Photos above from the Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival in Austin by Brian Grosz.
I used to joke that, every ten seconds, a tattoo convention takes place around the world; these days it seems more like a reality. And that's good and bad. The good: access to artists and tattoo-related events in areas that normally would not have had that opportunity in the past. [For example, the super-fun Pagoda City City Tattoo Fest in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania.] The bad: top artists spread thin over different events, leaving convention organizers to fill booths with less-than-stellar tattooers. Plus, to me, it just feels less like a family freak show.
That said, I always enjoy seeing what goes down at the different shows, and over the past couple weeks, there were some big ones: the DC Tattoo Expo, Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival, and Tattoo Week Rio.
The most press went to DC Tattoo Expo, which is in its sixth year. DCist.com's coverage was the most interesting, adding some discussion to their slideshow (although I wish there were more photos of tattoos than of the many pin-up shots). There first big point was that the DC show is actually in Virginia because, as organizer Greg Piper explained, the capital has become "increasingly inhospitable to the tattoo industry." He says that this largely stems from the D.C. Department of Health's proposed Tattoo, Body Art, and Body-Piercing Facility Regulations, which puts forth some irrational rules (but are still under review). Here's more:
Issued last October, the proposal for additional regulation currently under consideration is the third version drafted by the DOH since 2013. Previous iterations faced vehement criticism and underwent revisions that eliminated provisions such as a mandatory 24-hour waiting period in advance of getting a tattoo.
DCist also interviewed Paul Roe of British Ink, who stated his belief that the current proposals were unfeasible logistically and could lead to unfair business practices, among other concerns; however, the article noted that Paul was confident that the proposals will ultimately be further revised. Read more here.
Also covering the DC expo, OnTapOnline.com has an extensive slideshow from the convention floor.
Mashable had fun at the expo, interviewing attendees for "Tattoo artists and enthusiasts talk about tattoo triumphs and regrets," which featured a number of our friends. In the article, Keith Lane shoots specific tattoo pieces and has people offer a story behind the work. For one, Gene Coffey (show below), who is a fantastic tattooer and wears some great work himself, talked about his first tattoo: "It was a skull; a small little one-inch skull on my arm. I got it when I
was twenty-four. I drew it myself and thought it was the coolest thing
ever...it's really not the coolest thing. It's not very cool at all,
actually." See more here.
This blog's own Brian Grosz sent us the Mashable link and also a few pics from the Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival, shown at the top of this post. The 14th annual show, which took place this past weekend, was packed with artists, including some internationally renowned greats. The Lizardman performed all three days, among other entertainment, and there was some stiff competition during the tattoo contests. Brian took home a trophy for his work by Mike Rubendall. You can see Brian without his pants, alongside an equally pantsless Madd Huero, here.
You can also check out the action via Instagram hashtag #staroftexastattooartrevival.
So, while these weren't the only recent events, they offer an overview into tattoo gatherings today, which are getting bigger and bolder in their offerings. Again, good and bad. But at least there are pretty pictures.
Yesterday, Father Panik gave us his own (special brand of) review of the Star of Texas tattoo convention in Austin, but he wasn't the only one offering reportage of the event. Austin 360 gave a play-by-play (and a small lame sideshow), while TV stations KRQE and Fox Austin posted short videos online of the show. I dig these photos and quick videos because they offer a look at the scene, which helps decide what will be on my convention schedule next year.
The Bangkok International Tattoo Convention also got some nice coverage. Reuters took beautiful photos from the show including the one above, and CNN has a few nice shots as well. Sky News joined in with a video from the floor.
With thousands attending these conventions worldwide -- and the media chasing after us -- you'd think that the debate whether "tattoos have gone mainstream" was thoroughly squashed, but a new study says otherwise.
Texas Tech University's "Body Art Team" [real name] has found "The more body art you have, the more likely you are to be involved in deviance," according to the Chicago Tribune. The swat Body Art Team surveyed 1,753 students at four colleges and reported that the heavily tattooed and pierced drank more, did drugs more, had sex more and cheated in class more. [They add, "For low-level body art, these kids are not any different from anybody else."]
