Rest in Peace, Brad.

Brad Coleman, tattoo artist, friend, crazy dreamer, died this month. This is my little thank you note to him for sharing a part of his journey with me.

I wrote the below tribute to Brad in the first few days about learning of his death. If you’ve found it because you were wondering what happened to The Ink Pit in Adelaide, because you were an acquaintance, or you were lucky enough to be tattooed by the award-winning tattoo artist himself, then I’m sorry you have to find out this way: Brad Coleman died in 2017.

Because of when the tribute was written, I was kinda mad about how he’d treated himself, and you can feel it in the writing. It’s probably unfair to focus on his enjoyment of the banned substance; he was a remarkable, sharp-witted, talented man, and it was an absolute pleasure to have known him. I am so happy to have met him and spent time with him when I did.

It sucks that he never got the hear the latest Queensryche or the Darkness albums, because he loved them both. And it’s a shame that he won’t be able to come with us to see Whitesnake next year, especially because he nicknamed one of his last lady friends in Adelaide (not when she was around, obviously) Dave Coverdale. Haha! Missed shit-giving opportunity!

I thought about editing what I had originally written. But I have decided not to. Because that was the space I was in at the time.

So if YOU are a friend or former client of Brad’s, welcome. Leave a comment at the bottom. I’m sorry you had to find out this way.

xx Leticia

The original post:

This month a good friend of ours died.  Brad Coleman was a crazy artist, who earned a living by tattooing people, never had a boss, was perpetually curious, always positive, never-endingly creative. And when he died, I realised that he’d played a big part in shaping how I see the world, even though I only knew him for a brief period of time (fewer than 10 years).

Brad was never destined to see 50. He had a lifetime of drug use, mostly speed or meth. He was the party guy. He wasn’t known for his sobriety. If Brad had stopped taking drugs for good, Hell would have iced over. It’s just who he was.

The best example of this was a few years ago, after my husband’s birthday dinner where we’d gone out for suckling pig with a bunch of people. Brad and his wife (at the time) were among them. We had planned to hang out afterwards, but he decided to go out in town (which largely meant to go and score). They’d left their car at our place.

It stayed there for two or three days. We didn’t hear from them nearly the entire time. Eventually they came back and rescued their car at the end of a days’-long bender and went home. But that gives you a sense of scale. Going to their house on a Friday night meant days and nights of drink, food, and fun, literally, right through to Sunday night or Monday (if you pulled a sickie). He never worried about bosses. He never had one. His place was like a time warp: Time didn’t matter. You were in this bacchanalian grotto of amazing food and great people, with a pool and a spa, and as much space to sprawl and chill out as you wanted. Where the only thing that mattered was enjoying yourself. It was amazing. And, to the diligent, dangerous! Ha!

I met Brad through my husband, who has been friends with Brad for much of his life. Brad was Troy’s tattoo artist, they’d been in bands together. I met Brad at a crazy time of my life, one in which I was rediscovering who I was and how cool people really are when you just let them be who they are. I found myself around people for whom drugs weren’t taboo, they were a choice. By far the majority of people choose not to take them to excess.

Brad was perpetually in a good mood, drugs notwithstanding. He was infectiously positive. It was rare that you’d catch him shitty or dark, unless he was coming down. I never saw much of that side of him, though many others have, my husband included. The side I most often saw of Brad was the fun, drunk or high, ideas guy. He was insanely creative, told crazy (and sometimes just terrible) jokes, didn’t really have any barriers, and was perpetually trying to get into my pants. He liked to joke about having a Ranga Reserve, where redheaded ladies (like yours truly) could swing free for his entertainment. Ha!

After a marriage breakup and some relationship and actually really horrible life disasters, amongst all of which he lost or sold most of his stuff, Brad moved home to Townsville. He was really unwell for about 14 months, which we heard through the grapevine later was a result of septicaemia as a result of drug use.

The last we heard from him was two days before he died. He said he’d had heart surgery(!), but got no clarity from him about that disclosure. He told us he missed us.

And then he died.

Troy always joked that Brad would die before he finished his tattoo. I don’t think any of us seriously thought that it would be the case. It was.

I hope Brad knew how much he was loved. When he died, we were scratching for information about where to send tributes, how to get together for memorials. It’s surprisingly difficult to reconnect, to learn about people, to find out what’s going on, when you’re as far apart as Townsville and Adelaide. I heard that there’s going to be a memorial for him here, just for friends, but who knows whether it will happen.

Thank you, Brad, for sharing part of your journey with me. Thank you for being an insightful, artistic genius. And thank you for your insane humour. You taught me a lot about how to be a grownup without losing my inner child, and as a business owner were the total opposite of everyone ever put on a pedestal.

Brad’s funeral is at Morley’s Funerals in Townsville on Friday 12 May 2018, at 10 am.
If you were friends with him and want to send tributes, send it to Morley’s Funerals before 8 am.

