Today we are 20 years old, hard to imagine really, a long time that has passed by laced with moments of frustration, tears, happiness, laughter, growth, pain & blood. It has been quite the Journey.
I will tell our story, some of it, not all, as to fit all the events of 20 years would involve a rather large novel. But in honour of this moment in time, I will do my best to briefly recount in 3 parts, some of the story of Cooloola Tattoo. ( CT ) Caz. 18th April 2022
History of Cooloola Tattoo Written by Caz
Caz had recently moved to Gympie, met Brent and married, when Cooloola Tattoo become available for sale in 2002. It was already an existing Shop in Nash st at the time of purchase, which she had previously worked in. In those early days Caz worked alone, doing everything, Tattooing, Piercing, Sterilising, Needle making, Ordering, Cleaning, those days were hard. Stencils were drawn by hand, which involved going over the same design a few times, which could, depending on the design, take hours, all needles were made not purchased ready-made as they are today, grips were stainless steel and required sterilising as none of the disposable versions existed. Tattoo machines needed tweaking and tuning and were much noisier and heavier in weight than the machines of today.A lot of things had to be done before the actual Tattooing even commenced.
After a few years it became evident that Caz would need someone to take some of the load, keep company and train. This was offered to Eammon, Caz’s son, who readily accepted, and so the journey of apprenticeship began. After a while Caz and Eammon knew, we had out grown our current location and made the decision to move to bigger premises down Gympie’s main street to Condies Arcade in 2006.
Clearly remember people saying “Why do you want to move down there you know it floods” Yes, of course but Gympie had not had a flood for years, so we felt confident in our choice and figured we would take our chances.
Condies arcade offered us a two-level space which had been a hair salon previously.
Eammon began his training initially drawing stencils for Caz, Piercing, helping customers and getting a feel for the industry. From the start he proved to be a natural with much Artistic talent for the art of Tattooing and with amazing customer service skills, he soon become popular and people were keen for him to Tattoo them. Some of my proudest moments were working with my son, it really didn’t take long before teacher became student and I was to learn from him.
After a while, with both of us Tattooing and piercing we realised we should invite another to join the team. Josh had been a regular to CT over the years, too young to be Tattooed he must have had most everything pierced by Eammon, nearly everything… When Josh was suggested by Eammon I thought oooooo I don’t know, as it turns out he proved to be a good choice.
With the three of us now on board and after working in close proximity for many years Caz made the decision to branch out, only working at CT a couple of days a week and the remainder at Rainbow Beach offering both Tattooing and piercing. This involved quite a lot, CT now owned 2 sterilisers, 2 separate health dept licensing, all the extra tools/equipment needed to operate in 2 locations. Working in Rainbow was a truly awesome experience and I remained doing this for 9 years although the number of days were to change to only a couple.
Eammon had taken over the teaching of Josh and having only just come into his Tattooing stride himself, did so with much professionalism.
Eammon was now primarily Tattooing and Josh was now piercing and in training.
Those of you who were around in later Condies days will recall our Graffiti Ceiling, the most interesting ceiling in town with a few R rated comments from clients and ourselves.
So as happens Condies arcade flooded several times in the years that we were in residence, some of these were only days apart from each other, waist height, roof height it didn’t really matter even ankle deep was too much water and involved the studio being cleared out of all items, furniture, jewellery, equipment and stock, designs off the walls, this was never a small task and would involve us all working flat out to achieve. A lot of times without any power, which in the Condies shop meant pitch black. Although you could walk from Mary st to Nash via Condies, we had not one window.
Such a stressful experience, will we flood or won’t we, should we start packing or not, arrrrgh remember it well. Sometimes starting to pack and move stuff and nothing happened but you just never knew.
Caz had been a member of the PTAA ‘Professional Tattooing Association of Australia’ since 2003, The PTAA is an Artists only association, so you were required to be a Tattooist and also to be recommended by peers in the Tattoo industry to become a member. The PTAA held 2–3 day Tattoo conventions Australia wide, every year was a new destination, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Townsville. This was an exciting time, meeting Tattooists their partners and clients from all over Australia and Overseas. With live Tattooing stalls, Tattoo competitions, talking all things tattoo, techniques, tools and the social aspect, meeting and partying always with copious amounts of liquid, a few hangovers had and many lifetime friendships formed. Caz held the position of Queensland representative of the PTAA for many years, this being quite the honour, being nominated and then voted on by other members.
This however also involved a bit of time-consuming work, phone calls, paperwork, holding meetings and hosting Tattoo shows in Brisbane at the Jubilee Hotel. A book could be written on these events alone.
Caz is still a member of the PTAA and the ATG Australian Tattooists Guild.
