Friday, May 22, 2009

Dispatch from the New York City Tattoo Convention

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I take pride in the fact that this site is very positive. Even "bad" tattoos get their moments in the sun. If the story behind an "eh" tattoo is compelling, then it's worth telling.

There are enough places on the web where "free speech" reigns, wearing the stained sheet of petty negativity.

So I don't feel too bad about offering this word of advice to the organizers of the New York City Tattoo convention: answer your e-mails, answer your messages.

I left several messages via e-mail and phone offering to help promote the show via the blog. My inquiries weren't even acknowledged. And that's fine. Except, of course, it isn't. Why else would I be writing about it? The rote response from people I've voiced my disappointment to has been similar, "Well, what do you expect? They're old-time tattoo people."

There my be truth to that sentiment, but I'm not willing to embrace it. There are plenty of people who are in the tattoo industry who are savvy enough to hit "reply" on an e-mail.

So, disclosing fully, I approached the show at the Roseland Ballroom last weekend with a bit of a chip on my shoulder. But I was determined to enjoy myself. And I did.

I spent a little over five and a half hours wandering the aisles, watching the artists, introducing myself to various people, checking out some amazing tattoos.

I enjoyed meeting Mike Bellamy from Red Rocket Tattoo and Elio Espana from FlyRite Studio in Brooklyn. I had nice chats with people from Lotus Tattoo in Sayville, Rising Dragon in Chelsea, and New York Adorned. Many of the shops whose artists' work has appeared on the blog, everyone friendly and courteous. It was nice to put faces to the hard-working people in
these, and many other shops.

I was asked by a lot of people after the show if I took a lot of pictures. The answer is no, not what would be expected from a guy who is taking tattoo photos as often as he can.

I posted one amazing back piece on Sunday, and I have another post in the works featuring an incredible artist from Quebec.

Other than that, I just observed, met other fans. Talked with the editors of fine tattoo magazines, like Inked. Took in the sights.

I thought I would feel extremely self-conscious being there with no visible tattoos. But there were a lot of people who appeared similarly un-inked. I showed my tattoos once, to a big mensch of a tattoo shop owner from Staten Island, who started peppering his speech with Yiddish when he saw my last name was Cohen. He told me that his Jewishness didn't stop him from having 52 tattoos, and it drove his father crazy.

And I even ran into two people who have been featured here on Tattoosday. I passed by John, from my neighborhood in Brooklyn, whose work appears here and here. I also had a nice chat with Melanie, whose holstered revolvers remain one of my favorite on the street encounters.

In all, I had a fun time. I can see why many I've spoken to about the New York show have seemed hesitant to admit that it's a top-notch tattoo convention. It's cramped and dingy, but that seems a bit in character with what the promoters are trying to convey.

Will I go back next year? Perhaps. But it certainly leaves me hungry for more. Las Vegas, Vancouver, Milan.

A blogger can dream, can't he?

1 comment:

seanh said...

you don't even have to travel that far for some new conventions! We have one in atlantic city in jersey every year, and from what I hear the annual one in philadelphia is pretty good as well.