Tuesday, May 22, 2012

2012 NYC Tattoo Convention

This past Saturday, May 19, I attended the New York City Tattoo Convention at Roseland Ballroom near Times Square.

This was the fourth year in a row that I have gone and I have to say, it finally feels like home. I’ve always felt out of place and have always been overwhelmed by the sheer sensory overload. What follows is a loose recap of the event with some photos I took with both the camera and the Droid. I plan on expanding a few of these encounters in separate posts.

First of all, I must give a shout-out to Marisa and Brian from Needles & Sins. They’ve always been friendly faces that I can gab with to no end, and every year I spend more and more time in their company. They were the first people I saw and, much to my delight, I ran into them on the subway platform on my way back to Brooklyn. A hearty thanks to Marisa and Brian for their hospitality. If you haven’t checked out Needles & Sins, I encourage you to do so.

So obviously I saw a lot of tattoos in the five or so hours that I was ensconced in Roseland. But remember, we’re not just about gawking at amazing body art, but meeting and appreciating, as well. So we are very particular about who we photograph.

There are a few artists I want to acknowledge. I had a nice chat with Matt Van Cura, who is over at Invisible NYC on Orchard Street. Matt was familiar with Tattoosday from a post that featured his work here.

I also spent some time by the Sacred Tattoo booth, talking to shop manager Kevin Wilson. Jon Mesa was hard at work and I got to chat with him and tell him how well I thought he had done on Oxygen’s Best Ink competition (he was the runner-up). A general discussion of tattoo reality shows broke out which many of you already know is a topic of great interest to me.

I also had the honor of meeting an artist whose work I have admired for quite some time. When I snapped a photo of this phenomenal back piece, I also captured its creator (in the green shirt) David Sena.

Based out of North Star Tattoo, Sena is opening a new art space soon, with a private studio for tattooing, and was excited to be showing off his handiwork.

It’s also fun to run into people I’ve interviewed at previous shows. For example, I featured this back piece from Jessica last year and I ran into Steve who shared a really cool Celtic tattoo last year here. He had new work, also by Agent at Screamin’ Ink in Fair Lawn, which again emphasized his Irish heritage:

What also is really neat is seeing work that I had spotted outside of the convention, on the streets of New York, like when I recognized a memorial cat tattoo on the arm of Niki, who I met in July 2010.

And then there’s the new tattoos I see, like this awesome Coney Island-themed back piece on Tiffany, who sells art jewelery here.

This is a collaborative effort, Tiffany told me, of two incredible tattooists, Michelle Tarantelli and Chris O’Donnell, both of Saved Tattoo in Brooklyn.

Then there was Kate, who shared a tattoo that will appear on Tattoosday in a future post. She was a client of North Star’s Becca Roach, who was receiving a lot of attention first due to her phenomenal sleeves, and then when she stripped down to allow Becca to add a revolver to her side, which I captured here. Note the amazing work on her arms as well.

Speaking of gun tattoos, on the day before I attended the convention, I ran into a model named Melissa on Broadway in the mid-30s. She was heavily-inked but running late, and as she had plans to go to the convention, we agreed to meet up at the show. During one of the contests, she took the stage to display her left leg, sleeved by Gene Coffey at Tattoo Culture in Brooklyn.

You can see her right leg is tattooed with a gun in a thigh holster. Earlier in the day, I sat down with Melissa and interviewed her about the gun and its back story. Stay tuned for that in a future post.

In years past, the biggest crowd seems to draw around the artists from Japan, using traditional tattoo techniques in a booth up on the Roseland balcony. I didn’t really watch them this year, but did admire the work of Brent McCown, who was using traditional Maori techniques down on the main floor.

While hanging in the bar with Marisa and Brian, I also got to meet Phil Padwe, whose childrens' book Mommy Has A Tattoo is a must have for kids with inked moms.
He has a series of coloring books as well, which will get some more attention from me in a future post.

You can check out some additional photos over on Needles & Sins here, which includes a shot of me sharing my Heather Sinn tribal piece from Ink Master. You'll also see Damion Echols, one of the recently-released West Memphis Three, who I had the distinct honor of meeting. This was a tremendous surprise to see him at the show and I had the pleasure of talking to him briefly at the Sacred booth. Despite it not being tattoo-related, it was one of the highlights of the afternoon for me.

Thanks to to all of the artists, subjects, and other assorted folks who yet again made my trip to the New York City Tattoo Convention a wonderful time!

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