NBC news in Dallas also reported on the study and gave this reasoning behind the results:
To see what tattooed people think about the study, NBC went to a local studio and talked to artists and clients -- who, as expected, laughed at it. Watch their video report below:
The study is somewhat silly in its over-generalization and limited study group: How many of us drank, smoked and fucked more in college? A lot.
But yes, we've seen more young people heavily tattooed and modified in more extreme ways than just a decade ago. I wonder, though, if it's because of a need to rebel or simply because there is greater access to tattoos and mod procedures. Feel free to weigh in in the comments section.
If anyone is pissed off about the popularity of tattoos, it's Helen Mirren, who got her hand tattoo while drunk and lookin' to be baaaad.
Tattoos are not popular enough for Armani, however. They airbrushed those of Megan Fox in their latest undie ad.
Even less scientific than the deviant study: "How tattoos can reveal your lover's personality."
The Marine Corps are also concerned about heavily tattooed (deviant?) soldiers saying that "tattoos of an
excessive nature do not represent our traditional values." Values like Shock & Awe? A new Marine Corps reg tightens and clarifies tattoo policies for active-duty troops; most notably, it "prohibits enlisted Marines with sleeve tattoos from becoming
commissioned officers, even if the tattoos, which were banned in 2007,
had been grandfathered in according to protocol." I know this is wacky but I have no problem with our military lookin'
Real deviants will soon be less likely to get tattooed with new technology that matches tattoos to criminal records. The newest development called "Tattoo ID" helps law enforcement match up tattoos to suspects and victims. For example, the Boston Herald says that "a security camera image of a suspect's tattoo could be checked against an image databank to come up with a short list of suspects." Problem here is that we assume most criminals have artistic acumen for fine art custom tattoos. What about those who picked off some flash from a tattoo shop wall along with tons of other clients? Internet-industry journal IEEE Spectrum asks, "Is a tattoo ... enough of a unique identifier to put someone under suspicion?" A valid question to explore before innocent tattooed people are accused.
In more on the tattoo law front ...
A new tattoo bill in Florida will prohinit those 16 and under from getting tattooed even with parental permission. [Teenagers 16 or 17 years old would still need a parent to sign for them.] The bill also requires every tattoo artist in Panama City to register with the Florida Department of Health.
In South Carolina, however, tattoo rules are being eased. The state's tough tattoo law requires parental consent for tattoos on those aged under 20 years of age, but that restriction will be lifted if a state House bill passes and the Governor signs off on it. An impetus for the change is soldiers under 20 returning to South Carolina after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan who want to get tattooed but can't -- they're allowed to be shot at but not tattooed.
On the pop culture tip ...
Check this black light Lost tattoo. The story behind it is pretty cool:
"In the late summer of '08, I took my Lost love to the next level by getting a Dharma tattoo inked onto my ankle. Since my good pal had recently started working at small parlor nearby, we decided to collaborate. I had been wanting to experiment with iridescent ink. My pal had never worked with the stuff, so we struck a deal: I would be his guinea pig if he would spring for the ink.
If you've never heard of it, iridescent ink is a dye that glows under a black light. The tough thing about tattooing with it is that you have to illuminate the surface of the skin just to see what you're doing.
Dharma logo seemed perfect for this technique, with a thick,
recognizable shape....We decided to use the Looking Glass Station's
logo -- a white rabbit inside of the Dharma shape -- a reference to Alice in Wonderland, and the (site) of my favorite Lost episode, the Season 3 finale."
In clear tattoo view, a Baton Rouge man tempts fate with a "Saints Superbowl Champion" tattoo even before this past Sunday's game. Thankfully, they at least made it to the Super Bowl.
Best Headline (and Jersey Shore reference): "This Is Why Cadillac Has an Image Problem.
Worst press release ever. "Tattoo body art is not only a kind of body art but a great way of advertising your business and products as tattoo advertising has many merits compared to other ways of advertising."
And More Quick & Dirty Links ...
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.