Japanese court rules tattoo artists need to be qualified doctors

A Japanese tattoo artist who argued he should not have to hold a medical certificate to tattoo people has lost his case and been ordered to pay a fine.

The decision by the Osaka District Court is likely to deal a major blow to the tattoo industry in a country where the Tattoo art is largely associated with the Yakuza, mafia-like organised crime syndicates.

Japanese law

Under Japanese law all tattoo artists require a formal medical qualification. Police raided the studio of Taiki Masuda in 2015 but he refused to pay the ensuing fine and asked for a trial.

The case, the first of its kind, has drawn international attention to tattoo culture in Japan, where historical associations with gangsters and a general social pressure for conformity.

Mr Masuda had argued that his tattooing was a form of artistic expression, and that preventing him for operating was a violation of the constitution. He said tattooists needed knowledge of safety and hygiene, but not to the same extent as licensed medical practitioners.

But the court ruled that medical knowledge and skills were indispensable in assessing the risks, and sentenced Mr Masuda to a 150,000 yen fine (about 1,850 New Zealand dollars).

Japanese culture

Mr Masuda said tattoos were "a part of traditional Japanese culture" and he would appeal against the ruling.

Irezumi is the name given to tattooing in Japan, and refers to many different forms of traditional Japanese tattoos, or modern forms inspired or derived from these. Just to confuse things, the word can be written AND spoken in several different ways, and also translate into several different words, although the most common is literally “insert ink”.

Japanese tattoos date back thousands of years, but their meaning and role in society fluctuates with different time periods. It was around the Kofun period (300-600 AD) that tattoos began to take on negative associations.

Criminals were tattooed as a form of punishment, so others would know they had committed a crime. It is estimated there are around 300 tattoo artists in Japan, it is unclear how many of those hold a medical qualification.


Maori tattoos in New Zealand

There are many different styles and methods of tattooing in modern day New Zealand. From traditional Maori and Pacifica styles, through to post-modern symbolism, the styles vary, but tattooing first began in New Zealand with Tā Moko. 

Tā Moko

It’s impossible to establish when Tā Moko started as there are no written records before the Europeans arrived, as there was no formal Maori written language. Instead, historians have had to rely on archaeologists and the accounts of the first European settlers.

Excavated sites have found tattooing tools dating back to the very earliest settlers, with some of the tools the same as the ones used in Samoa. Although the patterns and designs vary throughout the Pacific when it comes to tattoos, the technique of rhythmically tapping a bone chisel, lashed to a small wooden shaft remains the same.

Some of the earliest accounts of tattooing in New Zealand were by Sydney Parkinson. Parkinson was Captain James Cook’s artist on board the Endeavour, when it landed in Poverty Bay in 1769. He sketched and painted local Maori displaying their Moko, and described in detail the different styles and patterns he witnessed.

The Explorers noticed that Maori women were not as extensively tattooed as the men. Their upper lips were outlined, usually in dark blue, and their nostrils were also very finely incised. The chin moko was always the most popular, and continued to be practiced even into the 1970s.

Not just a pretty face

Tā Moko facial tattoos aren’t just for decoration, they also tell a story. A person’s ancestry is indicated on each side of the face. The left side is generally (but not always, depending on the tribe) the father's side, while the right-hand side indicates the mother's ancestry. If one side of a person's ancestry was not of rank, that side of the face would have no Moko design. Likewise if, in the centre forehead area there is no Moko design, this means the wearer either has no rank, or has not inherited rank.

Come to Sunset for a Maori tattoo

If you’re interested in getting a Maori tattoo design, then you should come see Tristan at Sunset Tattoo.

Tristan is of Te Rarawa descent, from the Hokianga in the far north. He graduated from the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts institute in 2014 with a diploma in Whakairo Rakau (traditional wood carving). Not long before Tristan graduated, he approached Tom about learning the craft of tattooing and bringing his knowledge of carving and Maori art over to the medium.

Tristan is now tattooing full time with Sunset, and specializes in Ta Moko, Blackwork, pattern work, geometric and dot-work tattoo styles.


Buy quality tattoo supplies from us

Tattoo artists who have been in the industry for long enough, know the difference between quality tattoo supplies and the difference they make to the finished product. That’s why artists in New Zealand know to come to Sunset for their tattoo supplies.

Our sister site, Tattoo Station

Our sister company, Tattoo Station, started from humble beginnings, and has quickly become one of New Zealand’s finest tattoo supply companies - all within the space of a year.

