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.