Rose Hardy tattoo above.Todd Noble tattooing.
Joe Capobianco & co-organizer Justin Weatherholtz at the Kings Avenue Tattoo booth.Dream team Heather Bailey, Rose Hardy & Virginia Elwood judge the Saturday tattoo competition.
After back-to-back NYC tattoo shows, I was feeling a bit burnt out on conventions and figured I'd take a break this summer. I had a blast at those shows, of course, but big conventions can be intense with the crowds, cameras, competitions and general creative chaos. But after writing my post on the Pagoda City Tattoo Fest, I decided to drive down to Wyomissing, Pennsylvania this past weekend to check for myself what my friends had been talking up since last year's premier of the convention.
On the way there, I passed by billboards that promised damnation for abortion, special deals on rifles, and mega-mall retail therapy. And then there was the Pagoda City Tattoo Fest billboard--a good sign, literally, that all would be welcome to the party.
Just minutes after walking into the Crown Plaza lobby, filled with banners for the fest, I got hugs from friends who also traveled to be a part of it. At check-in, hotel employees were wearing the super-cool designed convention tees, just one of the many ways the hotel welcomed the tattoo take-over.
I dropped my bag off and headed to the convention area of the hotel, where I was warmly greeted by Joe Johns and, soon after, Justin Weatherholtz, co-organizers and well respected tattooers. This was a hands-on operation, not run by an outside convention company, but by tattoo artists for tattoo artists and collectors.
The Pagoda City Tattoo Fest is a small boutique show with very select tattoo artists of the world's best. As I walked up and down the aisles, I kept thinking as I passed by the shop booths, "Woah, she's here, he's here...in Wyomissing?" [The amount of talent is too much to name. You can check the artist list here.] And so many of them -- who have endless studio waiting lists -- were taking walk-ups. I wondered if those who just came in off the street knew how lucky they were.
While the focus was heavily on excellent tattooing, I also felt the strength of the show stemmed from the intimate community feel. I didn't just get to hang out with old friends; the way it was set up, with a great outdoor communal space by the pool and laid back vibe, I had the opportunity to meet new people, have a drink and share stories. It wasn't a bunch of posing tattoo models or reality TV tattooists holding court with fans. People were really connecting. It was ... lovely.
That's not to say there wasn't some hardcore partying and 3am splashing in the pool. Dirty jokes, dirty laughs, & dirty tattoo tales will always be my favorite part of shows. [I never get tired of hearing veteran tattooer Mike Skiver keep telling the story of how he mistook my butt for his wife's at a convention 14 years ago -- a grab that began our friendship.] Sex, whiskey and rock-n-roll will never leave conventions (even if I, myself, went to bed sober at a reasonable hour).
Because I was having too much fun, I didn't take many pics, but you can see a few on my Instagram and Flickr album. Find more on the Pagoda City Tattoo Fest Instagram.
Claudia De Sabe tattoo.
Zack Dunn painting.
Booty out with Mike Skiver.
Tribal fusion tattoo by Evan Beers.
Selfie with Evan Beers. Evan tattooed his own head and face. Watch the video here.
This past weekend, the Hilton Midtown Hotel in Manhattan was flooded with beautiful tattooed bodies at the Empire State Tattoo Expo, repping the diversity of tattoo collectors in NYC and beyond.
The main attraction was an international All-Star tattoo artist line-up, gathered together by a stellar tattooer himself, Stefano Alcantara, for the Inked-organized show. Paul Booth curated a fine art exhibit as part of the event, and Paul also treated a lucky contest winner to a collaborative tattoo with famed Nikko Hurtado. There were the convention staples of sideshow, burlesque, vendors and competitions -- with some exceptional pieces on view during the contests, such as the Best of Show winner by Randy Engelhard, shown below.
From my book signing table, I grabbed some people from the convention floor for my signature bad iPhone shots, sampled above, and I stole a few photos posted below from the Expo's Facebook page, which has many more pictures to view. On Instagram, check #nyempirestatetattooexpo for more scenes from the show.
Yesterday, our friend Paul posted in the Needles & Sins Facebook group, this video (embedded below) from one of the most iconic tattoo conventions worldwide: the Dunstable Tattoo Expo. The video, which is from 1994, offers a glimpse of 90s tattoo culture, complete with a long blonde-haired Paul Booth, a village of tribal tattoos, and people having a ton of fun.