Sunset started as somewhere we could create artwork, in many different media, without stress or pressure, and in a few short years we are now attracting some of the best tattoo artists in New Zealand, and overseas.

This studio may only be a few of years old, but we’ve all been in this business a long time, and after years of buying tattoo supplies at huge mark-ups from people who don't even tattoo, we became frustrated and decided to do it ourselves.

That’s when Tattoo Station was born.

Passing the savings onto you

Tattoo Station is a tattoo supply store by tattoo artists for tattoo artists.

Forget the companies making a fortune off our backs; we’re bypassing them altogether.

We design and make our own tattoo supplies, and with combined decades of experience in the industry, we know exactly what works and what doesn’t.

We supply some of the highest quality needles in the world with our Botan range, along with one of the best aftercare creams available on the market, Protat. We’re the official supplies in New Zealand for the world famous Eternal Ink, and we’re now selling Senders Widows, beautiful, hand-made tattoo machines.

Add to that the usual tattoo studio essentials, and we’ve got you covered for all your tattoo supply needs here in New Zealand.

Forget ordering from overseas, along with their huge mark-ups. Stay in local, support Kiwi business, and save money and time while doing it.

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New Zealand Tattoo Ink Regulations

Well, surprisingly, there isn’t any.

Yep, that’s correct, the tattoo industry here in Aotearoa isn’t regulated, which means that tattoo ink isn’t regulated either.

This is why it is so important to go to a respected, reputable tattoo studio if you’re getting a tattoo.

Like us!

Tattoo Ink in New Zealand

One third of Kiwis under the age of 30 have a tattoo, and with one of the highest rates of tattooing in the world, you’d expect the industry to be regulated, but it’s not.

There are guidelines set out, but these aren’t legally binding in any way, and following them is completely voluntary.

Kiwi tattooists are expecting New Zealand laws to change soon when it comes to ink, as the European Chemicals Agency just published a list of potentially toxic chemicals used in some tattoos.

Across the Ditch

Our Australian cousins across the Tasman are more plugged in than we are. Tattoo artists in Australia are required to have a licence before tattooing a person, with breaches resulting in jail time.

This is something New Zealand may copy soon, with terrible “homers” causing infections and blood poisoning. This is bad for the industry as a whole, with professional studios and artists like us, being lumped in with a bunch of chancers doing tattoos in their garage for their mates.

Sunset’s tattoo ink

Here at Sunset, we are proud to be an official distributor of the world-famous Eternal Ink.

Made from organic pigments, deionized water and hamamelis water, this bright coloured ink is free of animal by-products and even suitable for vegans.

They arrive sealed in a medical grade bottle, ensuring hygiene, and the ink pigments are regularly tested and comply with all health and safety regulations.

Eternal Ink is not tested on animals, so there’s no guilty conscious tagging along with every purchase.

Eternal Ink are very picky about who they let sell their high-quality products. We are the only distributors in Auckland given this privilege and we take it seriously.

Contact us today if you’d like to order some of the finest tattoo ink at the cheapest prices, or head on over to our sister site, Tattoo Station and take a look at the other tattoo supplies we offer.


A basic guide to tattoo aftercare

Getting a tattoo isn’t like getting a haircut – there are health and safety concerns to follow up on. Here at Sunset, we’ll explain to you exactly what to do when it comes to tattoo aftercare.

Listen to your artist and follow these simple instructions after getting a tattoo, and not only will you be fine, but your tattoo will still look awesome years from now.

·        Leave your bandage on for at least a couple of hours after getting your tattoo. It’s there for a reason- to stop the bleeding and compact the wound, so leave it on.

·        And yes, it is a wound, so don’t get it infected!! Never touch it without cleaning your hands first, and clean it with soft, non-scented anti-bacterial soap, at least 3 times per day.

·        Keep it hydrated. This doesn’t mean splashing water on it when you wake up. For the first few days apply ointment. We recommend Protat aftercare cream.

·        For the first couple of weeks, try not to agitate the healing process by wearing tight clothes that will rub against your tattoo. If it’s on your back, learn to sleep on your front.

·        Avoid swimming pools, spas or hot tubs. Again, this is a great way to get an infection. Try to avoid any activity that make you sweat, and don’t expose your new tattoo to direct sunlight.

·        And last but not least, don’t pick at it!

So there you go, stick to these basic rules and you’ll be fine. For long term care, always use sun screen (which you should be using anyway), and keep your tattoo moisturised.

Sunset Tattoo are one of the most hygienic, respected and professional tattoo studios in Auckland. Contact us today to make a booking, or pop into the studio for a friendly chat. Our staff will be happy to answer any questions you may have about aftercare.


