Roger Ingerton – Part Two

Posted: May 8, 2007 by Andreas Engel in Tattoo Artist Bios
Tags: , , ,

By Margaret Ingerton

In 1977 Roger moved to his present, much larger premises at 198 Cuba St. He intended to call the new shop ‘Roger’s Tattooart’, but on the new business card, the printer dropped one of the t’s in ‘Tattoo’. Roger liked the printer’s version, so he kept it. Hence – ‘Roger’s Tatooart’. I work with him. My job is dealing with the people who phone or come in with queries, and I organise his appointments. In short, I run the business, and he does the art.More...
In the late seventies Roger pioneered the development of Maori style tattooing (apart from the Moko). Much of the work he did in this style was his own freehand adaptation of traditional patterns. He says he has learnt a lot from Maori artists who have supplied him with patterns to be tattooed for themselves and their friends and families. He loves this style of tattooing, and has a real feel for the flow of Pacific Island patterns. It was probably this type of work, along with a pe’a he did in 1982 that first won him accolades, especially from overseas. In America particularly, his work was acclaimed. Ed Hardy published many photos of Roger’s work in the ‘TattooTime’, and National Tattoo Association published a steady stream of his work…

In 1980 when Roger and I went to our first international Tattoo Convention in Sacramento, he realised that photography was the only practical way to present a good tattoo art piece. He began to take more photos of his work.
He designs many of the tattoos himself. Sometimes people bring him exact pictures of what they want, but more often they have an idea, or a ‘sort of a picture’ and he takes it from there. He is intuitive, and has a talent for interpreting people’s ideas, even when they are not very articulate. He takes their idea, makes a few quick lines on a bit of paper, and says ‘Like this?’ Most often it is ‘like that’, and the person’s face lights up.
The whole concept of tattooing has changed and evolved in the years Roger has been in Cuba Street, and he has been at the forefront of that change. Although a lot of clients still get just one or two small tattoos, many keep coming back. Among Roger’s strengths is the ability to plan ahead, to make everything he does look complete, but at the same time making provision to add to it if the client decides to do so.
The small tattoos have changed too. Gone are the days of standard flash. Nowadays people are asking for smaller and finer designs, with ever more intricate detail. Roger has honed his system to deal with these just as well as the large, bold tattoos. He often says that the most important tattoo is the one he is doing now. The shop gets extremely busy, at times there are up to seven or eight people clamouring to speak to him, while he may be grappling with a very demanding piece of work. When that happens I have to do the best I can to help, trying to interrupt him as little as possible. People come from all over New Zealand and from overseas to get work from Roger.
The shop is set out the way he likes it – as a gallery with some old style flash, a range of photographs of his work, and lots of his own paintings and drawings in different mediums. The latter include works done in mixed media, water paints, oils, and pen and pencil drawings, some of which have been exhibited in various Wellington galleries. All of the above combine to give the shop an ‘olde worlde’ look, as well as a hint of the tremendous creative energy that has gone into the making of it People often comment on the good atmosphere. Although he has changed and updated some of the displays over the years, the shop still has essentially the same feel as it did when he opened in 1977. Until 1990, Roger ran the place by himself, with help from me. Since that year, we have sometimes had other artists working with us.
One of our aims is to make anyone who comes into the shop feel comfortable. We want people like the mature executive who recently got a rose tattooed on her shoulder to be as much at ease as any young man about town. Children come in and watch while Mum or Dad gets a tattoo, and shy young women sense that they are in a safe place. The shop is open – people can see what is going on, although of course we provide privacy when the client requires it. Parents who may not even want their offspring to get tattoos will sometimes bring teenagers to us. Their reasoning is that if the kids are determined to be tattooed, they’d better steer them to the right place.
Fashions in tattoos change. Peacocks, anchors, armbands in various styles and mixtures of styles – people still ask for these. Maori, Celtic, black tribal and abstract designs are always in demand, but there are ever increasing numbers of new, modern ideas presented from tiny symbols to full body pieces. Samoan and other Pacific Island patterns are also very popular. As with the earlier Maori work, Roger has increased his knowledge by working with ethnic artists who furnish him with artwork for their own and their friends’ tattoos. One way or another, nearly all the work Roger does now is custom work. He likes a challenge, which is just as well because he is presented with many every day.

There is a story for every tattoo and this is part of the story of a tattooed man who became a tattooer of others.




Roger’s TatooArt
198 Cuba Street,
New Zealand.
Operating uninterrupted at this location since 1977

(04) 3845242
A call from the US in the evening will connect you to New Zealand mid day on the following day


PO Box 6407
Marion Square,
New Zealand.

  1. […] what Roger’s wife Margaret has to say about his Maori influenced artwork. Ingerton's Moko-based art holds a common theme […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s