Customer of the Week: Little Tokyo
After watching some of the greats, filling his body with tattoos, and travelling throughout Europe and Asia, Rhys Gordon was finally ready to become a businessman. This Melbourne-born tattoo artist has made it his livelihood to tell stories with ink and a needle. Meet our latest Customer of the Week, Little Tokyo.
Rhys was 15 when he got his first tattoo. He instantly became addicted to the entire experience.
“The sound, the smell, the atmosphere of tattoo shops had me hooked.”
Rhys admits that tattooing has come a long way since the 90s. At that time, he says most tattoos were worn by outsiders, sailors or crooks. Now, it’s a respected art form.
Over time, Rhys began to hone his skills. Part of his studies included being tattooed! He sports ink by some of the leading artists of the time such as Little Mick, Paul Braniff and Trevor McStay. Instead of asking questions, he simply watched and absorbed everything he could from these experiences.
After watching some of the best in the industry, Rhys became particularly fascinated with Japanese tattooing.
“Japanese art is where my heart is at. It possesses a certain power, clarity and longevity.”
When one of Rhys’s favourite artists, Paul Jefferies of Smiling Buddha, visited Australia to work with famous Aussie tattooist Trevor McStay, Rhys quickly booked an appointment to have a dragon tattooed on his thigh. It proved to be the start of a new mentorship.
“Trevor tattooed me over time, adding new pieces to my arms and kindly reworking some older tattoos. He took an interest in me, supporting me along the way.”
Rhys and Trevor have maintained their friendship over the years. In 2009, Trevor tattooed a black dragon on Rhys’s back, completing his bodysuit.
After travelling extensively through Europe and Asia (filling two passports!), Rhys decided to open his own studio. He wanted it to honour the traditions and techniques of the best studios he’d seen.
“I took the best bits from all the studios I have worked in and tried to roll them all into one.”
Little Tokyo has a focus on Japanese and Eastern-based tattoo designs, but every staff member brings their own flair to the business. The variety in style makes it that much more special.
Rhys and his five-strong team all bring their own unique experience to the Little Tokyo, and this diversity allows them to cater to a much wider market.
True artists, Rhys and his team tattoo for the love of it.
“I love being able to create an environment for artists and customers to enjoy. I don’t want to worry about chasing profit margins or using cheaper suppliers, so I only use the best gear and work with the best people.”
Although the business is thriving, tattooing is much more than a business for Rhys and his team. Through his art, Rhys has travelled, met inspirational people and friends, and been able to live a life doing what he loves.
“I’m more excited now, after 25 years, than ever before. I still have a long way to go and am so grateful to tattooing for this life.”
Rhys continues to share stories through his art, learning and growing with each new tattoo given and received.