For Collectors and Curious – Tattoo Conventions part II
For tattoo collectors, conventions constitute a chance to get a piece by a visiting artist, without having to save up for plane fare and taking holiday time to fly half way across the world to their home studio. For other enthusiasts and the perhaps not yet inked but generally curious, they can be a great place to meet and peruse the work of both their local talent and artists from far away. And to see an artist’s work up close before booking in for a session.
Getting tattooed at a convention
It is of course possible to get tattooed at a convention, but artists’ time slots are not seldom booked months in advance. Often they are looking to do specific motives or designs in order to take part in the competitions. It is best to follow the social media page of the artist you are interested in, and/or the page of the convention itself. This is where the time slots are announced, and whether or not they are looking to do something special. Some just as great at what they do but perhaps lesser renowned artists do take walk-ups however, and will take bookings for smaller pieces on the spot. And if a fully booked artist finishes early, they may just squeeze you in for a smaller piece. So do not despair, should you be struck with burning inspiration.
A tattoo convention is a very different environment than what an artist is used to in their home studio. Artists generally find it more of a challenging and stressful environment, and for good reason. Small booths, cramped space and less than ideal lighting. Thousands of people walking up and down the aisles, and hundreds of artists working side by side. As well as their buzzing needles and stereo systems! Therefore, it is good to keep in mind that they are in fact, there to work, and can do with as little distraction as possible. It is someone’s skin being permanently marked, after all, and of course you would like the same courtesy from curious onlookers.
Iconic events and conventions
Sometimes, you get the opportunity of seeing artists from different corners of the globe work together, collaborating in real time on a single piece. For example, the collaboration team known as The Rat Pack featuring tattooers from the UK, New Zealand, Venezuela, Australia, Portugal and the US. They have worked together at the London Tattoo Convention, the Empire State Tattoo Expo, and the Golden State Tattoo Expo, creating entirely unique and coveted pieces.
The conventions can also become focal points for major industry events. As when in 2019 the UK’s oldest tattoo artist, the 86-year old completely self-taught Doc Price of Union Street, inked his last ever tattoo at the London Tattoo Convention. The LTC has been running since 2005 and features over 400 artists from around the world. It brings in distinguished guests to be judges on the competition panels, like another legend in the business, Mark Mahoney.
Other noteworthy conventions include The Golden State Tattoo Expo in San Fransisco, presented by Inked magazine, London tattoo convention — the largest tattoo gathering in the UK, And, for the hardcore, there is North Karelia Tattoo Fest in Finland in late January. When the average temperature can hit a balmy -15C.