The people you love are more important than anything else in your life. Because even if you do build an insane business, serve lots of people, or acquire a billion things, at the last moment only love matters.

Also, to anyone else out there reading this: Doing drugs or drinking every day will kill you young. It’s just a thing. If you need help getting clean, ask for it. But know that you have to want to be clean, more than you want the substance. Otherwise, any rehabilitation effort will be a waste of your time.

16 thoughts on “Rest in Peace, Brad.

  1. I knew Brad as a primary school friend and lost contact after that. He grew up around the corner from me. He taught me drums, how to ride a motorbike and how to set up a Commodore 64. We hung out like kid pirates and he was by far the coolest kid in school. We went to different high schools and lost touch. The first time I kissed a girl was at the first party I went to to without parents around – at Brad’s. While it is sad to know he died, it is great that from all the comments here that the plucky kid stayed cool and free from the boring norms during his life. I often revisit the old neighbourhood when I go home to Townsville. I’ll drive past Brad’s old place and give him a toast. Thank you for this blog.

    1. You’re welcome, Adam! I think Brad was one of the coolest people I’ve ever known; I love learning that he was like that as a kid too! Thanks for leaving a comment. 🙂

  2. R.I.P mate many hours spent in the chair talking shit to each other ‘your jokes were lame as fuk lol’ but you were a fukn top bloke and will be truly missed ? can’t believe it took me this long to find out ?

  3. Enjoyed life the way he wanted, Play & Party hard, Brilliant Artist put some hrs in on me yrs ago, Some permanent Memoriabilia / History to have for sure!!

  4. I’ve only just heard that Brad passed away. I met him when he and his girlfriend at the time moved to Adelaide from Townsville when he was 18 and they lived with our family for a few months while they got their business off the ground. My children absolutely adored them and they became like family to me. I remember when their first studio in Christies Beach was ram raided and most of their clothing stock and jewelry was stolen. They were devastated but it only made them more determined to come back bigger and better. They had amazing dedication to their art at such a young age and I loved them both.

    I have fond memories of hanging out at their place playing pinball and pool, and laughing till we cried. When my marriage ended he and his wife helped our children cope by inviting them over to hang out, watching movies and being like a big brother and sister to them. I’ll be eternally grateful to them for that.

    I knew his father brother Dave had heart conditions which took their lives, and was wondering if this contributed to Brad’s death as well. It’s so sad to hear that drugs consumed his life the way they did. What a waste of a beautiful soul. RIP old friend.

  5. I just learnt of Brad’s passing, I hadn’t seen him in year’s , he achieved so much from the early days with the pub bands in Townsville, that’s the Brad rad I remember R I P

  6. I just learnt of Brad’s passing, I hadn’t seen him in year’s , he achieved so much from the early days with the pub bands in Townsville, that’s the brad I remember R I P

  7. I’ve just learnt of Brad’s passing, sorry to hear, I met him through his late brother Dave, he was 16 at the time Brad was always the lady killer, loved his music and his drum kit,it’s a shame it isn’t here anymore

  8. I was just discussing what ever happened to Brad after the Ink Pit closed and found this article. I’m just another of Brad’s customers who he made feel like one of his closest friends while being tattooed. I shall never forget listening to loud 80’s metal while watching Brad work on my back via a video he had set up. It was amazing watching him perform his art. Not sure what to say except Brad literally left his mark on me.

    1. Hey Jason,
      Brad was an artist, that’s for sure! I bet the work he did for you was amazing. How awesome that he rigged up a video for you!!
      Cheers
      Leticia

  9. I just found this article. I’m Brad’s favorite niece. Although a lot of your article is true, there’s a fair bit that isn’t as it hasn’t always been what you have written and the addiction came later in life and what he died from isn’t.
    Uncle Brad passed away in his sleep from a blood clot to the heart. He had open heart surgery 2 months prior for a valve replacement and died from the above complications. Heart problems run in our family and unfortunately like his father and my own (his brother) he succumbed to it at a young age also.

    I’m glad you had the opportunity to have Uncle Brad in your life.

    1. Thanks for leaving a comment, Melissa. It’s interesting how people know others differently, esp friends vs family; I only wrote my experience of being around and with Brad, and how we experienced the end of his life (which is clearly different to yours). I’m glad you had him in your life, too, mate. He was a special dude.

  10. Wow! I went to go to the Ink Pit the other week and saw it wasn’t there anymore. Found this post while googling to see if they had just moved shop. I have a couple tattoos done by Brad and it was one of the best sittings I have ever had. The laughs and conversation just never stopped!
    The last couple of times I got tattooed by Leigh. Do you happen to know if he has gone to another shop?

  11. RIP Brad Coleman, Sadly we didn’t even know you had passed. A brilliant artist and long time colleague in the Adelaide Tattoo Industry. Mike and Morag Draper, The Tattoo Gallery Adelaide

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