Tattoo Artists support Mental Health with Deck Heads Exhibition

Amanda Mckinnon talks about Deck Heads, a visual art collaboration between Black Diamond Tattoo and tattoo artists from across Australia which tackles the stigma of mental health

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Deck Heads
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Published 07 Feb 2019

Combining love of art and culture, over 70 artists have designed and painted a skateboard deck to make up the exhibition in the studio at Port Adelaide. The decks will be auctioned online, with proceeds going to Beyondblue to support the mental health movement.

Beyondblue provide information, support and counselling for all Australians for coping with anxiety, depression and stress. This includes targeted information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the LGBTQI+ community, expectant parents and young people. "For us in particular in the tattoo industry, there are a lot of mental health problems; anxiety, depression, and a higher rate of suicide, so we’re all in some way connected to that cause," says Amanda Mckinnon at Black Diamond Tattoo. "The response from the artists from our call out has justified the need for the exhibition."

The creative team at Black Diamond Tattoo wants to challenge the social stereotypes of tattoo artists and people with tattoos. "It isn’t the case anymore that tattoo artists or people with tattoos are hardcore," says Mckinnon, "tattoos are quite mainstream now and everyone who has a tattoo is just as human as everyone else. We still have emotions and anxiety like everyone else."

The relationship between artist and client is an intimate one. Clients describe personal and often painful experiences in a cathartic conversation with their artist to get the tattoo they want. Sometimes spending six to eight hours together, the role of the artist often blurs the lines between friend and therapist. "There’s a lot of emotion behind getting a tattoo sometimes," Mckinnon states, "people often do it out of emotion. They may have lost someone or they may have found love, but there’s always something behind a piece that someone holds on to.

"Giving people a platform to talk about these things and bring awareness to the help that is available is important," says Mckinnon. "It’s an opportunity to acknowledge that it is prevalent in this industry and that it is important to access the help that is available. Beyondblue do a great job in helping people through some of these mental health issues."

Besides hosting the exhibition throughout the entire Fringe, on February 23 and March 16 the studio will hold tattoo flash day parties with bar facilities, music. There is also an open space for conversations on mental health and support. Deck Heads makes a poignant statement about willingness to change and grow as a culture and as a society.

Black Diamond Tattoo Studio, times vary, 11 Feb-16 Mar, not 17, 24 Feb, 3, 10 Mar, Free.