ARTISTIC BOND: Father and son tattoo artist Zeek, 18, and Oliver Walker, more commonly known as Uncle Sudsy, at Inksane Tattoo Studio.
ARTISTIC BOND: Father and son tattoo artist Zeek, 18, and Oliver Walker, more commonly known as Uncle Sudsy, at Inksane Tattoo Studio. Cordell Richardson

Uncle Sudsy and Zeek: An unmistakable duo

FATHER and son team Oliver and Zeek Walker have a unique bond strengthened with Bart Simpson on a skateboard. It was the tattoo Oliver, more commonly known as 'Uncle Sudsy' gave his 18-year-old son Zeek - and it won't be the last.

The pair are unmistakeably father and son and get to share their passion for unique art when they go to work together at Inksane Tattoo.

Oliver has been a tattoo artist for more than five years but Zeek followed his dad's creative direction last year.

"He had a natural gift and was really clean and sharp. He goes alright," Oliver said. "I always tell him don't ever think you're there and it's a destination, you're always learning and it's a journey. I've learnt from him and he's learnt from me. He's come a long way in a year."

Zeek said their professional relationship was less like father and son and more like mates.

"It's really great to work with Dad every day, we got along really well. I am my father's son. We hang out together and joke together, we're like two kids hanging out," he said.

The industry Zeek works in is a long way from the unregulated art Oliver was introduced to in the 90s. "I have been hanging around in tattoo studios since the mid 90s but a lot of tattoos I had seen and done back then weren't in shops. Mostly criminals were getting them," Oliver said.

Oliver said it was an industry with few official guidelines, but contemporary influences had cleaned it up.

"It's still quite ungoverned because it's not government recognised but to tattoo there are regulations in place. They finger print and palm print you and make sure you're not a bad person. It's definitely safer.

"In the past, the tattooist would be drinking and smoking and you'd have to sit down and shut up, if you complained you'd be kicked out. Now there is more respect for the client but it used to be the other way around. There is also a buzz now, the stigma has dropped and more average people get tattoos. I have tattooed a daughter, mother and grandmother with matching flowers."

Uncle Sudsy: Dad, artist, youth worker and creative

MEET Uncle Sudsy. There is a lot more to the father of three, artist and mentor, also known as Oliver Walker, than meets the eye. He credits his turbulent past with helping to drive his creative direction, and the origins of "Sudsy".

"I started doing graffiti when I was 10 and had been busted and in a lot of trouble. I was tagging a lot and really angry and destructive and I wanted a tag that reflected that," he said.

"Graffiti carried me the last 20 years. I had done all these things in that hip hop graffiti circle and I had go to the top of my game. Maybe I was a little bit bored and needed a new challenge.

"Graffiti artists were quite feared in the 80s and 90s but now it's more bubble gum and poppy. I was thinking about all the abuse and torture I had been through and bad people involved with me."

It was graffiti and Oliver's upbringing that helped create the name Uncle Sudsy.

"I was beat on and one of the things that stuck out was when my hands were held in boiling hot water from the kettle. I would have been maybe 13.

"The pain was that bad I couldn't feel my hands so Sudsy came from that soapy sudsy feeling in the hot water.

"Suds was my tag from then on.

"I did youth work and worked with kids in similar situations, in juvie, and that's where the Uncle part was added. They called me Uncle Sudsy because they could confide in me. It has been a process."



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