It’s rare to find Samoan tattoo artists in Australia. I’m not a Samoan tattoo artist, but I could be, in the future. I just think tattoos are cool.
The tattoo community seems very focused on the South Pacific. I know you’ve got your own collection. What’s the history behind that?
The Samoan people in Australia was almost like the people in the original Polynesian islands, so there have been many settlers here. The story for Samoan was to get rid of the English settlers by taking away their land. The British colonised Samoa at first by seizing control of the islands and then by taking away the people and making them into slaves.
That’s part of the story. But then in the 70s of course, with the release of The Godfather and other films of that era, they got a lot of interest and came out saying no more enslaves, get rid of this. So it’s just been a long story in Australia.
That’s very interesting. How does the concept of “black” or “Samoan” shape your designs?
I think that’s a really interesting one because we’ve been around a long time. We were first established to be an authentic Samoan art form called “Bhiti.” That really gave me the idea that it was black. I was actually taught that at school. I’m not really sure about it being a culture or a people. It may have been indigenous to the south Pacific but it doesn’t exist now.
Why did you decide to name your tattooing studio a “sabo?”
It’s a cool word! A lot of my friends have Samoan names, so just from that one thing, it became my name. I was inspired by that and really loved every minute of it. It was something that I loved and wanted to do and that I still had the passion to do.
What’s it like learning that in Samoan you can call anyone “white” or “Samoa-like”?
I get it a lot of times. I know who Samoan is and who it is in terms of the language, but there are Samoans with very white teeth. You have a lot of people in the tattoo community that do it like that. I get like three different people call me “white” in a week! Like every week I would get it and the next week a little less.
Is that something you can talk
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