Getting your first tattoo? Then read this

If you have been thinking about getting your first tattoo, then we can help.

Sunset Tattoo is a professional tattoo studio in Auckland. As one of the most respected studios in the city, we pride ourselves on giving good advice, especially to people who are considering their first tattoo.

Before you go under the needle, consider the following:

Tattoos are permanent

Yes, ok, we all know that, but understanding that is something completely different. If you’re 18 and want a tattoo of your partner’s name, we would really advise you to think about it. Because let’s be honest here, statistically, you’re not going to be together in a few years. Think about what you’re doing, and truly ask yourself if you’ll be happy with this same tattoo a decade from now.

Do your research

If you’re unsure about what type tattoo you want, research it. Talk to people, and read tattoo websites and forums. Your first tattoo is a big deal, so don’t get one just for the sake of getting one.

Once you’ve decided on a design, do your research on tattoo studios. Find somewhere that is clean and reputable (like us!), with a large portfolio of work (like us!), with a friendly and supportive environment (like us!).

Aftercare is essential

The process doesn’t stop once you leave the studio. Proper aftercare is a vital part of getting your first tattoo. Without it, you could run into some serious health issues. We offer a range of creams and advice for you in the weeks following your first tattoo.

We take our profession very seriously, least of all our Health & Safety responsibilities. Getting inked in our tattoo studio in Auckland is a safe experience. We practice the highest level of hygiene and meticulously adhere to the Auckland council Health & Safety guidelines.

So if you're interested in getting your first tattoo with us, give us a call or pop into the studio for a chat.


Soundwave tattoos – mixing art with technology

The latest tattoo craze is an incredible blend of art and technology.

Soundwave tattoos have exploded onto the scene in 2017, and people are queuing up to get one.

The design is based on an audio signal, and with the corresponding app, you can turn your new ink into sound.


The soundwave tattoo allows you to record up to one minute of sound in your design. It all started when two friends got the opening line from Tiny Dancer tattooed by Nate Siggard.

As they were leaving after their appointment, Nate’s girlfriend Juliana said “wouldn’t it be cool if you could listen to the tattoo?” and Nate realized that he could make that happen. Nate decided he needed one of his own, with Juliana and their 4 month old baby saying “I love you” which he filmed to share online.

After the video went viral, messages from people from all over the world started pouring in, and Nate realised he had a great marketing idea.

People are wanting soundwaves of their children laughing, their dogs howling, and lines from their favourite songs.

How does it work?

It works by a person uploading the audio they want into the app or website, and Nate and his team generate the soundwave from that.

After that, you can take the generated soundwave to a tattoo artist from their Artist Network.

Once the artist completes the tattoo, a photo of the tattoo is uploaded to their platform, which then processes the audio and tattoo and adds it to the app.

When a user then opens the app and points their camera at the tattoo, it recognizes the shape of the Soundwave and plays back the audio.

It’s a nice idea, but the problem is the tattoo will only work for that specific app. If the company goes bust, or their servers go down… then it won’t work.

But it’s a risk many seem to be willing to take, with a long waiting list already forming!

Check out their facebook page here.

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What not to do in a tattoo studio

Tattoo artists have a great job. Unlike most people, they do what they love for a living.

But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy job.

There are things that make tattoo artists want to pull their hair out (or yours), either because they are so mind-numbingly stupid, or incredibly offensive.

If you do go for a tattoo, please don’t do any of the following…

Scoff at the price

Tattoo artists are just that – artists. And art costs money. No artist wants to sell their work for less than it’s worth, so pay up! And remember, when it comes to tattoos, you get what you pay for.

You’ll probably be charged at an hourly rate, so the cost is dependent on the size and detail of your tattoo. If you feel the tattoo is too much, then go away and save some more. The attitude of “I know a guy who’ll do it for half that price” is one which will you will absolutely regret in the long run.

Turn up drunk

We won’t tattoo you if you’re pissed. Simple as.

If you need a wee bit of Dutch Courage to get inked, then you shouldn’t be getting a tattoo in the first place. Drunk people are a pain in the ass and not fun to work with. On top of that, it’s dangerous to get a tattoo with alcohol in your system. It thins the blood, making healing more difficult, so stay off the booze.

Not turn up at all

Not turning up to your appointment is a big no-no. We offer a free consultation here at Sunset, but there’s a reason we take a deposit once you make a booking. When we book a time for you, that means we’re not taking any other customers, so if you don’t turn up, that’s money we could have been earning. Instead we’re twiddling our thumbs, wondering if you’ve chickened out, forgotten, or been hit by a bus. It’s usually chickened out though.

