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Flawless Black and Grey Realism by Chris Mata'afa

Flawless Black and Grey Realism by Chris Mata'afa
Tattoo Artists1 min Read

Chris Mata'afa's realism knows no bounds, and his mastery of this difficult style is fantastic.

There are lots of great tattooists operating in Australia these days, many of whom are making names for themselves for their realistic body art. One such artist is Chris "Showstopper" Mata'afa, and as his nickname implies, his work is truly showstopping. He is a black and grey virtuoso that excels at translating the real world into quality tattoos. The imagery he creates is incredibly true to life. In both a figurative and literal sense, his body art lives on his clients' skin. 

A gorgeous lady by Chris Mata'afa (IG—chris_showstoppr). #blackandgrey #ChrisMataafa #lady #realism
Buddha by Chris Mata'afa just chilling on this guy's back (IG—chris_showstoppr). #blackandgrey #Buddha #ChrisMataafa #realism

While some artists who work in realism like to keep their tattoos soft and others dabble on the darker side of the style, Mata'afa likes to have his cake and eat it, too. His portfolio features both velvety and airy pieces as well as more shadowy ones. His mastery over the dynamics of black and grey body art allows him to create amazing effects in his tattoos. Through careful contrasting, he is able to capture the semblance of real-life phenomena such as light falling across figures, ripples in water, smoke rising through the air, and more, giving his pieces a rather magical presence on their collectors' bodies.  

Dumbledore from Harry Potter by Chris Mata'afa (IG—chris_showstoppr). #blackandgrey #ChrisMataafa #Dumbledore #realism
A majestic tiger via Chris Mata'afa (IG—chris_showstoppr). #blackandgrey #ChrisMataafa #realism #tiger
One of Chris Mata'afa's more surreal pieces (IG—chris_showstoppr). #blackandgrey #ChrisMataafa #lady #realism #skull #surreal

Mata'afa illustrates a wide variety of subjects, ranging from picture-perfect portraiture to more surreal material. He's done tattoos of beautiful women, wild animals, religious figures, and the list goes on. There are quite a few celebrity portraits, like the one of Dumbledore played by Michael Gambon, in his portfolio as well. He also makes statuesque pieces that have a remarkable aesthetic of antiquity to them. Some of his best tattoos draw from religious source material as well. His depictions of Buddha, lifelike or sculptural, are nirvana inducing. 

A statuesque tattoo by Chris Mata'afa (IG—chris_showstoppr). #blackandgrey #ChrisMataafa #realism #statue
A sculpture of Buddha by Chris Mata'afa (IG—chris_showstoppr). #blackandgrey #Buddha #ChrisMataafa #realism

Should you want to see more of Mata'afa's exquisite black and grey realism, pay a visit to his Instagram. He works at Royal Tattoo Studio in Sydney, Australia and can be reached at for inquiries, but his books are closed until further notice, so you may have to wait a while before getting a tattoo from him. 

Ross Howerton
Written byRoss Howerton

BA in Literary Studies from The New School. MFA in Creative Writing from NMSU. Staff Writer for Tattoodo. I love art, books, movies, music, and video games. Hit me up on Twitter @Powertonium