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Meet the sought-after artists at Sydney's tattoo festival

Spending hundreds of hours decorating people's hands and arms while side by side, tattoo artists Amy Unalome and Eric Gordon's design styles could not be more different.

Normally stationed at Empire Melbourne tattoo studio, the couple are making their mark on Sydney as part of the Australian Tattoo Expo across the weekend.

With up to 14,000 people expected at the expo, the pair will be flat out throughout the weekend, as inspired clients book ahead after seeing their unique designs on social media.

Originally from Britain, Ms Unalome creates her tattoos using a "hand poke" technique - working only by hand, without the help of a machine.

"[This technique] still uses the same equipment, and needles, as machine tattoos, but I use my own hand power," Ms Unalome said.

It's a technique which has only recently become popular in Australia, with clients wanting subtle, delicate designs, dot-work, and fine patterns, she said.


"I pride myself on being able to make my tattoos look like they have been done by a machine ... but they look a lot more delicate because there has not been an impact on the skin," she said.

"Ninety per cent of clients find [hand-poke tattoos] way easier, a lot less painful, more personal and less intimidating, because there is not a noisy machine going at the same time." 

Sitting at the expo beside her partner, the couple's tattoos couldn't be more different, as Mr Gordon uses a machine to create dark, gothic designs.

"My form is very dark, and almost morbid," Mr Gordon said. "I love a lot of horror stuff, and so I use a lot of contrast to make [my artworks] stand out, using a lot of heavy blacks."

His favourite work, a design finished recently, was an original full-back tattoo depicting a "Jack the Ripper theme", which took Mr Gordon "almost a year to complete".

"It [took] about 60 hours or so, with a Jack the Ripper theme. There were demonic images surrounding him, and a cobblestone walkway, so it was a really fun idea," Mr Gordon said.

"My work is quite slow as it is, but that was the biggest project I've done."

His style has attracted clients from around the world, with one man even flying in from Hawaii specifically for the convention to get a tattoo, booking out Mr Gordon's stall from Friday to Sunday.

With plenty of tattoos of their own, the couple have been "collecting" matching tattoos at each convention they attend, as they travel for work across the country each year.

Despite their highly different styles, the couple - who met while training at the same tattoo studio -  help each other "constantly", even testing out new ideas on each other.

"Sometimes when we're bored at work, we tattoo each other," Ms Unalome said.

The Australian Tattoo Expo is on at at the International Convention Centre in Darling Harbour on Saturday and Sunday.