More than 8000 people from all walks of life attended the International Tattoo and Art Expo at Claudelands Events Centre in Hamilton.

Visitors included almost everyone, from women and children, to gruff, heavily tattooed men, to young lasses in obscure garb – they all united in Hamilton in appreciation of art.

Frankie J, left, tattoos Cassie Law, with friend Jolene Tempest providing support, at the International Tattoo and Art Expo at the Claudelands Events Centre in Hamilton

Dozens of people lay, baring their skin, as tattooists from around the world created art on their bodies.Winner of the “Miss Tattoo competition”was  Cassie Law, 23, from Christchurch had booked in time with her regular tattooist, Frankie J, at the expo. She was laying on her stomach as a picture of a little girl was tattooed on her calf.

Adam Mattingley, who was part-way through having three skulls tattooed on the side of his head. He said the pain wasn’t too bad compared to getting the tattoos he already had on his arms and legs.

Event organiser Chris Preece enthusiastically observed that the mood over the weekend was “pretty electric”.

“It’s the one thing I really enjoy about it – just the energy levels of everyone. It really is like a close-knit community.”

Having the mixed martial arts event, bands including I am Giant and Tiki Taane, and twice as many artists as last year, had boosted numbers exponentially.

One of this year’s main attractions was a Sydney-based artist who paints detailed pictures using only his own blood. He extracts it every few months with the help of a pathologist friend and stores it in a fridge.

Dr Rev said his idea started as a gimmick, but now he was hooked on it.

“I get a real kick out of it. In the beginning, the first time I did it, years ago, it was just a weird idea.

“I was having a blood test and I was in a loopy mood so I thought `well, let’s do something to freak out my missus, freak out my mates.And did this little tiny painting and there was no turning back. Nothing comes close to painting with blood.”