If you need to cancel or move your appointment and give us more than 48 hours notice we will keep the deposit as shop credit for you.

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Are tattoos suitable for vegans?

Did you know that 1-in-10 people in New Zealand is either a vegetarian or vegan? That figure has jumped significantly in the previous decade, and it looks like it’s only going to increase.

With a substantial part of the public against animal products, how does this affect the tattoo industry? With many tattoo products made from animal products, or at the very least tested on animals, there is a danger that the industry is missing out on a significant demographic.

What contains animal products?

Tattoo Ink is the biggest offender, with many containing glycerine from animal fat, gelatine from hooves, or shellac from beetles.

But it’s not just ink. Many supplies contain animal products, such as latex gloves, aftercare creams, and stencil paper.

In fact, if you’re being really strict about it – which most vegans are – then pretty much everything in a tattoo studio can be attached to animals in some way. Even aluminium foil isn’t vegan because it contains vark, which is made from silver metal beaten between sheets of ox guts.

Eternal Ink – Suitable for Vegans

Here at Sunset Tattoo we use the world-famous Eternal Ink.

Eternal Ink is not tested on animals and free of animal by-products, so there’s no guilty conscious tagging along with every purchase.

Made from organic pigments, deionized water and hamamelis water, this bright coloured ink is supplied in a medical grade sealed bottle, ensuring its longevity before and after opening, the ink pigments are regularly evaluated for testing and comply with all health and safety regulations.

The brand trusted by tattoo artists around the world, Eternal Ink lead the way in tattoo ink by setting strict standards in product consistency, quality ingredients, and outstanding performance. They take great satisfaction in knowing that artists believe and trust in their product.

If you would like a guilt-free tattoo, then come see us at Sunset!

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Good tattoos aren’t cheap, and cheap tattoos aren’t good

We all love a bargain, and finding a gem in an op-shop now and again is fantastic. New Zealand isn’t exactly the cheapest place to live, and for anyone making minimum wage, the less we pay, the better off we are.

But tattoos are different.

Never make price the deciding factor

If you’re seriously considering a tattoo, then put the price out of your mind. If price is your main concern, then you’re not serious about it.

Figure out what kind of tattoo you want first, where it’s going to go and how big you want it. Then find a respectable, experienced tattoo artist.

Talk with them about your ideas, and what you want as a finished product. Think about what you want ten years from now.

Now ask about the price.

If it’s outside of your budget, either explain that to the artist and figure something else out, or simply wait until you’ve saved up enough.

The cost of something isn’t the same as the price

If you make the mistake of going cheap, then you may regret it for the rest of your life.

Let’s just say you’ve gone to see a tattoo artist, explained what you wanted, and they have quoted you something that’s a couple hundred more bucks than you were expecting. The smart thing to do is to save up and come back another day.

The dumb thing to do is go to someone who’ll do it cheaper.

People who tend to do tattoos ‘cheaper’ are usually not only less skilled than professional tattoo artists, but a lot more dangerous.

There will always be someone who’s bought a tattoo gun off Trade Me and thinks they know what they’re doing. Without the proper training in Health &Safety, or their premises meeting hygiene standards, a tattoo from someone like this is just asking for trouble.

Even forgetting about the risk of disease such as Hepatitis from previously used needles, there’s a very real threat of your tattoo becoming infected.

Not to mention the fact you might end up like this bell-end.

The latest tattoo ink colours from Sunset

Sunset tattoo are now in the tattoo ink supply business! And what a range we have for you tattoo artists out there!

We are proud to be an official distributor of the world-famous Eternal Ink.

Made from organic pigments, de-ionized water and hamamelis water, this bright coloured ink is free of animal by-products and even suitable for vegans.

They arrive sealed in a medical grade bottle, ensuring hygiene, and the ink pigments are regularly tested and comply with all health and safety regulations.

Eternal Ink is not tested on animals, so there’s no guilty conscious tagging along with every purchase. Check out our sister site Tattoo Station for all your tattoo supply needs, including the incredible Eternal Ink.

Amazing colour sets

The amazing Liz Cook created this palette of colours. The set features a vibrant collection of rich violets and some eye-catching greens.

Chucks Seasonal Spectrum Series features an assortment of colours found throughout the seasons. You'll love the colourful range of warm and cool hues. 

Detroit put a nation on wheels and rolled us through a lifetime of memories. The Motor City Ink Set is a flashback to Detroit speed. Here are 12 hues inspired by vintage sheet metal fantasies, high gloss paint and all the reckless joys of a fine ride.

