Dustin Martin‘s greyscale tattoos are probably the most iconic ones out on the green grasses of the MCG at the moment, from the script on his neck, to the jobstoppers on both hands, right down to the clown portraits and the hand of four aces on his shins. Dusty sits atop the table of “most recognisable tattoos in the AFL” with Essendon‘s Jake Stringer hot on his heels with that god-awful stomach lion and chest bird combo.
Dusty, the boy from Castlemaine, has got some serious ink and in PEDESTRIAN.TV‘s latest episode of our AFL podcast Balls Up, we decided to quiz the Richmond champion on his body of work.
Did this involve looking at a bunch of photos of Dusty in his jocks for the new Bonds campaign to examine his tattoos? Yes, and I don’t regret a single second of it. Moving on.
First of all, Dustin put to bed the rumour that his neck was the first piece of work that he had done under the needle – and I maintain that no good artist would EVER tattoo someone’s neck for their first. His stomach was the one that began the itch, way back when he was 16 years old. Interestingly, his stomach is a space where he’s still got a lot of real estate and blank skin, after focusing more on his arms and legs in the following decade.
I think I got one on my stomach when I was about 16. Yeah so that was a while ago. That [neck tattoo] was actually my second one… I thought it would look cool at the time, so I just went and got it done.
Dustin’s tattoos are heavily inspired by Chicano-style blackwork – which typically depicts imagery like clowns and masks, weapons, money, women, and elaborate script – and credits US artist Boog Star as one of the main people he looks to when figuring out new work he wants to be done.
Dustin’s current Australian artist is Arn Lyons who works out of Oculus Tattoo in Thornbury and Collingwood, specialising in using tonal shading to bring grey and black tattoos to life. His approach to getting work done absolutely terrified me as a person who spent most of her 2017 planning and organising a large tattoo. Nope, none of that for Dustin – he just walks into Lyons’ studio and picks out a design on the day.
I’ve got a lot of trust in him… I literally walk in there not knowing what I’m getting and I just go “yeah, that’ll do” – there’s no planning that goes into it. He [Arn] texts me saying “what are we doing tomorrow?” if I’m booked in and I just go “I dunno, I’ll come in and we’ll figure it out.” Yeah I just go in there and pick something out and he whacks it on.
That’s fine. I’m fine. I’m definitely not stressing out on Dustin’s behalf here at ALL.
Despite getting that itch of wanting a new tattoo, Dustin tells us that he’s not great with the pain, and can only sit in the studio under the needle for a couple of hours at a time. Considering how much work he’s had done, I’m guessing we’re looking at enough hours to fill a couple of solid days that he’s spent in the chair since he was 16.
Two hours is my limit, I can’t sit any longer than two hours. I’m a bit of a chicken. I swear every tattoo that I get lately, the pain just gets worse and worse.
Dustin tells us that no, he doesn’t have a 2017 Richmond Premiers tattoo, simply because he was “having too much fun” directly after the big game last September (I assume his blood would have been too thin for about a month after the fact), but his favourite tattoos are the jobstoppers on the backs of his hands.
It was just too hectic after the Grand Final, with all the celebrations and everything, I didn’t have time. I was having too much fun.
We spent a solid half hour with Dustin on the blower, where we chatted about his jocks, his lucky game day socks, and his tattoos. It all kicks in at the 50-minute mark, so get around it below and subscribe to Balls Up on iTunes HERE.Image: Getty Images / Adam Trafford / AFL Media