20,000 or more visitors are expected to attend this weekend’s International London Tattoo Convention at Tobacco Dock in Wapping. The halls of the warehouse have become a fantastical world of tattoo parlours, tattoo museums, fashion boutiques, a rockabilly club and performance stages.
And I have been lucky enough to film and report the action for Zeitgeist magazine…
Friday 23 September – Day one of filming
It is easy to spot the convention goers from the moment we arrive at Shadwell station, a trilby, a pin-up style head scarf…and of course lots of beautifully decorated skin – wonderfully out of context on the streets of Shadwell. I wait for the rest of the film crew to arrive (the boys from Papercut Pictures and Olivia Snape) with a cup of coffee and a cheese toastie, and wonder what the day will hold.
Thinking we are organised, we arrive at the gates at 10.30am ready to get inside and start arranging film times. We are clearly not as eager as a lot of art enthusiasts and a queue is steadily building outside the main gates. I am in awe, amazed by the inkings and body modifications that adorn the skin of these art collectors.
Even though the convention is not yet open, when we get inside there is already a buzz as the artists set up their equipment for a day of tattooing. We have a list of the artists we need to see and arrange suitable times in their busy schedules for them to speak to us on camera about their particular take on the art form. From traditional Samoan done by hand, to antique victoriana and old-school American.
Many of the artists have travelled the world to work at the convention and while it can be easy to put ‘tattoos’ in one category, the convention truly illustrates the variety of styles and traditions in the history of the art form, as they are all there to see in the maze of Tobacco Dock.
Our first day of filming was stressful, but amazing and we spoke to some of the world’s leading tatooers: Pili Mo’o, Ryan from Scapegoat tattoo, Jo Harrison, Steve Vinall and Michelle and Amanda from Daredevil tattoo NYC.
I won’t tell you what they had to say though, as the short films will be on Zeitgeist very soon. I can’t wait to go back today and speak to some more artists, including Uncle Allan (who I LOVE!) let’s hope he gives me a sneaky tattoo while I interview him.
Hope to see some of you there again today…