Artist Collection Winner: Stephen Maddock

Steve Maddock - Ngāti Porou

Drawing and creating is as natural to Steve as taking a breath. Having been raised in Wainuiomata by his parents Joan and David, it seems like being a hands-on artist in the world of tattoo was a natural outlet for his creativity. Joan always tinkered with art and had art supplies for her kids. Both Steve and his brother, Antony (running Smart Arts in Lower Hutt), have followed artistic professions. His sister Monique also was artistic with sewing and craft work as well as supporting her brothers and now caring for their elderly parents. His father was a mechanic and Steve’s patience in his work comes from his Dad’s methodical ways of repairing cars and working in the shed andgarage. 

Tattoo artistry originated from what Steve calls his delinquent youth. Lots of his friends were doing their own tattoos and once they found out how well Steve could draw, they encouraged him to pursue this as a profession. His flatmate at the time, Roger Brown (The Artful Dodger) supported and mentored him on his journey until he opened his first studio Underground Arts in 1994. It was literally underground, which made it cheap but in a prime location at the top of Cuba Mall.

Very quickly Steve saw tattooing for its full potential; as a way that cultures represent themselves in a uniting artform around the world. In 2000 he opened the National Tattoo Museum of New Zealand in his hometown of Wellington, shining a light on the different representations of this type of art from around the world. Sadly, with the influence of Covid, Steve has had to shelve the Museum but hopes to have a virtual option available in the near future. He is now working on his latest project, “The Ultimate Gallery” which when successful will support all his previous creations. The aim is to create a digital space which other artists could also utilise. This project has been a labour of love for the past six years and he and his team are hopeful to launch it as soon as they can. 

His ability to understand the various cultures has people from all walks of life coming to him for their tattoos. Steve is a patient guy, he will create a piece of art for someone, send them home with templates and ask them to consider the size, scale and colour of the work before it goes onto their bodies. He encourages people to use his online templates to get an initial idea, and together they will refine the artwork before putting ink to skin. His studio, Underground Arts, is based in the Wellington CBD, but Steve has worked all over the world creating his art.

Technology has played a big part in the development of Steve’s work. From carrying a pad and pens around with him everywhere he went to learning and utilising an iPad for creating, and then began showcasing his work online. It’s allowed Steve to create totally new concepts and the only limit is his own imagination.

The piece that Steve has created for our Artist Collection is called Whakapapa and recognises the connection of other Māori artists in an online space. He wants your heart to feel full of aroha (love) and connection to Aotearoa NZ when you put these on. 

You can connect with Steve online via his studio website, or his Facebook page. With his latest project in the works, we're sure to see more over on his site TheUltimateGallery in the future. 

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