Designed by tattoo artist Halo, the Eternal Ink Halo Fifth Dimension ink set collects 12 opaque hues of intense light Use the hues straight from the bottle as complementary or as high-value tints to quickly provide additional pop and impact to your art!

The Eternal Ink portrait series has been designed to give depth and contrast to portrait work. With warm and cool tones, this set blends a perfect assortment of colours for portrait and pin-up work.

Myke Chambers' art is instantly recognizable with rich, saturated hues and strong symbolic images inked in his unmistakable style. Presented here are 12 of Chambers' favorite hues mixed perfectly to Eternal inks high standards.

The NZ Tattoo & Art Festival 2017

The biggest tattoo event in Australasia is back for the 7th year! The New Zealand Tattoo & Art Festival will be held at the TSB Stadium in New Plymouth on the 25 & 26 November 2017, and of course the team at Sunset will be there!

The best artists in every style of tattooing are coming to New Plymouth to tattoo you! Tattoo appointments can be made by contacting the artists direct - once announced, make sure you include the following in your email, size of tattoo, placement on body, any reference pics you have & your budget, lots artists will also be doing walk up tattoos all weekend long.

The Festival

In only six short years, the festival has become Australasia’s biggest tattoo show, with over 250 artists and models attending. As usual, the standard of the artists attending is world class, with the likes of Ryan Ashley Malarkey, Tommy Helm, and Dan Smith coming over from the USA.

Entertainment highlights include Head Like A Hole live on Saturday night, 3 shows a day from FMX superstar Levi Sherwood, BMX, live performances from U.K fire dancer Cervena Fox & aerialist Venus Starr.

Buy your tickets now and make sure you get a place at the biggest tattoo festival in New Zealand!

By buying through Ticketek now, you can save money rather than paying at the gate. An adult 2-day pass is only $45, 10 bucks cheaper than paying on the day.

An adult day pass is $30, compared to 35 on the day, and kids 14 and under are free.

If you’re heading to New Plymouth for the festival, pre-book with one of our artists today! Simply email info@sunsettattoo.co.nz

Upcoming guest artists at Sunset

Here at Sunset Tattoo, we’re constantly joining forces with renowned tattoo artists from not only New Zealand, but from around the world.

Sunset artists

Tom started Sunset with his wife, well-known Kiwi tattoo artist Misery, and not only have they built up one of Auckland’s finest tattoo studios, but they’ve also gathered some of the best artists in the industry.

As well as home-grown talent, working for Sunset, we also have the exceptional Ten Tigers Tattoo working here in the studio with us. Capilli Tupou is an artist specialising in old school traditional style tattooing. As a New Zealander of Maori (Te Rarawa) and American Samoan heritage, Capilli brings his own unique Polynesian slant to the style.

Capilli’s work has been admired both within New Zealand and abroad, allowing him to work at some of the best studios around the world. Here in Auckland he has worked with Sacred Heart Tattoo and Two Hands Tattoo.

Guests at Sunset

Continuing our desire to work with the best artists around, we have some very special guests dropping into the studio over the next few months.

Ryan Ussher

Ryan Ussher from Sydney will be guest spotting at the Sunset studio on November 20th. Drawing inspiration from traditional Japanese tattooing, the ukiyo-e period and the colourful western world, Ryan’s tattooing is applied with heavy contrast, movement and clarity that aims to be noticed from across the street.

Makoto Horimatsu

We are very excited to announce Makoto Horimatsu is returning to Sunset after visiting us last year. Makoto will be guest spotting at the studio in late November, so contact us now if you would like to go on a waiting list to get a booking!

Hailing from Japan, Kokura is one of the finest tattoo artists in the industry and we are truly honoured to have him join us.

Nicklas Wong

The very talented Nicklas Wong will be guest spotting at the studio August 1st - 5th. Contact the studio for bookings!

What’s happening this July for Sunset Tattoo

Sunset join in with this year’s First Thursday!

Ten Tigers Tattoo and Sunset Tattoo are joining in with this winters’ First Thursday!

On Thursday 6th July, between 4pm -9pm, we will be taking walk-ins only! Come along to the studio and see the loads of flash designs at special prices ready to be tattooed!

History of First Thursday

On the first Thursday of two months a year, K Road will come alive with visual artists, performance artists, fashion shows, live music, installations, photographers, musicians, DJs. If you live in Auckland or just visiting for the summer, come be a part of the collaboration!