With being in attendance at many Shows over the years trophies were won, for Tattoos that had been done by us and work we ourselves had on our body’s.
Eammon was to win many, even receiving a congratulatory letter from our mayor at one time, a letter I still have. Many articles have been printed about CT over the years we have been featured in newspapers, magazines, too many to recount here with the last article being a 4-page spread in Live to Ride, it is always exciting and humbling to be acknowledged.
Directly after the 2013 Floods we made the decision to move to the location you find us in today, situated in another Arcade higher up the street. This move itself took several months, with plumbing, painting, polished concrete floor, and all the elements we needed to be up and running again.
Our latest move was a great decision having doubled our floor space and now with the bonus of a lunch room, we felt very spoilt, anyone who remembers the Condies days would maybe recall us sitting outside to eat our lunch, on the steps and I do think at some stage we had a small table and chairs which occasionally the younger more mischievous ones would reposition to the carpark out the back.
Tattoo licensing was introduced which involved all of us having to be finger and palm printed, criminal checks including our associations, landlords, personal history. This was quite a stressful time for the whole industry as we were put in the same container as Bike clubs. It took the Office of Fair Trading a while to process everyone’s applications so there was a moment in time of uncertainty for us all, even those who knew they had nothing to hide. This licencing also involved a fee to be paid, which is now yearly.
The higher cost being for the owner of the studio. This saw the end of Rainbow beach for CT as paying 2 lots of fees was just not possible. It wasn’t long after this Eammon moved to Brisbane, he had been wanting to branch out for ages and now was the time. We were very sad to see him leave but at least he hadn’t gone to far away. He is still Tattooing and doing beautiful work at Shinko in Albion.
One of our saddest moments in the history of CT, was the passing of Kevin, Kevin had previously done a little bit of Tattooing when he came to us, but still needed training, I have never met a more driven young man, he would work till midnight, if need be, you want a tattoo at 5am no probs, his dedication was unstoppable. It was hard not to laugh when he was around, having such an awesome sense of humour. Kevin is still very much missed and we have a memorial for him on the wall which contains original items of his.
I have been asked over the years, ‘How many Tattoo / piercings would you do a week’ it’s funny how curious people are about this and I always say the same thing, It is impossible to answer as no two weeks are the same, it is not like a normal business that you may be able to gauge as we have different clients, different designs, differing in sizes.
Have seen so many changes over these 20 years, changes in styles with fads coming and going, equipment and machine advances, popularity and amount of Tattooists and studios popping up everywhere, gone are the days of just picking a flash off the wall and if you were real fancy you may even blend a few of them together to have a unique design, now everyone is having one offs drawn up and Tattoos have evolved to a more realistic look as opposed to the outline that is shaded and or coloured in.(although that still is done with traditional) Some designs seem to be timeless (cursive font) whereas others come and go (southern cross, now there was a fad, everyone wanted one)
Tattooing is an extremely interesting profession where it is expected and not unusual to research about many different things, real and fantasy, investigating is a part of the design process which in turn educates on many varied subject matters. Symbols, flowers, animals, history, magic, mythical creatures, skulls, skeletons, cartoons, cars, bikes, buildings, people, font styles, mandala and cursive flows, you name it, whatever a client has in their imagination, on a daily basis it is never dull or boring. Everyone has their own personal reasons for getting a Tattoo, memorial, children’s names, dates, the… just cause, some even view it as a form of therapy which I understand totally.
20 years, wow, thank you to all who have been a part of this journey, what a wild ride it is and has been. I, Caz, have had the privilege to Tattoo and Pierce the children of original clients from 20 odd years ago who are now old enough to get their own.
It is you the customer, the one who loves Tattoos, loves piercings that has supported Tattooing and our studio Cooloola Tattoo all this time.
We appreciate you all.
Soooooooo who wants a Tattoo….. Piercing anyone… see you soon
Article, Written by Caz, Owner of Cooloola Tattoo
18-4-2002 to ………….
Xmas Gathering. 2019. Rainbow Beach.
From L – R Tytan, Millie & Josh, Joe Panda & Jess, Caz & Brent.
CAZ TATTOOING KYLIE & PETA, MEMORIAL GUMNUTS FOR KEVIN.
SUNFLOWER TATTOO BY JOSH ON TONI – KEVINS MUM.
STUDIO XMAS GATHERING 2016
L-R Jess & Eammon, Carley, Josh, Kevin, Caz & Brent.
KEVIN JOHN ALLEN REST IN PEACE 16-11-2017
Caz Various magazines and Personal Pix 87 – 97
Caz, Various From Mags and Personal Pix 87 – 97