A BRIEF LOOK AT THE HISTORY OF THE P.T.A.A
The professional tattooing association of Australia was born in Melbourne in the June of 1985 when a need was felt within the industry to unify artists throughout the country. It was the only such organisation in Australia, in fact one of the only two in the entire world at that time, who's membership consisted of professional tattoo artists only. Its aim was to benefit working artists and their clientele and the Tattoo Industry as a whole.
Some of those founding members are still very active within the P.T.A.A Inc, to this very day: Patsy Farrow, Bev 'Cindy Ray' Nicholas, Peter Davidson, Graeme Illes and Mick Hayes, that's 38 years of continuous support. (Dan Robinson Snr. and Colin Franz are two names also on that list, but unfortunately, have passed away in recent years.)
Information was made available to local government departments, health authorities and the general public concerning the special needs and aspects of this traditionally misunderstood art. The P.T.A.A. was responsible for many major changes in Health Department procedures in regards to tattooing and provided a united voice for all professional tattoo artists who wanted their art taken seriously, and its credibility grew stronger year by year.
As the membership grew the P.T.A.A was divided into state branches to more efficiently handle local matters and share the work load with a representative for each state who would take his/hers place on the duly elected National Committee which also consisted of a President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer.
In May, 1986 the P.T.A.A held its very first tattoo convention in Melbourne, this was to be a one day event featuring an afternoon of tattoo competitions followed by a dinner and presentations, and it was a 'sell out' event. These conventions were to become a yearly event as their popularity grew and in 1988 Brisbane was to play host city to this event, followed by Sydney, Adelaide and even Perth in later years. Our 10 year Anniversary convention in Melbourne in 1995 grew to a two day event with tattoo and trade booths on site and still featured every popular tattoo competitions and all culminating with a dinner and presentations. Paul Jeffries from Smiling' Buddha, Canada was our very first 'International Artist' who attended this convention.
Within a year we were hosting three day conventions featuring both International and Australian artists, and as these events had become so popular dinner guests usually numbered 600+, give or take a few. And as the popularity grew we had to keep moving to larger premises, the big hotel chains that could offer enough room for our 'Tattoo Expo', a dining room to host our dinner and presentations, a bar/chill out area along with accommodation. We did it all under one roof and it was such a friendly atmosphere, totally family orientated, that all in attendance agreed that it was such a great time.
Booth costs were kept at a very minimum; nearly all the artists and stall holders were provided with all their needs, There was no exorbitant pricing and no one person profiting from the events, if any profit was to be gained, then it was returned to the P.T.A.A Industry for the benefit of the tattoo artist.
Our main aim was to present to the public the incredible skin art being produced in our fair country and to expel the myth of tattooing being an unfavourable past-time solely for the criminal element or sea mariners. Mums, dads, doctors, lawyers, policemen and women teachers, everyday people from all walks of life would be in attendance, proudly displaying their body art and enjoying the camaraderie of fellow artists and supporters.
Over the years, the P.T.A.A inc has supported artists and not necessarily members, in times of need (hardship) with donations of varying amounts. Those artists affected by illness, floods and even earthquakes, such as what took place in New Zealand some years ago. We have done our very best to support our fraternity in whatever way possible.
The P.T.A.A. has worked with Government Dept. and has instigated many changes to the Skin Penetration Guidelines; it has also fought to veto a number of 'ridiculous ideas for procedures' such as the 3 day cooling off period which was 'almost' introduced in South Australia a few years ago. We are at present working with governing bodies in the various states in regards to the 'Tattoo Licensing Laws', as those introduced to date in both New South Wales and Queensland have many flaws indeed and are leaving honest, hard working artists out in the cold with no prospects of retaining the job they love in an industry they have strived for.
We have worked with schools, social and community clubs etc; teaching today's youth an understanding of our art, age and health issues, even to choosing the right artist when the time comes. We have solicitors that work on numerous accounts, whether it be political discrimination or whatever. We have sent letters to politicians and the likes of Ebay to try and stem the flow of tattoo equipment coming into our country, straight into the hands of the "would be wanna be" ever present back-yarders. We have brokers searching for the best possible studio insurance coverage while most companies have turned their back on our industry (due to the so-called 'bikie wars)
And too, we have our very own 'newsletter', Tat Chat, that is more of a magazine than a photocopied few pages. Tat Chat is again another first for our industry, but is only available to P.T.A.A. members.
Whether a member or not, if you sit back and have a damn good think about it, all studios/artists benefit from the work we do, but you the member can at least give yourself a pat on the back and say "Hey I'm a part of this and I'm supporting my Industry the best way I can!"