First Thursdays on K-Road had its humble beginnings in the iconic St Kevin's Arcade in December 2009. Our first event showcased nine visual artists, dance performances and DJ's.

Since then there have been 10 successful First Thursdays events along K'Road, showcasing thousands of local artists and attracting crowds in the thousands.

Theme for this month

This First Thursday we invite you to the 'Mad Hatters Tea Party', a trip down the rabbit hole with Alice and the gang into the eclectic and quirky world of K Road.

We would love to see K' Road celebrate in its own way, drawing influence from Lewis Carroll's weird and wonderful journey, Alice in Wonderland.  An evening of revelry and good times await in the country's most bohemian district, so don't be late for this very important date!

Make A Booking At Sunset

If you can’t make it for the First Thursday, and instead would like to request a booking or consultation, you can send us an email, call us, or pop into the studio.

If you have reference photos to show us please be sure to attach them to your email or print them off if you are coming into the studio.

Please note that some of our tattoo artists are booked up for weeks so it pays to book in advance if you have a specific date in mind that you want to be tattooed on. As for consultations, they usually take around 10-20 minutes and are free of charge.

Sunset now sell their own tattoo supplies!

Sunset Tattoo are excited to bring you our new sister site: Tattoo Station.

If you’re looking for great deals on high-quality tattoo products and equipment, then look no further. We only sell the very best of everything, all at an unbeatable price.

The very best in tattoo supplies

After years of buying tattoo supplies at huge mark-ups from people who don't even tattoo, we became frustrated and decided to do it ourselves. This new range of products is for tattoo artists, by tattoo artists. We know the difference between quality tattoo equipment and the cheap, nasty stuff, and we make sure you don’t get the latter.

Tattoo aftercare products

Tattoo Aftercare is an essential part of the tattooing process, and we like to make sure it’s getting done right. From basic health reasons (don’t pick at it) to aesthetic reasons (moisturise to keep the colours bright), there are do’s and don’ts to follow once you get a tattoo. Follow them and everything should be fine.

Protat Tattoo Aftercare Cream

At Sunset, we suggest Protat Aftercare Cream. Protat are the world’s first tattoo aftercare company. By using chemists from their development team and overseas they are constantly researching new ingredients, with natural products receiving special attention.

Each Protat product has been precisely formulated with highly experienced members of the tattoo and piercing profession. New developments by Protat can only benefit the industry and enhance respect for body art practitioners everywhere. Protat Premium After Care cream has been designed to be the primary product in the Protat range. It utilises the technology of the Soothing After Care Cream with the added ingredients.

So there you have it, our new venture into the tattoo supply business. Please take a look at our new site, Tattoo Station, and if you have any questions about tattoo supplies for your studio, don’t hesitate to contact us.

3 tips for getting a tattoo if you’re dark skinned

While there’s plenty of advice out there for white people getting tattoos, there’s not much for those with a higher melanin content.

People from African, Indian and Pacifica backgrounds are often forgotten about when it comes to information about getting a tattoo.

We’ve put together this short article to explain a couple of things about getting ink when you’ve got darker skin.

Make a consultation first

Good advice for anyone getting a tattoo, regardless of skin colour. Talking to your tattoo artist before going under the needle is always a good idea.

By booking a consultation, you can get a better feeling of what’s possible and understand the limitations involved.

If you have darker skin, your initial idea might not be plausible, or won’t come out as you’re expecting. Talk to your artist first, they are the ones with the experience, and can help you make the right choice.

Avoid lighter colours

Despite what bullshit you may read on the internet, there are NO special inks for dark skin. Tattoo ink isn’t made for skin types, but the quality of the ink can vary widely.

Tattoo ink is generally translucent, so the skin underneath will show through. This means, the darker your skin, then less lighter-colours will show.

Black or grey ink usually works best on darker skin, evidenced by this cool MF.

Genetics can affect scar tissue

If you're of African ancestry, your skin may be prone to keloids, which is an overgrowth of scar tissue.

Knowing whether or not you are prone to keloids can help before getting a tattoo, as your artist may need to use different techniques to limit the scar tissue, including reducing power to the tattoo gun, and not going over the same area twice.


Call us today at Sunset Tattoo, and we can help you with your first tattoo.

Meet the Sunset Tattoo Artists

From humble beginnings just a few years ago, Sunset has grown into one of Auckland’s most thriving and respected tattoo studios.

Tom McMillan opened Sunset with his wife, well known NZ artist, Misery only 3 short years ago, and now Sunset has taken on more artists on a permanent basis, along with special guests popping in from time to time.

