Tattoos are personal; in experience, design and meaning. A passion for some, an art for others. One thing is for certain tattooing seems to be becoming part of the collective imaginary thanks to advertisements, fashion and music brands which use tattoo icons to underline a freedom of choice craved by the individual.
Maybe this is why I got my first tattoo I wanted it to be a constant memory of an amazing time in my life, I guess to satisfy that the craving of my inner rebel. Knowing that I have a passion for anything tattoo related (and probably thinking I would be some kind of expert/help/wiser opinion on the situation) my friend asked me to accompany him to the London tattoo convention 2007. I wondered if the convention might emanate the feelings of freedom, individuality and rebellion that I most relate to the art of tattooing. I was worried that the heavily tattooed may reject those of us who have only a token gesture on hidden parts of our bodies … First port of call, as ever, was a trawl of the internet to locate pearls of wisdom that may prepare me for what I had let myself in for! I did not find much to help me, odd snippets describing the buzzing of tattoo machines everywhere, which unless you think you get tattooed by a paintbrush is kind of obvious. Other words of wisdom came along the lines of … “there was a lot of heavily tattooed people”, well in the words of Homer (Simpson that is!)
Maybe I can provide a beginners guide for those who have a blank canvas of a body… to give the virgin’s guide to the tattoo festival …
I did feel slightly overwhelmed on entering this whole new world, pardon me for sounding like an Aladdin song. And not to repeat the words of the idiot I quoted above, but the buzz of tattoo machines did permeate the air and made me get that excited/nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach as if I was about to get my first tattoo all over again. I have never seen so many different walks of life in one place; it is an indescribable feeling (maybe why I found it so difficult to come across first timer’s advice). Art everywhere, on bodies, on walls, on stage…
There were men and women, young and old, the inked all over and the never been inked and those of us who were just there to soak up the atmosphere. Many people at the convention have such a strong passion for the art form that they travel all over the world to be at these conventions. It is a time when everybody in one place experiences art on the skin, the convention makes body art an easy form of art for everybody … there were over 150 artists at the convention all representatives and masters of the numerous styles that form the contemporary tattoo panorama. Artists, who create art on the skin.
There is far more to the convention than to go and get inked, there are also numerous events and side shows that only add to the living art shown by the artists. The organisers were very attentive to the entertainment of all those who chose to spend three days in the tattoo scenario. International DJs played incredible contemporary music, surrounded by light shows; freak shows and any other show you can imagine. Tattoos are not only show cased on the skin but also on canvases, paper and photographs. It is these that truly enhance the artistic value of the convention. Listed below are just a few things that I saw that were amazing …
Tattoo Contests The most awaited moment of the convention. The tattooed public become the protagonists. The tattoo contests are organised for the different categories.
Sabina Kelley Sabina is an international phenomenon and icon, the personification of the modern day pin up girl. She brings to life the iconography of the 50s with irony, originality and energy. As a model, mother, business woman and wife she is an inspirationally beautiful woman. http://www.switchbladestilettos.com/
Suicide Girls Suicide Girls is a contemporary lifestyle brand that redefine beauty. Combining attitudes of underground culture with a vibrant, sex positive community of women, the company was founded on the belief that creativity, personality and intelligence are not incompatible with sexy. The site mixes enthusiasm, attitude and alternative culture with an unapologetic approach to sexuality. http://suicidegirls.com/
So I urge you all go to the next convention even if you do not want to get inked. Go to the soak up the truly unique atmosphere of living art.