Sunday, February 11, 2018

Dispatch from the 20th Annual Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention

For years, I have been dying to go to the Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention (@villainarts).

I have long been haunted by the anecdote from several years ago when I had a car at my disposal, but couldn't get it out of the spot in Brooklyn, thanks to several inches of snow that had made the extrication of the vehicle impossible, despite hours of futile effort. I eventually gave up and bailed on the journey.

This year, I was determined to make it happen and took no chances, opting for Megabus, instead, which transported me on day 2 of the convention from Gotham to the City of Brotherly Love, still nursing its hangover from its first Super Bowl title, just six days earlier.

The trip was uneventful and I walked the dozen blocks from the bus stop to the convention center, just ahead of the rain that dampened the spirits of those waiting to get into the venue.

Within an hour of arriving in Philly, I was in the building, completely excited for what I was about to

Everyone had told me that the Philadelphia show was the gold standard for size. I have been to a few of the New York City shows, and I was told by enough people to expect "hugeness," but I was still amazed by the sheer scope of the venue.

As the day progressed, the venue filled with thousands of people.

Pictures don't really don't do it justice. But check out the map of the convention floor:

There were a thousand booths, and some vendors were even astute (and big) enough to have two booths, on either side of the massive floor.

Tattoosday is all about showing people's work, and one post alone won't cut it. Trust me, there was tattooing...

A tattoo artist at work
But there was also tattoo supplies...

and booths with weird stuff too...

And tattooing....

Victor Modafferi (@victormodafferi) from Bullseye Tattoo (@bullseyetattooshop) working a lion tattoo
and contests (see future posts for winners and runners-up) and entertainment:

Alakazam, The Human Knot (@thehumanknot)

and artwork galore....

I also had the time to get tattooed by JJ Ohlinger from Prohibition Ink (tattoo in a post TBD).

and I ran into some old friends, like Heidi from Hawaiian Ink Guard:

and Deirdre, founder of  Pinups for Pitbulls:

I spent a good 10 hours walking around, getting tattooed, interviewing people, and at one point I lost my voice, so I needed to wet my whistle

But I can't stress how massive a production this was. I mean this is just the section of the floor with the stencil machines for artists:

I mean, they even had a choice of t-shirts, with designs not only from this year's convention, but from conventions past, as well as souvenir shirts from other cities where Villain Arts runs conventions. I ended up with this beauty of a shirt:

All in all, it was blast. Word of advice to the casual attendee - get there early and expect to wait in line a bit. The sheer size of the convention makes security a necessity and most folks had to wait a good hour to get in. If you're getting tattooed and have an appointment, you can arrange to skip the line and have your artist meet you in the lobby.

A huge thanks to Try and Liz from Villain Arts for facilitating my entry and showing this New Yorker some good old-fashioned Philadelphia hospitality. It was greatly appreciated. I look forward to coming back next February for more of my "Phil" of this amazing tattoo arts experience!

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