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.
Senior Medic Ron Riveira of the California Army National Guard's 184th Air Assault. (Courtesy of War Ink.)
There were a few tattoo headlines that have been making major news, so I figured I wouldn't wait until Monday to share.
The biggest headline is the US Army just announced that it will revise its tattoo policy. As I wrote about last May, the Army banned tattoos below the knee or elbow (although soldiers who already had those tattoos were "grandfathered" in). In explaining why the Army's appearance policy has been changed again, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey stated that the message he got from the soldiers he talks to is "Soldiers have tattoos, tattoos are acceptable now, and the tattoo policy might affect a decision to re-enlist." Another factor was that the discontent with the policy wasn't just coming from soldiers, but officers as well. So, with the new changes, "soldiers will no longer be limited to a particular size or number of tattoos permitted on the arms or legs, provided those tattoos are not extremist, indecent, sexist or racist." The policy will continue to prohibit tattoos above the t-shirt neckline, on the head, face, wrists and hands. But wait -- there will also be an exception allowing one ring tattoo on each hand. Who said the Army isn't romantic?!
Tattoos are so entwined with the armed forces -- and are also an outlet of expression for what servicemen and women have gone through. A perfect example of this is War Ink, a virtual exhibit that explores the experiences of 24 veterans (most of whom served in Iraq and Afghanistan), as illustrated by their tattoos. I highly recommend spending time on the War Ink site is you haven't already.
In other news, there was a collective "Oh, damn!" online when links hit social media with this story: "Texas Tattoo Sham: Promoter Red Neilson Escorted Out Of Own Show For Nonpayment." As I wrote about in my last Tattoo News Review, there was some beef behind competing tattoo shows in San Antonio, Texas: The 12th Annual Slinging Ink Tattoo Expo and then the Texas Tattoo Jam, which was held the following week. Well, as the headline notes, the promoter of the Texas Tattoo Jam was escorted from San Antonio Event Center ("SAEC") by security. According to the San Antonio Current, she was asked to leave for failure to pay the venue -- but also for her own safety. Turns out that she is also accused of not paying her guest tattoo artists, performers and musicians, venue security, and a local event management company. "To stop a pending riot, she was basically evicted from the show," Michelle Coben , co-owner of SAEC, told the San Antonio Current. The article also reports:
Coben said Neilson initially paid her a $1,000 deposit to book the venue. SAEC usually asks renters to pay the remaining balance 5-15 days prior to the event, but Neilson did not. Coben said since she knew tattoo artists had travelled from California, Florida and even as far away as Italy to attend the show, she made the decision to open the doors for the expo anyway. Coben said they also had Neilson sign a new contract that stated she would pay the remaining balance hour by hour during the expo until the entire amount - $13,000 - was paid in full.I've been hearing a lot of tattoo convention drama recently, but that's the most dramatic. So far.
In more artful news ...
The Daily Mail featured legendary London tattooer Lal Hardy, focusing on how he's taken botched tattoos and made them beautiful. The article offers some Before & After pics like the one below.
Another renowned artist, Tim Hendricks, is featured in OC Weekly, in which he talks about "Tattooing's 'Glamorous' Misconception."
Finally, in less artful news ...
Some rapper got drunk with Tara Reid on a flight and got her name tattooed on him. Sigh. It's no "Marisa Love Me" tattoo for sure.
Cover up by Lal Hardy.
Photo above: Jimmy Bissette tattooing Miranda. Photo by Geoff Livingston.
The recent tattoo headlines had some interesting coverage, from conventions to tattoo cultures in South Korea, Turkey & Iraq, and much more. Here's the rundown:
I admit, I was pretty jealous when my friends' social media feeds were filled with fun pics from the DC Tattoo Expo, and even more so when photos also came up in my tattoo news alerts from the press. DCist.com had the most extensive slideshow from the event, capturing the scene from the floor as well as the tattoo and pin-up contests. The Washington Post particularly focused its coverage on the "My Tattoo F'n Sucks Award" portion of the contests, and although only one regrettable tattoo competed for the award, it was enough to pass along the lesson that you get what you pay for, especially with tattoos. Then there was ABC News, which skipped hiring a photographer and just swiped Instagram photos tagged #DCtattooexpo for their article. But their "social gallery" did offer some unique perspectives from the show, so that's worth a look.
