Hell City Redux
01:46 PM
mike cole painting.jpg
Our fabulous friend, Chris Stauber, was at this weekend's Hell City show in Columbus, OH getting tattooed but also taking in the city and enjoying the convention's many events. Here's her redux below and a few photos of the show on Flickr.

By Chris Stauber    

I am exhausted from the flurry of activities surrounding Hell City in Columbus, OH this past weekend. It's hard to decide which is more swollen, my belly from eating too much at the fabulous North Market all weekend long or my beautiful new elbow piece by Tim Creed. Both were totally worth the trip.

We arrived in Columbus on Thursday evening. The trip started off well between the clear skies and friendly Off the Map tattoo artist, Stretch, offering to split a cab with us at the airport. Once settled in the Downtown Hyatt, we paid a visit to the two rooms where the participating Innerstate artists were already working on their paintings. It was impressive to see so many wonderfully talented artists come together to work side by side. The environment was casual with conversations (and beer) flowing in many of the work spaces. The variety of techniques and content was already beginning to show in this early phase of development.

By the end of the night, the works were relocated into the main display room where some artists continued working into the late hours. And with each passing hour, Hellions filled the hotel, and of course, the hotel bar. Hell City was getting started.

tim creed painting.jpgFriday the floor opened at noon. The traffic flow seemed less than the year prior, which one could certainly chalk up to the current economy.

The Innerstate painters slowly rolled in and continued work on their projects. This new Innerstate room laid out the artists in a manner that mixed their varying styles while showing the variety in both subject matter and techniques.

A large DJ station sat near center of the room providing a variety of inspirational work grooves to the artists. The end of the room held a merchandise store for many of the participating artists' goods including prints, clothing and books.

My husband had signed up for one of the Friday competitions, Best Sleeve, so we spent some time awaiting his category and chance to show the crowd.

[Check Pete Stauber's tattoo and story.]

One of the greatest features of Hell City is the software and technology they use in their competitions. There is nothing worse than a few hundred people standing around a stage of a tattoo convention all squinting to see some tiny tattoo. Hell City displays each work up on two huge projection screens for the entire show to see. A crowd pleaser.

At 10PM, the awards were announced and the floor closed up quickly afterwards. I have to brag that Peter won Third Place Best Sleeve; we were both so pleased to see the brilliant artist, Mike Cole, get recognized.

Saturday started off with a much bigger crowd, with a huge line of those waiting to get in. The Innerstate artists continued progress on their works. Several, including Shawn Barber, Kim Reed and Damon Conklin, created more than one piece over the weekend. Carson Hill and Don McDonald magically transformed their biomechanical works into 3D wonders.

While I had some reservations about taking 30 to 40 great tattoo artists away from tattooing all weekend long at a tattoo convention, it really worked. There was an unspoken vibe of inspiration flowing through the space, and there is no doubt they fed off of one another -- although there were some jokes about not feeding the caged artists on display.  

I filled day two the same as the first: checking out the tattooing, painting, various competitions, and stage entertainment. But I also fit in a 20-minute massage at the convention's massage booth. [Ed's note: A booth that should be a must at every convention for collectors but, more importantly, for the hard working artists.]

hell city tattoo.jpgWe ended the day at the awards. This time Peter took First Place Best Small Color for Mike Cole's intricate green and pink alien circuitry under his arm. [Here he is double fisting his trophies.]

Sunday morning came upon us late as we didn't get to bed until 4 am. We mainly went around saying our good-byes; I particularly enjoyed meeting some new people this year including Innerstate participant Lizi Sage along with Jim and their adorable son. Lizi's painting was magical and makes me consider jumping on a plane to the UK for a session.

All weekend, the show had a smooth rhythm.  During the competitions, the MC was entertaining and well-spoken, often buying judges time to look at entries while challenging the audience with amusing trivia and rewarding correct answers with swag. The lay out of the show over several floors makes the convention seem big and helps control the flow of bodies.

Again, kudos to Durb and his crew for a helluva convention. Hope to see you all at Hell City Phoenix, September 4-6.

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