Travis Audubon eyes bird tattoos for community engagement

Bird-inspired tattoos like this one could win prizes from Travis Audubon. Photo courtesy of Rachael Teague.


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Travis Audubon is hosting its first-ever bird tattoo contest, called “Avian Ink.” Jordan Price, Director of Administration and Membership for Travis Audubon, says he came up with the idea after seeing a “phenomenal” bird tattoo.

Tattoos on display are common around here. Jordan says, “Austin’s an amazing city, and people who have tattoos here are very proud of their tattoos. You can go to the grocery store, you can go to the bank, you can go to the hospital…there are tattoos everywhere.”

One of the prizes of the contest is a $100 gift certificate to Shanghai Kate’s Tattoos on Guadalupe. Owner Kate Hellenbrand is an internationally famous tattoo artist. She’s tattooed Howard Stern, Casey Affleck and members of Pearl Jam. She says birds are a pretty common motif in the tattoo world, as they can represent freedom and power. She has a bird tattoo herself covering most of her right arm, a flamingo. She likes it because it’s a species known to dance, and because its scientific name indicates “one that rises from the ashes.”

The contest is for all bird-inspired tattoos, not just images of birds. Travis Audubon is also accepting fantasy creatures that are based on birds and even bird wording or bird-based poems. Jordan says one of the most fanciful submissions he’s gotten so far included an octopus/peacock hybrid creature.

The idea behind the tattoo can be more serious, too. A woman has submitted a tattoo drawn by her husband, shortly before he passed.

So far, the campaign is more successful than Jordan anticipated. Travis Audubon has received more than 60 submissions, and word is traveling fast through social media. The group has gotten submissions from tattoo parlors and tattoo artists, as well as the people who are inked. There has been enough interest this year to guarantee that it will become an annual contest.

The prizes are based on the best photo and explanation, but Jordan and a team of judges are going to iron out the final criteria before the Avian Ink party at Haymaker on Aug. 27. Participants who submit photos must be able to attend this party in order to be considered, so the contest only includes local participants. In addition to a gift certificate from Kate, three memberships to Travis Audubon are up for grabs.

Turn in your name, email address, phone number, a photograph of the tattoo, and a tattoo description to membership@travisaudubon.org. Multiple submissions are allowed. All entries must be submitted by midnight on Monday, Aug. 22.

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