Surprisingly, there wasn't too much photographed or written about of the Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival show this past weekend, but The Statesman has a few good shots and there's some short video footage from Keye TV, which is meh. Better to check the #txrevival hashtag on Instagram for more.
And Rio's Tattoo Week was repped with a few pics in the Sacramento Bee. It's interesting to see just how much tattoo conventions have in common all over the world.
Beyond conventions, there were headlines that explored tattoo culture in countries with still many obstacles to the art form. For one, the AFP's piece entitled "South Korea's outlaw tattoo artists starting to find a mainstream niche," found its way in a lot of publications with its interesting look at how the laws of South Korea are not keeping up the greater acceptance of tattoos in the country. Here's a bit from that:
Tattooing itself is not illegal in South Korea, but the law states that it can only be carried out by a licensed medical doctor.NPR had a similar story about changing attitudes in Cuba and the law concerning tattoos, with the following:
Tattoos have long been taboo in Cuba, but the recent emergence of a large-scale distinctly Cuban tattoo culture is a vivid example of cultural change . As recently as a few years ago, tattooed Cubans were not permitted on beaches and there are unofficial rules against employing tattooed people. Tattooed Cubans reportedly can't work in the airport.Some older articles from the previous week are also worth checking for a glimpse into tattoo culture around the world, such as: "Turkey issues fatwa against tattoos: Remove or repent" and "In Iraq, ex-interpreter makes his mark as tattoo artist."
And my personal favorite tattoo story of the past week is that of the kickass tattoo of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Nikki Lugo, shown below. I only wish I had gotten it first!
Feel free to share your thoughts on the news in our Facebook group or Tweet at me.
Cover-up tattooed by Tim Kern at the Evergreen Tattoo Invitational.
This morning, my tattoo news alert was blowing up with mainstream media coverage of tattoo events across the US. This past weekend, three major conventions took place: the Evergreen Tattoo Invitational in Springfield, Oregon; the Motor City Tattoo Expo in Detroit, Michigan; and the West Texas Tattoo Convention in San Angelo, Texas.
The Evergreen Tattoo Invitational received a lot of local press coverage, particularly for a first convention, which was organized by Joshua Carlton and Riley Smith. The more extensive coverage came from The Register-Guard, which posted this video (below), as well as some photos from the convention floor. You can also find a slideshow from Evergreen at Komonews.com.
Tattoo above by Randy Engelhard, winner at the Motor City Tattoo Expo.
The Motor City Tattoo Expo celebrated its 19th year as Michigan's most popular convention. The Detroit News covered the event, as did MLive, which also has a sizable slideshow of images from the show. As with other convention coverage, there was an emphasis on the tattoo TV reality stars in attendance.
For the West Texas Tattoo Convention, K-San news offered this video, featuring a quickie interview with Oliver Peck.
I'll be covering my hometown NYC Tattoo Convention, March 7-9.
For about ten years now, I've been running into the wonderful Yushi Takei across the globe at conventions, including the Brussels tattoo show this past weekend. Yushi has been specializing in traditional Japanese tattoo since 1998, bringing his own unique interpretation to the art form.
Yushi is currently working at Schiffmacher en Veldhoen Tattooing, home of the original Hanky Panky in Amsterdam, but will be traveling extensively for conventions and guest spots. Here's his schedule, which is largely a list of the top upcoming tattoo conventions.
* This weekend, November 20-21, is the Wildstyle & Tattoo Tour in Austria. The 15-year-old tattoo fair is entitled "The Reunion of the Original" and will be drawing top artists including Jack Rudy, Bernie Luther, Shinji Horizakura, and many others.
* December 3-5 is the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Tattoo Convention. This is going to be a huge show (more so than usual) with many tattoo legends in attendance as well.
* January 28-30, Cape Town, South Africa hosts the Third Annual Southern Ink Xposure. Check their impressive artist roster here.
* February 11-13, in Italy, is the 16th Annual Milano Tattoo Convention, a massive event that has drawn 10-15,000 people.
As for guest spots, Yushi will be at Frith Street Tattoo in London and White Light Tattoo in Berlin next month, and in February, he'll be at Italian Rooster in Milan. From March on, Yushi is tattooing at shops in LA, NYC, Seattle, Japan and other cities so check his site for further details and more from his portfolio.