Tom McMillan

Tom Tom opened Sunset Tattoo in 2014 working around the world as well as in some of New Zealand's best tattoo studios. He has been tattooing for over 10 years and focuses on specializing in his own unique take on western traditional and Japanese tattoo styles. Tom switches easily between large-scale full body tattoos to palm size one-shot tattoos, and is always on the look out for new, original design challenges.

Tristan Marler

Tristan is of Te Rarawa descent, from the Hokianga in the far North. He is trained in Whakairo Rakau (traditional wood carving). He has been blending his knowledge of carving and Maori art over to the art of Tattooing. Tristan specializes in Ta Moko, Blackwork, pattern work, geometric and dot-work tattoo styles.

Thomas Clark

Thomas has been a full time Ta Moko artist for the past 12 years. Thomas is a well-respected Māori artist whose formal training and applied practice allows him to cross several artistic disciplines – Tā Moko (Traditional Markings on Skin), Kirituhi (Applied Skin Design), Rauangi (Abstract Painting), Whakairo Uku (Clay Sculpture).

Mash Primrose

Mash specialises in bold western traditional tattooing with his own unique take.  His tattoos are perfect for anyone looking to get a traditional tattoo with a modern stylish twist. 

Jacob Cross 

Jacob is fast becoming one of New Zealand's best known Traditional tattooers. His no-nonsense, bright, bold, traditional style has its roots firmly in American and European tattoo history. 


If you would like an awesome tattoo by one of our friendly and talented artists, please don't hesitate to contact us today.

3 reasons not to copy someone else’s tattoo

For anyone wanting their first tattoo, it’s very tempting to see one you like and simply copy it, but this isn’t necessarily the best thing to do.

There are a number of reasons why you shouldn’t copy someone else’s design, and we’ve put together the top three for you in this short article.

It’s personal to someone else

Maybe the best reason not to copy someone else’s tattoo design is simply this; it’s not yours.

We don’t mean you didn’t create it, so you can’t use it (more on that later), we mean it’s nothing to do with you, and everything to do with someone else.

If someone has that design on their skin, it’s probably going to mean something to them on a personal level. It may have been specially designed to remind them of a person or a memory, so you taking it not only degrades that memory, but doesn’t fit with you and your life.

Find a design that suits you, that’s personal to you, and this way it’s yours.

It’s an insult to the tattooist

It’s one thing to sit down with an artist and design a tattoo, or even bring one in you’ve designed yourself. It’s quite another to bring a design in another artist has created and demand that.

It’s insulting to the tattoo artist. It’s like bringing a packed lunch into a restaurant and wondering why the chef is pissed at you.

Any tattoo artist worth their salt can create a design for you, so asking them to copy someone else’s is a big faux pas.

It’s intellectual property theft

This is more a moral issue, although sometimes it can be a legal one.

Stealing someone else’s design is no different than stealing their novel. It’s their creativity in a physical, material form, and it should be respected.

Copying their work is not only morally wrong, but disrespectful to the original artist. And it may also get you into legal trouble.

Stay clear of all these problems by simply designing your own tattoo or using your artists previous designs.

If you would like an original tattoo, then come see us here at Sunset.

FAQ about tattoos and Sunset

How do I get myself an awesome tattoo from Sunset?

The best way is to email us on info@sunsettattoo.co.nz or call the shop (09)3763423. We are happy to help with any questions you might have. If you are after a custom tattoo, designed by one of our artists, you can send us a description of what you are looking to get done, and we can pair you with the right artist for the style you are looking for. From there usually you can come in for a free consultation. At the consultation we can help you with making your concept into a great tattoo. If you already have an existing image that you would like to get tattooed, just send an image of it to us and we should be able to quote it for you. 

What kind of styles do you specialise in?

Our artists specialise in most styles of tattooing including Western Traditional, Japanese, Black and grey, lettering, Maori Tamoko, and Pacifica tattooing. We most definitely welcome enquiries of all styles and all sizes. 

Where are you located?

We are located in the heart of the city at 4a Cross Street Auckland 1010, which runs parallel to Karangahape Road and sits between Mercury Lane and Upper Queen Street.

Do I need to make an appointment?

We strive to have a tattoo artist available for walk in's at all time. A lot of our artists have designs ready to go and we love walk in's. Some of our artists have longer waiting periods than others, and do custom tattoos that can take a bit longer to design. 

How old do you need to be to get tattooed?

You need to be 18 years of age with proof of Identification to get tattooed. Parental consent for under 18 year olds is  NOT acceptable. And don't even try to fake it- we're not a bar.

What is the minimum price for a tattoo?