I had never been, but my tattoo artist, Daniel DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo, speaks of it fondly and how important it was, not just as a community gathering, but how it helped a lot of tattooers progress artistically. Before Instagram and Facebook fan pages, being featured in tattoo magazines (remember when tattoo magazines showed lots of good tattoos) brought recognition -- and more bodies to tattoo. Dunstable was the place to have your work seen. At one of the Dunstable shows, Dan brought a bunch of punk friends he had been tattooing for free in his heavy blackwork style at the time -- big tattoo pieces. He wanted to work further in this style he was developing, and showing his work at Dunstable was a pivotal moment. His work was photographed and appeared in tattoo magazines; soon, more tattoo collectors, and fellow tattooers, traveled to his studio in Liege, Belgium to get his style of tattoo work. With the flood of tattoo images on various platforms that we see today, I wonder if conventions still have that kind of impact. Maybe they still do.
When thinking about putting up this post today, I did some searching for old Dunstable photos and found these on Flickr (via bainbiker). So cool to see body modification guru Elayne Angel, and Guinness World Book holders (and badasses) Isobel Varley and Elaine Davidson. Some great pics there.
If you have any Dunstable stories of your own to share, feel free to post them in the comments in our Facebook group.
This past weekend, 340 artists from around the world, converged on the Grande Halle de la Villette, in Paris, for the highly anticipated Mondial du Tatouage. It was reported that 30,000 (!!) visitors attended the convention this weekend, and judging from my social media feeds, featuring friends aghast at the line of people that snaked around the convention hall, it seems like a reasonable number. Our friend Serinde was one of those in attendance and she graciously came back with this post and photos. See more of Serinde's photos on the N+S Flickr.
BY SERINDE of SERINDE CORSETS:
This weekend the Mondial du Tatouage -- the Paris tattoo convention -- has come back into Tin-Tin's hands, and even from the very first day, it is a huge success, which is well deserved.
I was there on opening day, Friday, March 6, at the spacious venue, Grande Halle de la Villette. Tattoo booths lined the entire area with 2 mezzanine floors and the stage right in the center. Despite the crowds, I found it easy to walk around see each and every artist, without missing anyone.
I particularly enjoyed watching artists using traditional hand-techniques: hand-tapping from Borneo and tebori from Japan. There was every style of artwork you can imagine with so many of the best artists working.
The high quality of the convention was also evident with the esteemed jury members for the contests: Bill Salmon, Luke Atkinson, and Filip Leu (I was especially thrilled to see him Filip for real!). And Pascal Tourain, who is quite famous in the French alternative/tattoo culture scene was the Master of Ceremony, running the contests and events, which also included a variety of bands performing.
I largely photographed tattoo artists working -- especially women tattoo artists, like Claudia de Sabe, in light of International Women's Day -- because I was a bit surprised that many of the visitors were not really "showing off" their tattoos. But I was happy to capture these moments.
We're grateful to Serinde for her photos and perspective on the show. You can also check more on Mondial du Tatouage on the convention's Instagram and Facebook.
Delphine Noiztoy tattooing above.
Bill Salmon, Luke Atkinson, and Filip Leu judge the tattoo competition.
I cannot think of a better way to spend my birthday this year than at the 8th Brighton Tattoo Convention, February 20-22, 2015, at the beachfront Hilton Brighton Metropole Hotel.
It's going to be a party! And it's going to be huge -- with over 250 artists from 16 different countries.
The US big names include Dan Smith, Megan Massacre, Bugs, Eric Gonzalez, BJ Betts and Big Meas. Newcomers to the show this year are Greece's Dirty Roses and Sake Tattoo Crew (of whom I'm a huge fan). Flying the flag for Great Britain, London's Valerie Vargas & Stewart Robson bring their new studio, Modern Classic, down for the weekend. Also watch out for up and coming artists including Math, Craig Ridley, Swambo, Kodie Smith, and Ryan Evans.
Adding to the excitement, the Godfathers of UK Tattooing Lal Hardy & George Bone will be in attendance. Lal, as well as Adam Heys, will be offering workshops the first day of the convention, in addition to others sharing their expertise on tattoo history, art and culture. I'm also incredibly excited for Dr. Matt Lodder's talk "Sutherland MacDonald: The First Tattoo Artist," on Friday.
Another highlight for me is Ramon Maiden's art exhibition. [I'm hoping to have an interview with Ramon up her soon.]
So yeah, how could I not be psyched for the show?
For more info, check out www.brightontattoo.com. Tickets are available from www.skiddle.com, priced from £12.50 for Friday to £45 for the weekend.
Also find more on featured artists on Brighton Tattoo's blog, Facebook page and Instagram.
Join me there for a seaside tattoo holiday!
