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Globally acclaimed tattoo artist to open second Coast studio – The Sunshine Coast Daily

Posted in Tattooing on Aug 24, 2017

NOW rated one of the best tattoo artists in the world, Damien Wickham has come a long way since “tattooing” mates with Nikko pens at parties in the mid 1990s.

Fresh off the success of his own Ink Attack Tattoo Convention, held on the Sunshine Coast earlier this month, Mr Wickham is preparing to open his second tattoo studio in Eumundi in the coming weeks.

Sponsors have lined up over the years as his 56 first place prizes from tattoo conventions and shows across the globe turned this humble artist into a valuable and highly-sought after commodity.

From his Bokarina tattoo shop, Mr Wickham is getting himself prepared for conventions in Puerto Rico, Miami and New York in November, ahead of a prestigious event in Paris.

“I’m tattooing a brave young bloke as we speak,” he said.

“It’s a Patrick J Jones work, a medieval Conan the Barbarian type of fantasy piece.”

A talent for drawing is a skill Mr Wickham has possessed since a young age.

“When I was about 12 at Warwick West I won a Courier Mail drawing competition,” he said.

“I was always drawing, even when I was really little.

“My aunt tells a story that at two years old I used to run around and draw a two on people’s hands in lipstick.”

Mr Wickham left Warwick in the late 1990s to play rugby league for Norths in Brisbane and then Burleigh on the Gold Coast.

Following this he travelled to the United States as a rugby league ambassador, playing a season for the New Jersey Sharks.

On his return to Australia, he settled on the Sunshine Coast and set up a temporary fencing business.

“My dad had been a tattoo artist and one day he handed all of his gear over to me,” he said.

“So I started using it at home and did about five tattoos before I realised it wasn’t a professional environment at all.

“I hired a mate to come in and manage the fencing business and took a part time job in a tattoo studio in Brisbane, three days a week.”

Completely self-taught, Mr Wickham honed his craft over three years at the Gabba Tattoo Studio and Wildside.

“Then one day I got a phone call from a salesman asking to buy my fencing business,” Mr Wickham said.

“I told him I’d sell it if he found me a tattoo studio.

“Two weeks later he called back – he’d found one.”

In March 2011, Mr Wickham opened Ink Attack Tattoo Studio on Nicklin Way.

“The fencing business was booming and I did well out of the sale so with the extra cash I was able to set the shop up exactly how I wanted it,” he said.

“The first thing I think about before I tattoo anyone is hygiene.

“I studied for my health licence and learned how to contain a virus and how to avoid cross-contamination – every time I touch something I change my gloves.

“Nobody seems to understand the level of care that needs to be taken when tattooing, but I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I contaminated someone.

“So in that regard I think I’m perfect.”

After heading to his first overseas convention in California in 2010, Mr Wickham said he was hooked.

“I loved it, here I was surrounded by the best of the best and I was competing against them,” he said.

“I got to watch legends of the industry ply their trade and that inspired and challenged me to be the very best I could.

“Everyone is trying to do the best tattoo ever – these days I steer away from the simple stuff.

“I’m looking for complex art work, renaissance recreations, photo-realism, that’s where I want to be and what I want to be doing.

“I love Marvel art, baroque artworks, anything that’s visually exciting.”

Now with five leading tattoo supply brand sponsors who fly him to conventions around the world, Mr Wickham is at the top.

“They send me to win,” he said.

“I’m gone three months of the year and when I’m home I’m here tattooing five days a week, from 9.30am to whenever the work is finished, sometimes two in the morning.

“I don’t like to leave a job half-finished.”

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Globally acclaimed tattoo artist to open second Coast studio – The Sunshine Coast Daily

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