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Kiwi tattooist leaves his mark on US reality show

Tuesday 12 Jan 2010 10:32 p.m.

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By Ali Ikram

A New Zealand tattooist is carving out a successful career in Los Angeles. Just five years after moving to the US, he's starring in a reality TV show putting his mark on celebrities, and will soon tattoo a punk icon.

Dan Smith is back briefly where it all started, Sacred Tattoo on Auckland's Karangahape Rd.

"Getting your first tattoo is a huge part of your life, and tattooers say you either get one or heaps," he says.

For the 29-year-old Smith it was the latter - now it has landed him a starring role in Discovery Channel series LA Ink.

Smith is the fresh-faced, sensitive Kiwi at home inking up truckers and breast cancer survivors alike.

He infamously gave Pete Wentz a tattoo after the Fall Out Boy bassist lost a bet with the lead singer of Cobra Starship.

"The condition was that if Cobra Starship sold so many records, Pete would get Gabe's face tattooed on him," says Smith. "Pete wasn't sure it was going to happen, so he made a pretty bold bet, and of course it happened."

It was all done backstage at a gig.

When he's not working at High Voltage Tattoo in Hollywood, Smith - or 'Dan Under' as he's also known - is touring with his band the Dear and Departed.

But on returning to LA he will be putting his mark on a punk icon - Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones.

"One of my memories of growing up is my dad giving me the Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks record, and me just going, 'Wow, this is awesome,' and now 15 years later I'm tattooing the guitarist who wrote all those songs. It's pretty cool."

Normally working on famous people isn't a big deal in Hollywood he says, but that will be something special.

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