... Aaaaaand they're up.
Check Brian's photos from the London Tattoo Convention on Flickr.
The London Tattoo Convention made the headlines again, although less so this year, but what's out there is pretty good. Here are a few of my faves:
For their In Pictures section, the BBC has a beautiful slideshow of the event including the photo above of Martin Poole, a tattooist in Cornwall who does hand tattooing. In fact, he has done most of his own facial work. I interviewed Martin and will try to have our talk up later this week.
Cheekier photos and captions can be found on Asylum UK's The London Tattoo Convention's Best & Weirdest gallery, which also has shots beyond tattooed butts like the one below.
And finally, this video by the Telegraph entitled "My dad's gonna kill me - getting your face tattooed" with some excellent footage and interviews on traditional tattooing among other scenes from the convention floor. Check it below.
My thoughts on the show are up soon as well as those from Brian, who took his own great shots.
Today, the London Tattoo Convention kicks off and I promise to lay off the cider to bring y'all a coherent account of the events here. [*crossing fingers behind my back*]
Check out my usual bad photos from last year's show, including the one of above of the beautiful Alice of the Dead (who has a great deal of work from dotwork guru Xed le Head.
Artists have arrived from every corner of the earth, from Borneo to Brooklyn, to swap stories, check out the art in the galleries, buy baby clothes with ACDC logos on them from vendors, and hell, maybe they'll do a few tattoos. With 20,000 people expected over these next three days, there is plenty of skin to be decorated. Last year, the convention made The Guinness World Record For "The Most People Being Tattooed Simultaneously." No joke. It's an actual record.
The convention is already getting some press, but I anticipate news coverage and slide-shows will start popping up online as early as this evening so I'll be posting those links as well as my own redux.
I should also mention that, in addition to my bloggedy blog posts, I'm here to promote my latest book. More on that (shamelessly) coming up.
Celebrating its sixth successful year, A Convention of the Tattoo Arts will take place October 22-24, this year in SF at The San Francisco Airport Hyatt Regency. Organized by State of Grace Productions, the show is run by tattooists for tattooists and collectors, and not by a convention corp trying to squeeze a buck out of the "tattoo fad." In addition to the hand-picked roster of artists, there are a number of exciting events that weekend.
For one, there's the groundbreaking seminar by Chris Conn Askew: "Drawing Women for Tattoo, the Chris Conn Way." The class, which costs $200 a person, entails a slide-show presentation and lecture, live sketching, and Q&A with the artist (who retired from tattooing in 2006). Program details can be found on Chris's Tumblr blog. Each attendee will also receive an instructional sketchbook, signed and numbered, exclusive to this convention. The seminar is a limited-enrollment event and is already 90% booked, so if you're interested, it's best to get in touch with Chris at email@example.com right away (no drop-ins will be accepted). You can view more of Chris' fine art, like the one above, on his gallery page.
A number of book releases and signings are taking place as well: Grime's much anticipated book covering his last ten years, and Jill "Horiyuki" Mandelbaum's Tattoo Artist: A Collection of Narratives. Also for sale will be the Bob Roberts: In a World of Compromise I Don't and These Old Blue Arms: The Life & Work of Amund Dietzel, among other books.
The show kicks off Thursday evening, October 21st, with an opening party hosted by Black Heart Tattoo. For more info, check the convention site.
Baltimore Sun photo by Algerina Perna
The Baltimore Sun had some good coverage of the weekend's Baltimore Tattoo Arts convention, including a slideshow featuring this photo of Dan Henk working [where you can just make out his head tattoo that Nick Baxter did in June]. They also shot footage and interviews from the convention floor, shown below.
Just before the convention, the newspaper interviewed organizer Troy Timpel, offering a preview of the event, and published a "Tattoos at the Baltimore Tattoo Museum" photo gallery. In his interview, Troy said:
"I liked getting the dirty looks from the old ladies back in the early '90s and late '80s...It's no longer the lowbrow biker, sailor, convict kind of thing that it was 20 years ago. Sadly, I think it's become socially reputable."
Sarcasm aside, the show drew in over 5,000 convention goers, and from the Twitter feeds of some artists in attendance, it sounds like it was successful for many working it as well.