that the expo  “… was great if you wanted to get a tattoo”. This comment really sums up what tattoo expos are about, and it came from the same person complaining about the Perth Expo.

I wasn’t in attendance at the Perth Tattoo Expo, however I have been to both the Rites of Passage Tattoo Festival and the Melbourne Tattoo Expo. I know what tattoo expos are like. I got tattooed at each expo I attended which is probably why I enjoyed my time there, despite the pain.


Jackson May – Winner of Best Sleeve (leg or arm)

What were these people – who were so disappointed – expecting, if not a place for people to get tattooed? They weren’t deceived; what they paid for is exactly what they got. The price of entry allowed them access to the exhibition center where the event took place, on all three days like planned. There were hundreds of artists to observe, to buy art from, or to receive a tattoo from. There were vendors selling various goods and there was entertainment ranging from a Pin-Up Pageant, The Fuel Girls, and tattoo judging.

Yes, if you go to a tattoo expo with no intention of getting tattooed, and you don’t want plan on sticking around for the entertainment or to watch tattooers work their magic, then you most likely will feel bored. Those people who vented their frustration on Facebook may feel that they’ve wasted their money, but this is not the fault of the event organisers and it is wrong to claim on their social media pages that the event was “a rip off”.


@tetamaria performing with The Fuel Girls

1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners from the @auspinuppageant

Before taking to social media to make unjustified remarks, these individuals should have taken a few minutes out of their day to have a read through the Australian Tattoo Expo website. Maybe then they would have thought twice about attending and consequently spreading lies and negativity. So, what exactly was there to do and see at the 2017 Perth Tattoo Expo?

  • There were at least 15 retailers, stocking the likes of hats and clothing, tattoo aftercare products, and sugar skulls – you could even get a body piercing.
  • The tattoo competitions took place daily, in the evening so that artists could submit the tattoos they completed at the expo.
  • There were performances scheduled for the main stage throughout the day.
  • The third round of the inaugural Australian Tattoo Series competition took place.

It’s a tattoo expo which means the focus will always be on people getting tattooed, and the other forms of entertainment are but the cherry on top of an exciting and artistic event.

Journeys Apparel – One of the many vendors

Free photo booth

Any tattoo expo in Australia is simply an opportunity to see artists working and their creative process, and a chance to discover new artists or tattoo styles. The most exciting element is the opportunity to get tattooed by a favourite tattooer who comes from another state or even another country, with little expense to yourself – think how much you’ve saved on flights and accommodation.

I’ll admit that this year’s Perth show wasn’t as international as the NZ Tattoo & Art Festival, or even the Sydney or Melbourne events, but that didn’t stop people from claiming otherwise. One of the same individuals (that inspired this post) decided to state so matter-of-factly that the event was full of “Balinese or Thai tattooers” – as if that is some kind of issue or insult. Of the 200+ artists in attendance, a couple of artists flew in from New Zealand, the USA and Singapore, while Balinese artists accounted for a little over 10% of that number.

Australians made up more than 75% of the tattooers in attendance, so yet another bogus claim with zero facts to back it up. This kind of thing is a reminder not to believe everything you read on Facebook. Furthermore, for those curious, the artist lineup which details the artist, their style, their tattoo shop and their home city/state/country is always available online for weeks prior to the event.


Khail Aitken – Winner of Best Multi-Day tattoo

Tattoo expos aren’t like other exhibitions – while there are various performances across the weekend, the heart of it all is people getting tattooed. For those disgruntled Facebook commenters, I believe no matter what I said, I think they’ll remain puzzled about the purpose of tattoo expos. For the rest of you, I hope you now understand what you’ll expect at a tattoo expo near you.

Check these events out if you live in Sydney or Melbourne. And, grab some inspiration for your next piece from the hundreds of tattoo-themed posts here on this website, from my work for either Tattoodo or Inked Australia, or my own articles.


Rites of Passage Tattoo Festival - Sydney 2017

Australian Tattoo Expo - Melbourne 2017



All images sourced from the Australian Tattoo Expo Facebook page.