Photo above of Master Barber "Teddy Boy Greg."
Tattoo above on "Teddy Boy Greg" by Fernie Andrade.
Traditional hand tattooing by Brent McCown.
All photos above by Rebecca Holmes.
I'm back in NYC after the non-stop party that was the Brighton Tattoo Convention. With the miserable winter weather, one would think I'd spend my vacation days flying south to Caribbean beaches and not the cold English seaside, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to spend my birthday with friends who were traveling from around the world to be a part of this show. I most definitely made the right choice.
The convention took place at the Hilton Brighton Metropole Hotel, located directly on the seafront in the center of the city. It was a massive labyrinth of booths throughout the hotel's convention center, with over 350 artists from over 16 countries working.
In sharp contrast, down the aisle, rap music blared from the booth that housed Norm, Big Sleeps, & Big Meas doing their sought-after script. Crowds also formed around other big names from the US such as Thomas Hooper, Bugs, Bong, and BJ Betts, among many others.
Tattoo above by BJ Betts.
UK legends George Bone, Lal Hardy, and Alex Binnie drew
plenty of fans as well. [As a side note: Alex had a gathering on Thursday night before
the show for the release of Charles Boday's Handpoke Tattoo book, and it was great
to check out his Brighton shop, which has that same cool vibe as his
iconic London studio.]
One particular thing I found interesting in the lead-up to the show was that many artists -- who normally book their convention appointments months in advance -- were advertising that they would be doing almost all walk-ups, so lucky convention goers who got in early could get prized time without being on a waiting list. I wonder if they knew how lucky they really were.The tattoo competitions were limited to Best of Day entries with Guen Douglas winning Friday for a neo-traditional lady hand tattoo; Ryan Evans winning Saturday for his black and grey portrait of Marlane Dietrich; and Alex Gotza of Dirty Roses Tattoo in Greece winning Sunday for a full thigh gypsy tattoo (shown below).
As for me, I spent much of my time helping the convention organizer Woody manage the press, as there was a lot of interest in this eighth year of the show. But when I wasn't doing that, you'd most likely find me at the opulently decked out booth -- complete with gold drapery and Moroccan lanterns -- of tattoo witches Alicia Cardenas, Goldilox, Delphine Noiztoy, and Lorena Morato. Other stunners at that booth were model Moniasse, Frank Doody, and Drew Becket. [All of whom are shown in the pic below.] I shared a rented house with these beautiful people, kind of like a Real World Brighton, and ... I think I'll leave the exploits (and damaging photos) off this blog. Moving on ...
More seriously, there was also a lot of tattoo history shared at the show. Our friend Dr. Matt Lodder gave a wonderful talk on Sutherland MacDonald, "the first tattoo artist." And just outside his roundtable discussion, you could view the artifacts and archival photos from the famed Bristol Tattoo Club. I also particularly loved the fine art exhibition of Ramon Maiden (a post on him is coming soon).
Most of the hard partying took place at the Sailor Jerry cocktail lounge and by the main stage where crowds of psychobilly babes gathered on Friday to see The Meteors, who still can bring a mosh pit to action after 35 years (with an older shirtless crowd). Other bands through the weekend included The Sex Pistols Experience, as well as King Salami and the Cumberland 3.
Prettying up the Rockabilly set pre-concerts were barbers flown in from California, although lumberjack beards and skull caps dominated over pompadours. Really, I could barely recognize friends underneath all the hirsute hotness.
It's all these different offerings, in addition to top tattooing, that make a great convention. Most important to me, these gatherings are an opportunity to share love with friends from across the globe and reaffirm that we are one community of beautiful freaks. And that's better than any beach vacation.
For more on what went down at the convention, check the Brighton Tattoo blog, and these news items:
Tattoo above by Gao Bin of Lion King Tattoo in Taiwan.
On Friday, the first day of the London Tattoo Convention, before I even finished setting up my book stand, I accosted a friend, who is getting a Filip Leu backpiece, and demanded that he drop his pants (for a look at the tattoo, of course). He immediately obliged. Soon after, others joined in and on display were derrieres decorated by Tin Tin & Xed Le Head. There are many reasons to attend tattoo conventions. Pants dropping is one.
What makes the London convention such a draw for the thousands -- who queued up in a line that snaked all around the Tobacco Dock -- was the roster of over 300 hundred artists, who represent the best in the world. Any type of tattoo art you can image was available. Hand tattooing occupied a central arena on the upper level, where artists like Pili Mo'o tapped traditional Samoan tatau, and tattoo viking Colin Dale of Denmark created Nordic inspired dotwork (among others). Colin even offered a few small Inuit stitch tattoos, which you can view here on his Facebook page.
Crowds formed around the booths of reality TV stars like Ami James and Tatu Baby, leaving room for serious collectors to watch artists like Japan's Shige (shown above) create masterful works on those lucky enough to get an appointment.
Aside from watching long-renowned legends of tattooing, I particularly love discovering artists whose work I wasn't familiar with (it's hard to keep track of the incredible talent out there today). Two artists in particular who blew my mind were Pietro Sedda, with his trippy surrealism, and Lore Morato, who does incredibly soulful neotraditional, like the work below done at the convention.
The main reason of all for my attendance at these shows is that I get to meet up with my beautiful freak friends from around the world and make new friends. I'm grateful to all of you who came to my booth and shared your stories (and took your clothes off for me). Despite being such a massive gathering, the London convention always feels like an intimate family reunion.
I brought my "Marisa Loves Me" temp tattoos, and throughout the weekend, I stamped all sorts of body parts with my tokens of affection. The greatest love, however, was shown when two wonderful friends and artists, Goldilox and Garcia Leonam, got the temps permanently tattooed on them after the convention by Lore Morato. And they were sober when they decided to do it! [See below.]
It was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend.
I posted a few of my usual bad phone camera pics on Flickr. You can also find some great images and mass media coverage of the London Tattoo Convention via the links below.
I'll soon be off to Belgium to get tattooed, but I do have posts lined up for y'all this week ... because I love you.