Guest Blog: Austin Tattoo Convention Redux
Our intrepid reporter Father Panik (yes, of Father Panik Industries) went to the Star of Texas
tattoo convention in Austin last weekend and came back with the story. Kinda.
Also check more photos from the show on Flickr.
By Father Panik
We are here to celebrate art.
I think of that as a shitfaced "artist" in the booth next to me waves a buck knife around.
He's upset at not having won a tattoo contest.
He's already won a couple of contests this weekend. The trophies placed with pride at the center of his table for everybody to see.
But this one, this one he didn't win.
Not because the other tattoo artist on this day created a better tattoo.
Listen and he will explain. Beer in one hand, knife in the other.
He didn't win because the system is fucked. The judges are fucked. The winning artist is a pile of shit. It was ineptitude on the part of the the event organizers that created this colossal foul up.
The "artist", the one with the knife, is going to correct it.
"Imma cut that shit off his arm and wipe my ass with it," he announces to the cluster of suburban hillbillies gathered around him. They agree that this is a correct course of action. Never mind that he won two other contests. An injustice is afoot. A wrong needs to be right. A tattoo must be cut off and wiped across an ass.
This is where I work.
I make stuff, go on the road with tattoo conventions and try to sell it.
Father Panik Industries. Purveyor of fine clothes, jewelry and accessories.
This is another day at a tattoo convention. We've been celebrating art for three days now and I'm about to snap. I'm wondering if I have anything in my booth to fight with. A chair, a pipe, anything in case the dude focuses his attention on me.
While this goes on I try to sell my cute hand towels to a woman interested in my wares.
I speak up to drown out the indignant redneck.
"Imma rub my one good nut on his face" is countered with "It's made from high quality Egyptian cotton".
And the thing is, the Austin Texas Tattoo Art Revival is a good convention.
The quality of the art, the promotion, above average intelligence of the local attendees, all good. Folks not afraid to spend a couple of bucks, nice space, first rate hotel. This is as good as we've seen in a long time. Quality tattoos are cranked out at a remarkable pace. Even the trophies are amazing. Each handmade by Tom Molkenthen with a outsider art flair.
Motherfucker is waving a knife, talking crazy shit and somehow, it's normal.
Does this happen at your job?
I need to know. I've been in this all-sideshow, no circus environment for a very long time so it's hard to get a firm idea on what is and is not acceptable behavior.
A couple approaches. A woman is interested the cotton shorts we offer.
She wants to check them out and asks her guy to hold her beer along with his.
He stares at her. Aghast.
She glares at him until he takes the beer muttering "you better watch yourself".
She holds a pair up to him and asks what he thinks of them.
"Your ass won't fit in those. You got an extra large ass".
She kills him with her eyes.
"How much?" she asks me.
The boyfriend snorts "ripoff"
I mentioned that I'm on edge right?
I make this stuff. Each item is designed by me and Mika. Each piece represents our hearts our passions, our social political and religious ideals. Childhood pain, cultural clashes. This is not some mass produced shiny derivative made in China crap with a 13 and a horse shoe that you get at Hot Topic.
I made it, flew cross country in two airplanes set up a booth and laid it out all nice and neat.
This is how I put food on my table.
The fucking Affliction wearing herd animal calls it a ripoff?
He insults everything Father Panik is about.
"What? What did you say?" I say, leaning in to him. My eyes lock onto his.
The woman is smarter than me and him. She gets her beer from him saying let me think about it and walks away. Not looking at me, head down, he says "nothing" and follows her.
Normally when our editrix Marisa sends me out to conventions to get the story I get the story. But me wandering off with a camera really pisses off Mika. I'm the pretty face of the company. It's my job to interact with the customers. She's forbid me to roam. She don't care about finding a higher truth, about getting the story, about my craft, my writing. She glares at me and hisses "sellsellsell" so I just stay in the booth and take notes.
And here they are. That's it. All my notes. Steers and Queers.