We at Inked Australia/NZ have a lot of love for Byron Drechsler. Not only due to his support of the magazine but also due to all the work he has done to grow and support the Australian tattoo industry.
Words by Vanessa Morgan Portrait by Brent Leideritz
Byron, along with business partner Chris Cashmore, has not only developed Inkjeckta but also taken this revolutionary tattoo machine to the world. A machine “built by tattooists for tattooists” that has been proven time and time again to deliver superior quality tattoos.
If you’ve been to a tattoo expo in Australia any time in the past seven or so years then you’ve probably come across the imposing character that is Byron. If you’re lucky you’ve been engulfed in one of the many practical jokes that have taken over a convention, and if you’re blessed he has tattooed you personally or stopped to discuss with you the state of the world as he sees it.
Now he’s found the time to focus on his own convention, 3 Eyes Convention, from the 10-12 February which will see him continue to grow and expand his studio with a mammoth amount of talent found at Frontyard Tattoo Studio in Mount Barker.
Inked: Long time no hassle Byron [laughs]. Let’s start with your latest project,
3 Eyes Convention, in your hometown of Adelaide. Where did the decision come from
to take on such a large event?
Bryon Drechsler: Thanks for the opportunity to answer some of the questions you guys have. The 3 Eyes Convention first came about around four to five years ago when we trialled the format at one of the Sydney expos. The last one Mike [Sedin] held I believe. We held a similar format to the one we are basing 3 Eyes on where we gave away $5000 to one of our sponsored artists in our large booth at that expo. The tattoos done at that show really emphasised how many quality tattoos could be done over a three-day period at a convention. The eventual winner was Jasmin Austin. However the format was slightly different in that each competing artist had to vote for someone else’s tattoo. Jasmin swept the board and dominated that show despite only entering two days of tattoos against many others who had three days worth of work entered. Inevitably the decision to take the event on came in many forms, primarily to bring together the ever-growing network of artists we have supporting our products including those who have sponsored us as well as the loyal users and contributors that helped establish the Inkjecta brand. With the success of the company both in Europe and the US, combined with the homegrown contingent it makes for a large group of incredibly talented artists looking to attend an event that is primarily aimed at the talent it is created for.
And tell us how this differs from other expos?
From the outside looking in I’m not sure there are too many differences. It is a tattoo convention so you will see all the things you are familiar with seeing. I think the underlying difference is the fact that many of the artists attending have not attended tattoo shows for quite some time or not at all. It will bring together a community of artists for many different reasons but primarily they will come to enjoy the atmosphere, the camaraderie and to show support for a convention that encourages artists to meet and socialise with their peers. The elements we’ve added to this show with the team and artist events bring a new twist and a financial recognition to the efforts people make attending such events. Our primary interest is making tattoo machines so supporting those who help us continue to develop products for the industry is the least we can do. To give back to so many people who have been so loyal to our brand. Giving away $40,000 in cash and also many prizes also brings an element not seen before, not only in Australia but globally I believe. We also have a few surprises we won’t reveal until the opening of the show.
We’re obviously going, but for those that haven’t booked yet, why should they be heading down to South Australia in February?
I guess a good start is the convention centre itself. Although still under extensive renovations, it’s a real jewel in the crown of the re-developed foreshore area of the city of Adelaide. It’s a world-class venue overlooking the stunning Adelaide Oval and is within walking distance to the Adelaide Casino, night strip and many restaurants. There is loads of great accommodation all in walking distance and is just 10 minutes from the airport. It’s a very easy city to get around and many day trips are on offer here to suit everyone’s interests. We are creating an event that will bring people back year after year. That comes from experiencing tattoo conventions both here and globally, taking the info our artists provide us and working on that to bring them a memorable experience. In addition it’s also a big opportunity to work alongside or watch some of the most talented artist in the world work and compete at the highest level.
And, of course, your other baby, what’s the latest with Inkjecta? Tell us about the latest machine?
Inkjecta has had its ups and downs over the past 18 months. It has not been made common knowledge but both Chris [Cashmore] and myself almost pulled the pin on Inkjecta on several occasions in that period. It really is a tough gig. So many things tend to go wrong that it puts a lot of pressure on our friendship and most of the time they have little to nothing to do with either of us. The Flite Nano was, let’s say, a real struggle as we went in several new directions with this machine, many of which we had no experience in. With that being said we eventually got the machine to market and have now seen it take of quite well globally. The feedback and response to the machine has been great. We work hard every day to make machines and it definitely makes it worthwhile when we see the tattoos and the personal responses we get from all the artists using them, it really is quite humbling.
