While I was in Samoan tattooing school my mentor and colleague Mr John Buhr, helped me to name my tattoo. After this, everyone in our group at Sydney University (Samoan) was encouraged to call me “Shit”.
What is a Samoan tattoo?
A Samoan tattoo is a “strawman” style tattoo using natural fibers. The original samoan tattoo style did not use fibers. Today, the Samoan tattoo artist relies on synthetic fibers and traditional samoan tattoo ink techniques to achieve a realistic effect.
Does traditional Samoan tattooing involve needles?
Traditional Samoan tattooing involves “puncture wounds” where the artist cuts a shape of natural fiber or resin. The needle is made of various sizes or lengths of fiber. Many Samoan tattoo artists prefer to work with long needles, although some prefer to work with small needles. While a needle is not needed to create a tattoo, it is very difficult to remove the needle after the tattoo is complete. This means that the needle will linger in your tattoo for years. This is why the traditional samoan artist prefers to perform the tattoo on the skin and not use needles.
Why don’t traditional Samoan tattoo artists have needles?
“When I was first introduced the first thing that my instructors used to do was to explain the concept of a “puncture wound” without including needles into their explanations. This immediately left a bad taste in my mouth as a first introduction, in a course where there should have been needles. The students were taught that a “puncture wound” is an area of the body where the skin is penetrated by the needle, where the needle passes through the tissue.
The instructor could have simply said the artist made a piercing wound when the skin was pierced and then the needle passed through the needle hole, or the artists had to keep going and explain how the needles were inserted and removed and the tattoo was done and there were two types of stitches made, one where the needle was inserted in the skin and the other where the needle was inserted in the tattoo.”
Is there a Samoan tattoo artist in Sydney?
No. No, Samoan tattooing is not an official skill set of Sydney’s Samoan Samoan Society. The Samoan Society does not teach people how to tattoo. The Society does not endorse anyone as an expert in Samoans who specializes in this craft.
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