Off the beaten track is Little Tokyo – a tattoo studio owned and operated by Rhys Gordon.
The setting: an inconspicuous building in Bondi Junction, leaving passersby none the wiser to the eco-system above them. Rhys has shunned the showy shop front, instead opting for a discreet entrance leading to his incredible studio.
The artist, who hailed from Melbourne originally, spent many formative years in tattoo studios and residencies around the globe, before settling in Bondi. Rhys’s style of artwork reflects this international influence, especially that of Asia and more specifically, Japan.
While Rhys has undoubtedly crafted a butterfly or dolphin in his time, the artist is now in demand for his full body artworks. The intricacy and detail of his art (as well as a steady hand) make him the go-to guy for tattoo diehards from all around the world.
Rhys gave Campbell & Hall a peek inside the life and times of this incredible studio:
When did you first start tattooing?
I did my first tattoo on myself with some homemade machines at 15. I then started seriously at 16 with a friend of my dad. I would spend all my free time - after school, weekends, school holidays - in the tattoo shop.
What interests you most about tattoo culture?
I am most interested in the Japanese style of tattooing. It is one of the only forms of tattooing with a rich history, which uses the whole body as the canvas.
How do you see tattoo culture evolving in Australia?
It has already evolved beyond my expectations. Other than seeing it continue to improve artistically and fragment into sub-cultures, I am not sure. If you had said I would be working appointment only and focusing on the Japanese style of tattooing 25 years later, I would have thought that impossible. So other than concentrating on my own direction, I’m not sure other than it will always have positive and negative aspects.
When you think Bondi lifestyle, how would you describe it?
Bondi is a lot of different things to a lot of people. To me it is a healthy melting pot of creativity and enthusiasm in such a great location.
What are your go-to summer styles?
Shorts, t-shirt and either trainers or thongs
In Bondi, where do you go for:
Food? Birichina - a small wonder overlooking the beach with a huge local following
Coffee? Lady J – the cafe opposite my studio in the Junction. Amazing chai tea!
Drink? The one and only Stuffed Beaver (on Bondi Road) or the Royal Hotel.
Shop? Bondi Road Art Supply.