And you’ve got new artists signed on to the Inkjecta team?
We are constantly searching for new talent to join us; we sign new artists quite regularly. With so many on board we try to limit it, at the time of writing we still have not shipped out the new machine yet to all our sponsored artists.
What do you look for in signing artists up?
First and foremost good tattoos! There is no secret formula on how we sponsor but it is much more difficult to select artists that stand out these days. I mainly watch social media, people that use our products constantly and hashtag us. That way we get to see the work they are doing with our machines. We attend many tattoo shows and keep a good eye out on people performing well at them and also we get to see the work in the flesh. There are probably more don’t dos than dos though, hashtagging ten machine builders will not get you sponsored. Choose one brand and stick with it. Don’t put 10 companies’ logos on your tattoo posts like its NASCAR. Try to get the best picture of your work you can, invest in a camera, not an iPhone. We have sponsored several artists after only seeing their work in the flesh and had I seen it sooner they would have been approached. So good pictures can make all the difference. We also talk with other artists quite often about someone we are looking at taking on. Generally three or four of our artists will critique someone before we make them an offer. It pays not to be a dickhead either. The honest truth is we get about 30-plus applications a week and I’ve almost never taken any of them on. When we have done so, we have generally had an eye on them for quite some time previously. We also get the artist we sponsor recommend many of the artists we now call ‘family’, the guys that travel the world and become friends with artists from all corners, they know what we require from an artist and they have probably recommended more artists to us than we have found ourselves.
Of course, on top of all this you have your studio – Frontyard?
Yeh, I’m really lucky to have great staff down at the studio. Many of who have been with me for quite some time now. We were lucky enough to have moved into a fabulous 1850 building almost two years ago and we included a small coffee shop and Vape store along with the tattoo studio. It’s on three levels and we fitted it out to match the era of the building. A real must see and it’s definitely going to be an exciting place to be over several weeks around 3 Eyes with so many great artists and friends guesting and visiting the studio prior and post-show. We didn’t hold an opening as we had 3 Eyes on the cards for some time and knew the expo would be a great occasion to have my friends all in town at the same time and come by and see the place. I’m very much looking forward to them coming in and taking a look. I’m very proud of the place and very proud of the crew – they really are a great bunch and unfortunately I probably don’t let them know enough how much I admire and respect all of them. We’re also expanding and looking for a new artist so if anyone is interested, get in touch.
How do you get time to tattoo yourself?
You’re truly amazing in the amount you take on! You put me to shame… [laughs] I’m not sure I know any other way; I’ve always been pretty dedicated to my profession. Too much most likely but it is all I know and I have been blessed to be given many opportunities all derived from the industry that has become my life. The honest truth is I have not tattooed as much as I would have liked over the past few years, however I have recently started taking new clients and recently did a three-day stint at the Melbourne expo doing walk ups, which was really great and I enjoyed tattooing at a show again.
3 Eyes Tattoo Convention
The 3 Eyes Tattoo Convention is a must attend event for both artists and enthusiasts as it is offering $40,000 in cash prizes sponsored by Inkjecta Pneumatix for the Tattoo of the Day contests. As such it has attracted the best of the best artists from all over Australia and around the world.
According to organiser Mike Sedin, many of Australia’s finest artists will be showing off their talents but a huge bonus for this event is the large number of international artists who are coming to Australia for the very first time.
All artists working at the 3 Eyes Tattoo Convention also have a chance to win one of 3 Wacom Graphics Tablets, each valued at over $2,000, in a daily draw plus the opportunity to attend free daily workshops on how these graphics tablets can enhance an artist’s capabilities. The workshops will be presented by Wacom personnel and Aussie artists Dave Olteanu and Brad Bako who use these tablets on a daily basis in their studios.
A full program of entertainment is on offer with the Ladies of Ink Final on the Saturday evening, pole dancing, fire and aerial acts plus the hugely popular Suspension Acts run by Bslice Dotcom and the crew from Transition Tattoo.
Watch this space for an announcement on a big name act to round off the Sunday evening.
Rounding off the attractions are a large number of complementary retail exhibitors with hot clothing and other merchandise on sale.