The clocks have been turned back and with them goes long afternoons in the sun, cool evening beverages and the sweet taste of 9pm sunsets. It’s almost winter, or, as some call it, tattoo season. When better to pick up some art than now, when you can protect your work from the sun and the salt alike while it heals?

Gone are the days where tattoos were solely the domain of crooks, sailors and and bikies. Gone too are the times of ‘tough stickers’ – Vladimir Putin is my pick for scariest human on Earth, and he’s presumably as unblemished as fresh snow.

Tattoo has evolved into a mature artform, with everyone from young professionals through to (probably) your dear old mum getting inked. Maybe with some of that taboo goes a bit of the cool factor, but for those with a love of the art, the success and popularity of tattoo has drive up quality to an unparalleled level.

Fittingly, for the third year running, Sunset Tattoo is holding the Great Auckland Flash Party this weekend, assembling some of the finest contemporary artists in one building, just off K Rd, for two days of nonstop inking.

The premise is simple - choose a piece of flash (pre-designed tattoos) from among several hundred on the wall, have it inked, enjoy. In practice, demand is so high that many of the designs have been claimed already, via pencil tags on wax paper, and the studio expects their biggest crowd yet over the next few days.

It’s not surprising when one considers the line up. Auckland icons like Capilli Tupou of Ten Tigers, a number of Sunset’s in-house staff, and even Dean Sacred of Sacred Tattoo are joined by artists from as far abroad as Spain and Japan. Designs cover almost every genre of the art form, from traditional Sailor Jerry style pieces through Japanese, neo-traditional and even photorealism - who wouldn’t want a sneaky little Marilyn Monroe for when things are starting to look ugly?

Many of the artists have waiting lists of up to a year, and their work commands significant fees. But for just two days, everything is priced at one-off rates between one and three hundred dollars. And in true flash party spirit, appointments are strictly reserved to walk-in’s, meaning the only way to secure a spot is to show up. Fortunately, as is apparent even from Sunset’s vivid yellow facade, there’s plenty to look at while you wait. I’ll see you there.