20, Artist Talk: Stan Lolohea on “Urban Kupesi Tattoos”


After Stan’s studies, he moved in tattooing. He is of Tongan descent, and is quiet a family man. He has in NZ for 22 years now, he hasn’t been to Tongan. He does a lot of images, like Photography. He practices a wide way of style. He has done Tattoos for 3 years. He is influenced by different artists, but he didn’t bring in their work because of their copyrights.

The Problematic term, as a Tongan Tattooist, but Tongan tattooing is more of a mix, motifs, especially Tongans, their influences is by Samoans. He has a renaissance art background, he had done sculptors, which was a big highlight of his work with his religious beliefs. How he depicted religion. Because it was a cool way of doing it, where he has read a lot of tattoo books and magazine. But he doesn’t like it, because it doesn’t get into those expo’s. He doesn’t tattoo, girls because this was an agreement with his wife. There are certain tattoos he wouldn’t do, because it is a bit out there. Pacific styles were apart of his practice, because he works on his own. He tries to cover every style that comes his way. People are passionate about his art, but he has to be discreet about the tattoos he is asked about doing. Like, Mr Cartoon. Most of the people, he does tattoos for are mostly Pacific Islanders, a few European people, the rest were from around this area. Another work from Mr Cartoon, on the left, it is a common feel that people get these. Having two opposite lifestyle merging into one.

His GREY WORK, is highly done by Biker Gangs, which is terrifying. What people want, what they want to identify is a form of identity and the image intervenes  in the process. The relationship you and the world. He did work on The Virgin Mary, to say something about themselves without learning the work was about. Arm, chest, head and legs which is where he works on mostly. In a comic perspective is culture to them, you see this picture and he doesn’t have any culture that is in relation to him or whatever. All the tattoos that Stan projects, is mostly about all his clients coming up with their personal values of someone in their lives who has died. There are some that are sad stories. On one arm, who have a islander side and then the other would have other symbols to relate to themselves. It is apart of your identity, your experience, they follow of what they have learnt throughout their years. It speaks about them, in the ‘here and now’ which this one client of his has a clown with a sad face, and then a clock on his heart. He had regrets, and this one was a league player. He was going through a few struggles where his father was a minster and want the tattoo to the tell a different story about himself. He was getting out there and playing for the likes of his life.

PIN-UP ANGELS, a lot of guys come in and have many desires amongst the American Culture, but they are islanders. They still maintain that level of respect with the females in their families, that is a little respectful so he added some wings, as a joke. He came back a month after and then he added Jesus on it. He started getting into a lot of island tattoos. Two years ago, he worked in a Tattoo shop in Sylvia Park. Another Tattoo artist had told him to do something similar to what he was doing. It was bad advice, but he left anyway. He started doing Maori art, but he did mostly Pacific Art. He did some work for a South African guy where he did a design for him. He was close with his grandfather, both of them passed away, so he did something about that. This is quote a mixture of what he did, after his studies, very sacred.

The Maori motif represents the journey, he took in his life. The weaving represents family, on the map. The spear, Samoan protection, warrior-like. The islands patterns for him, clients want him to just do Tongan designs. People have different identities, it just looks better, the designs are a mixture of Tongan and Samoan ones. Islanders are trying to find new ways, it deepens in your connection to the culture which had the effects, by a mechanical influences. He did one guy, who was Australian that wanted a coconut tree because of his island friends and a stick figure flying down. Another guy who was German, his sister’s boyfriend, he wanted some island tattoos because of his brother-in-law. A friend of his, he went to school together. Wesley College Chapel, its’ a boarding school. A Methodist school, but during the day its’ like any other school. Another islanders in Sydney join those street gangs, Stan has noticed that these people have gang designs, these people were serious. One, had the Sydney Opera House and the Sky Tower.

From the QUESTIONS, Stan charges by piece in NZ, but when he goes to Australia he charges by the hour. Because he gets paid more. He taught himself, when he first started, so he would get someone else to fix up his tattoo. The type of work he wanted to get into, he wanted to be a Curator, between the galleries and then he finished his masters. He went job hunting for a whole year going interviews, that he was qualified but he didn’t have any experience. After he graduated, he wanted to go to Art School, but it didn’t really work out so he started tattooing. He has never used any traditional tools, but he is passionate about it, but he has to feed his family and spend time with his kids. He will have some days, where he would do it. The weirdest piece would mostly be the head, he likes keeping to himself. If any wanted old school patterns, he wouldn’t do those ones that come from other art forms. Because then he will mix it and those black lines, those island styles they have. The teeth, the turtle, the stingray, and many more. He doesn’t have any many to what these patterns actually mean. He works in Mt. Roskill and has worked their for over a year now. He is very successful in his work.


One response »

  1. Hey Burda, you’re doing some good responses. Just make sure you read them through to correct your grammar and spelling as much as you can. Good work though!

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