Photos from last year's show by James Hole.
Filip Leu tattooing at the Mondial du Tatouage.
If it weren't for our hanging at our hometown NYC Tattoo Convention last weekend, we would have been in attendance at the much-anticipated Mondial du Tatouage in Paris, organized by the inimitable Tin Tin and Piero. Over 300 artists from around the globe gathered at the "Grand Hall de la Villette," once a slaughterhouse and now a cultural center. Seems fitting for three days of art and blood. And there was a lot of it, with an estimated whopping 30,000 visitors!
I was following the scene on Instagram via #mondialdutatouage and via photos posted to the convention's Facebook page, but there are also some other wonderful photo features across the web for your viewing pleasure. Here are some links:
This past weekend, we checked out the United Ink Tattoo Expo at Nassau Coliseum along with an estimated 20,000 others (that number hasn't been confirmed). Tattooed people in various states of cut-up tee shirts lined up to get work from internationally renowned artists as well as new comers to the craft.
The tattooists all looked like they were working hard. I watched Nikko Hurtado do this portrait above on Yall Quinones of San Juan, PR (who has an extensive collection of beautiful tattoos). Jose Lopez was working his black & grey magic along with other members of the Lowrider Tattoo crew. You can easily tell their clients by the massive pieces repping LA-styled tattooing at its finest, like this backpiece below. Their black & grey brethren Marshall Bennett, Shane O'Neil, among many others, were also making some lucky collectors very happy.
But all genres of tattooing were represented. Jason Ackerman and Kristel Oreto were dropping color bombs. Myke Chambers offered his signature Americana, and there was a full contingent of artists from China & Japan. Traditional Tebori (hand tattooing) was on view on a platform in the middle of the Coliseum for all to view, and there were plenty of eager spectators trying to maneuver their camera phones to get a shot. I was one of them. Here's the not-so-awesome pic of mine.
And as an added treat, Bowery Stan and Philadelphia Eddie, two of guards of the Old School, were another main attraction for serious tattoo fans.
For the less serious, there were tons of reality TV stars to ogle and pose for pictures with. And these "celebrities" were heavily promoted to draw a crowd to fill the very large space. Drita from Mob Wives and some of those, um, ladies from the Bad Girls club were there, and thankfully, they all managed not to punch anyone. Brandon from The Real World St. Thomas did a suspension, and naturally, a bunch of artists from reality tattoo TV were signing autographs in between tattoos. It was interesting to see one tattooist with a massive banner touting his tattoo competition fame when he was kicked out early in the show; nevertheless, he's reaping tons of benefits from his 15 minutes. Bless his heart.
On the fine art front, work from famed Swiss surrealist H.R. Giger was on view and there was even a very special prize for the collector who won the Giger tattoo contest (more on that coming up). Francisco Poblet, a student of Salvador Dali, was also a central feature with his "Dali Dynasty" art show.
The draw of tattoo shows for us is meeting up with so many friends who we don't often get to see if it was not for these traveling circuses. Very happy to hang with artist Phil Padwe of "Mommy Has a Tattoo" fame (we'll be doing a give-away donated by Phil soon), and filmmaker Beverly Yuen Thompson, the heavily tattooed woman behind "Covered," a documentary on other heavily tattooed women and female tattoo artists.
Oh, I guess I should mention that I wanted to punch some dude who came up to me saying he was looking for people to be in a pilot on bad, stupid and funny tattoos. Was he talking about me? Did he know that being short I have a low center of gravity that helps knock idiots on their ass? Many questions were not answered. He was one of a number of people shooting pilots. There were also the girls from "Tattoo Wives." I'm going to become an alcoholic with all these drinking games we have to create.
What I missed was the United Ink Award Ceremony & Hall of Fame Celebration, which I heard was a blast. There was a red carpet walk-through, iconic tattooists were honored and awards were given out to tattooists in different tattoo specialties. [Alas, there was no tribal/blackwork category.]
Add all this to seminars, shows, and even a United Ink anthem by Quiet Storm (!!), it was a massive production and special props go out to Frankie Scorpion-Espejo, who worked tirelessly on this, and to the crew at Tattoo Lou's who put on the show.
For more of my bad pics, hit up our N+S Flickr (although there aren't many). Also on Flickr, Hardcore Shutterbug has way better images.
LI Newsday has a write-up & photo gallery as well.
First off, let me just thank y'all for your comments and suggestions--publicly and private--because it really helps in our efforts to make this site better and give you what you want. And I want what you want. Because I love you.
