What’s Hidden?


The art of tattooing has a long and vibrant history that traces back to ancient Asian, European and Polynesian cultures. Today, tattoos can be found in almost every pocket of the world and have become a vehicle of confident self-expression.

According to a 2016 report from Analyse Australia, 19% of Australians have at least one or more tattoos. Out of those Australians, I sat down with Cooper McDaid and Mike Wicks to talk about their own inked skin journey.

Nine years ago, Mike Wicks received his first tattoo of a Chinese dragon that tangles around his left bicep and spreads as far as his back and chest.

“There’s no real meaning behind it, it’s more that I liked the idea for 3 years before I got it and thought, if I still liked it for this long, I’ll like it forever,” Wicks said.

While his first piece didn’t hold significance, the rest of his tattoos hide a powerful story of grief and rebirth. When Mike’s brother, Jeff, tragically drowned in 2014, he used tattooing as a way of dealing with his loss.

“Not long after he passed away I got the tattoo on my ribs, which is apparently one of the worst places to get it but I didn’t feel any pain throughout it all,” Wicks said.

After immortalising his love for his brother, Mike later got a phoenix tattooed on his left forearm as a symbol of overcoming his adversity.

“I was going through a lot of hard times with anxiety and stuff in social situations so it was more just a rising from the ashes type thing,” Mike said.

Cooper McDaid similarly resonated with the phoenix symbolism and had it tattooed on his left forearm, along with a Celtic cross on his wrist.

“Both the men in my family have tattoos so they were a big influence on me getting them,” McDaid said.

“The Celtic cross ties in with my Dad’s tattoos, he has a lot of Celtic knot-works and it just relates to my last name and my heritage.”

After the recent passing of his young niece, the phoenix tattoo held a hidden meaning of persevering strength for Cooper. To give him more strength in hard times, and to finish his half sleeve, McDaid had a hooded guardian angel figure tattooed next to his phoenix.

“I like the idea of hiding meaning in tattoos and not exposing it to many people because you can have a tattoo and it might mean something to you but to the outside world it can look completely different.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s