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Naith Morrow inside Absolution Tattoo

Naith Morrow

We caught up with Absolution's owner and artist, Naith Morrow, to learn more about this Christchurch tattoo/piercing studio and art gallery rolled into one.

Interview by: Olivia Sisson
Photos by: Nancy Zhou

Whether you’re into tattooing or not, it’s likely that Absolution Tattoo and Body Piercing has caught your eye before at the Christchurch Arts Centre.

Nestled within the iconic heritage complex, Absolution is a tattoo studio that focuses on the medium’s artistry and design elements with a dash of humor, too. They also do body piercings, in fact they started with that back in 1996. The unique fit out is hard to miss and their open door beckons regulars and passerby in seven days a week.

Appointments are confirmed via automated text, simply reply STAB ME to confirm and you’re away. We caught up with owner and artist, Naith, to learn more about this tattoo/piercing studio and art gallery rolled into one.

I noticed that your booking system even uses a bit of humor - is that part of your approach? 

I try and keep things a bit funny, yeah. Humor is kind of a default to my persona. I like to take the piss and humour often diffuses fear. If people are apprehensive about the tattooing process, that fear just kind of melts away. Most people find that STAB ME quip funny but a few don’t. It does weed people out though.

How did you get into the business?

I studied architecture for about five minutes and then discovered tattooing. I’d always enjoyed drawing and got a few tattoos of my own. A couple of years after that I got my foot in the door with an apprenticeship in Christchurch.

There are a few trades, like chiropracting for example, that sound hard to ‘practice’. What does tattoo practice look like?

It looks like my lower leg and my good friends! There’s no shortage of people that want free tattoos. It’s actually a bit worrying.

What’d you get up to in lockdown? 

It was a really nice capsule of time for me. I worked on these polka dots I have on my arm. My wife did the ones I couldn't reach. She’s not a tattoo artist but she is eager and creative. We just hung out, did some home improvements and did our part to support local by drinking a lot of Bone Line pinot.

Have people been coming in with new tattoo ideas developed with idle lockdown time?

We generally get a lot of repeat customers and many of them had a lot of time to think about tattoos they wanted over lockdown. We kept in touch with everyone and each of our artists has their own following really. Their clients had time to think about their next tattoos and then the floodgates just opened. People are often apprehensive about their first tattoo but after that they can’t get enough.

What does the tattoo process look like here?

When I set this space up I wanted to keep the focus on the art rather than picking a design out of a book. I wanted Absolution to be an open door, safe studio space as opposed to a tattoo shop. Consults are always free and they are a chance for people to get an idea of the process, to learn about the pre-design and the time and expense. It’s a chance to get to know the artist and to get a sense of the commitment required. Once that’s done you can book in appointments to get started and things start to take shape.

What keeps people coming back for more?

I think the process of choosing to do something and the creative process of working with our artists. Taking that step to permanently change your appearance, it’s a leap of faith and can be really rewarding. Our artists know how to turn people’s ideas into realities, how to incorporate their own personalities into designs in order to create tattoos that both parties are happy with. We’ve always had an open door policy and I think that’s allowed us to grow as we have by helping new people get into the industry and answering questions/giving advice whenever people find themselves in our shop.