Home' In The City : In the City - Spring - 2013 Contents When you first meet Chris and May Rushmer
the obvious first thing to notice is the
prolific collection of body art the couple
share on almost every inch of visible flesh.
But to hear the tattooists talk with such
passion about the artistry of ink makes
you realise that the tattoos you are looking at are in fact
part of living, breathing human canvases dedicated to an
unconventional art form.
"We've travelled the world getting tattooed, mainly in
California," Chris says. "We've done a couple of small
things on each other but being a good custom artist is going
and seeing how other people work."
Since getting their first tattoos the couple has developed
an appreciation for many different styles of tattooing. Now
better educated in the artistry of tattooing, May says her
first tattoo was "an irrational decision".
"I just got these star outlines on my shoulder; they're tiny,"
she says. "A year or two after I got them I started realising
'why did I get stars?'"
Chris says they now choose their body art based on its
artistic value and the skill of the artist rather than any
"I'm not big on the whole Miami Ink 'everything has to have
so much meaning and be really deep' -- I just get shit that
looks cool," he says.
"We're more art collectors. I think the appreciation of good
art got lost a little bit with the reality shows -- that's all they
push. I'd rather see an awesome piece of art then hear
some two-day-long story.
"I just appreciate a really good artist that really knows what
"We're not on this never-ending quest to get the most
tattoos, it just happens. We don't regularly schedule time to
get tattooed," May adds.
"There are a lot of tattoo artists that have no visible tattoos
or some that have zero; it's just a personal preference I
Chris first learnt the tricks of the trade nearly 11 years ago
when he dropped out of high school for an apprenticeship
in a tattoo shop.
"Art was always my calling; it was all I ever did since I was
a little kid. So it was try to become a comic book artist or a
tattoo artist and this came up first," Chris says. "I started at
the bottom in the sludge in Adelaide in some really terrible
"But I didn't really care; I was like 'whatever it takes. I will
just deal with it for now and just push through and get
where I need to be'."
Chris left Adelaide because of the limited opportunities to
further his skills and moved to Canberra in 2004, where he
joined up with a tattoo studio in Queanbeyan.
The following year he moved over to Freestyle Tattoo Studio
in the heart of Canberra's city and it was also the year he
met the woman who would become his wife.
May Rushmer had already developed an interest in tattooing
through a friend in the industry, but it wasn't until she met
Chris that she realised it was something she might pursue
as a career.
"I always wanted to be an art teacher when I grew up
and then I was like 'I don't want to be an art teacher. I
don't want to teach kids. I don't want to be at school'," she
laughs. "Then we met and it just clicked I guess."
The pair dated for about a year before May joined the
Freestyle Tattoo team as an apprentice. By November 2006
they were married and since then they have developed a
reputation as some of the top tattoo artists in the capital
working in custom and specialty tattooing.
They work out of their own space in the studio with May's
apprentice, while another four artists and three apprentices
work in the main room of the Northbourne Avenue studio.
Chris says having a dedicated space allows them to
focus on the time-consuming custom pieces they create.
They've really added their personal style to the space with
paintings, drawings and sculptures sitting alongside stuffed
animals, skeletons and inks of all shades and colours.
Skateboards, cuckoo clocks and ornate mirrors also adorn
the wallpapered walls.
"We just wanted a space we could make our own," Chris
Because they work on some of the more complex or larger
Art was always a calling for husband-and-wife team Chris
and May Rushmer who followed their shared passion into the
world of tattoos and never looked back. BY JONI SCANLON
"We're more art collectors. I
think the appreciation of good
art got lost a little bit with the
reality shows ... I just appreciate
a really good artist that really
knows what they're doing."
Tattoo artists Chris and May Rushmer at their Northbourne Avenue studio.
Links Archive In The City - Winter 2013 In the City - Summer - 2013 Navigation Previous Page Next Page