Our minimum charge is $100.00. This cost covers our minimum sterile set up, supplies, as well as wages for the artist. We strive to always have the highest possible quality supplies, tools, and utmost cleanliness, hygiene, and professional skill, and this is what the minimum cost is covering.

How much does a tattoo cost?

Cost depends on the time it will take to do your tattoo. The best way to get a quote is to come in to the shop in person or email us and we can give you an idea of price. Tattoos that can be done in one session can be quoted by the piece, and ongoing larger tattoos are charged by our hourly rate.

What is your hourly rate?

Tattoos are generally priced at an hourly rate of $175 per hour. Larger works are best booked in for a half-day session (3 hours) at $500 or a full day session (6 hours) at $950

*We feel it is very important to note that we get this question a lot! Hourly rates are often irrelevant. If you are looking for a cheap hourly rate, you are most likely looking for a bad or inexperienced tattoo artist. And an inexperienced tattoo artist is often a SLOW one, and can end up costing you MORE. Or you might end up with one that might give you a tattoo you end up regretting. Generally, the best tattoo artists in New Zealand will have a fairly similar rate, and your best bet is to pick an artist whose work you love and whose skill you trust. A busy artist has no reason to overcharge, and prefers to have happy customers who are return customers. A great tattoo artist usually simply loves their job and wants the best for their clients. 

How much do consultations cost?

Consultations are free and take place at 10.30am or 6.15pm Tuesday-Saturday.

Do I need to pay a deposit for my tattoo appointment and how much?

Usually we take a deposit of $50-$150 depending on the time involved in the project. Deposits are always cashed out at the end of the project. Deposits are non- refundable. If you need to cancel or move your appointment and give us more than 48 hours notice we will keep the deposit as shop credit for you.

Why do I need to pay a deposit?

Deposits are there to protect the artists from no-shows and last minute cancellations. They are a way of ensuring that the job will happen and that the client is serious. If you don't show up to your appointment your artist does not get paid. Failure to notify us within 48 hours or more than 3 reschedules will result in the loss of your deposit and the need to pay a new one to secure a new time.

Shop hours:

We are open from Tuesday through to Saturday from 10am till 6pm. Often our artist work after hours by appointment.

Things to remember before your appointment: 

Be on time for your appointment. It's best if you've had a good nights sleep and eaten something substantial before getting tattooed. The healthier you feel the better the experience will be. 


Remove bandage after two hours, wash well with warm soapy water and pat dry with a clean towel.
Air dry and apply a small amount of our recommended Protat after care cream. Repeat twice a day for fourteen days.
Please do not soak in water, do not swim in the sea or swimming pool, do not expose your tattoo to the sun until completely healed.
Do not itch, scratch or pick your tattoo. Keep clean at all times.

Human history and tattoos

Tattoos are nothing new. They’re not even old.

They’re ancient.

Humans have been tattooing themselves literally since before the dawn of civilisation. Think back to Biblical times with Jesus. Now keep going. Double that time frame to the building of the pyramids… and keep going.

In fact, double that again.

We’re heading back to a time when we had to worry about sabretooth tigers.

Timeline of Tattoos

10,000BC: We’re back in the Palaeolithic period, when tattooing for spiritual purposes is thought to have begun. We’re not certain, but it is believed tattoos were a way to ward off “evil spirits” and sickness.

3300BC: In 1991, two hikers in the Alps came across Ötzi the Iceman, a mummified Neolithic man. This 5,000 year old murder victim had over 50 tattoos!

1045BC-256BC: Tattoos in China during the Zhou Dynasty were associated with criminals, gangsters and bandits, with criminals often tattooed to warn others of their deceitful/dangerous past.

Samoa: The traditional method of Samoan tattooing has been carried out for 2000 years.

Maori: Moko tattoos of the past 1000 years differ from Polynesian tattoos in that the lines of the pattern are carved into the flesh rather than pricked into the skin.

1770s: Many of the global sailors exploring the planet along with the likes of Captain Cook, bring home tattoos from the pacific. This starts the long tradition and association of sailors and tattoos.

1876: Thomas Edison designs and patent an “electric pen”. In 1891 Samuel O’Reilly modifies the design to inject ink under the skin, and creates the first tattoo gun.

1898: An estimated one in five members of the British gentry was tattooed.

2010: The Ministry of Health releases guidelines on traditional tattooing to protect against infections, hepatitis and HIV.

2017: One in three Kiwis under the ages of 30 have a tattoo.


If you’re interested in getting a tattoo, Sunset tattoo studio in Auckland are the guys to call.