So, in the comments on the Baltimore Tattoo Convention media reviews post, LC made note of the Boston convention flying under the radar. When I looked into it, I found that there was plenty of media coverage -- it's just we didn't cover that coverage. My bad. [That was the weekend we switched servers and launched the redesign. Excuses, Excuses.] Even though the convention was 12 days ago (five years in Internet time), I still think the photos and stories are interesting. Here we go:
Boston.com did something cool: they had their photographer Erik Jacobs set up a portable photobooth to take shots of artists and collectors but also get some quotes on the tattoos. For example, I really dig the photo above of Josh Kanter whose head tattoo is done by Derek Noble in Seattle [you gotta see Derek's portfolio]. When asked "Any regrets?", Josh said, "You get, you own." I like that.
There's also a separate set by Essdras M. Suarez, including the cute pic below of Laura Rost & her T-Rex.
And the Boston Phoenix has photos that are meh but still worth a quick click.
With Twitter and Hipstamatic (my first try at the photo app above), I'll be attempting to live blog the Hell City Tattoo Fest. That's the goal at least. Just got to the Hyatt Regency Columbus where the second floor bar is already filling up, and it is there I shall begin my research and reporting. I do this for you.
Follow the tattoo tweets here.
Like David Hasselfhoff and unpasteurized cheese,
tattoos are big in Germany, and this weekend, I got a large dose of all (a
little less Hoff than cheddar but one in the
same). The 18th Annual Frankfurt Tattoo Convention -- yes, the
convention was older than some of the attendees -- kicked off this past
Friday in its usual spot: The Messe Frankfurt, a massive
modern expo hall in the center of this commercial city.
It wasn't my first Frankfurt tattoo foray. It was about seven or eight years ago when I last attended and, other than a shorter artist list and more vendors, much hadn't changed. There are certain elements that give this gathering its own specialness, which I will list for you but first...
Ok, key points on the show:
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.
December and January are usually pretty quiet as far as tattoo events go, but there are a couple of impressive gallery shows and conventions to check over the next few weeks.
This Saturday, December 19th, head to Sacred Gallery -- part of Sacred Tattoo -- on the Chinatown/SoHo border in NYC for their first annual "Un-Holiday Party." This one day event -- a soft launch of the gallery -- will feature the fine art of tattooists including Paul Booth and his Last Rites crew, Jon Clue, Mike Bellamy, David Sena, Adam Hays, Vinny Romanelli, Picasso Dular, Matthew Adams, Lalo Yunda, Shey, Betty Rose and Vincent Castiglia (whose blood painting is shown above), among others. Live music and drinks abound. Party starts at 9PM.
Mark your calendars for our own sponsored art show: On Friday, January 15th, Needles & Sins presents "Girls," an exhibit of sultry photography by Maria Guido at Tattoo Culture in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. More on that show to come.
On the convention tip ...
It's not too late to book your flights to Singapore for the Second Annual Singapore Tattoo Show January 8-10, 2010. Every tattoo artist I spoke to who attended last year said it was one of the best conventions they have ever done -- a real feat for a first show. Everything from tight organization to interesting seminars to enthusiastic crowds make it a top tattoo vacation. Check the 300+ artist list. It's reads as a Who's Who of the world's best.
The following weekend, January 14-17, is a long-running favorite: The 15th Annual "Marked for Life" Female Tattoo Artist Expo in Orlando, Florida. Men and women alike are welcome at the Embassy Suites Orlando Downtown hotel to get tattooed from female veteran artists and rising stars. Art work created during the Art Fusion Experiment live drawing project will be auctioned off Sunday and proceeds will be donated to the Shriner's Hospital.
In a few hours, I will take off for the Ta Moko Tatau Tattoo Convention, which takes place this weekend in Auckland, New Zealand.
Never before have I been so excited to spend 13 hours on a plane. But for good reason: I'll be witnessing the hand-tapped and machine work of Tatau and Blackwork masters from around the world.
In addition to the tattoo booths and vendors, the convention will host "The Living Art of Pacific Tattoo" exhibition, a collection of documentaries, photographs and moving images celebrating the many faces of Pacific tattoo, curated by Steven Ball. Also showing is a new series of photographs by Helen Mitchell, celebrating the many faces of western tattooing in Aotearoa.
It will be an education to say the very least, but rather than wait, I've been further researching traditional Tatau. In doing so, I found beautiful online videos called Skin Stories, like the one above, created by Multinesia, a multicultural production company with South Pacific roots, based in LA.
Naturally, I'll be taking my usual bad photos and will have a redux of the convention for ya.