What Is A Tattoo Convention?
Tattoo convention is a meeting of tattoo enthusiasts and practitioners, where visitors can get familiar with certain tattoo shops, tattoo artists, and experience the world of tattooing up close. At the convention, visitors can buy tattoo-related items, or even get tattooed by available tattoo artists, on-site.
Overall, tattoo conventions are a staple in the tattoo community, especially for those promoting a new business and trying to get the audience more familiar with their work. Now, this all sounds fun and great, but tattoo conventions are more complex than just having people visit and get tattooed by whomever they want.
If you’re planning on visiting a tattoo convention, now that the COVID-19 pandemic is finally leaving some room for us to breathe, then you should first get familiar with how this gathering works. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the world of tattoo conventions!.
Is there a convention for tattoo artists?
History [ edit ] – The first world tattoo convention was held by Lyle Tuttle and Dave Yurkew on January 24–25, 1976 in Houston, Texas.  Dave Yurkew, who was also President of the North American Tattoo Club  went on to host another 6 consecutive World Tattoo Conventions through 1982.
- Lyle Tuttle was quoted as saying that this was;
- “The event that changed tattooing forever;
- ” On January 19–21, 1996, Dave Yurkew and Lyle Tuttle co-hosted the 20th anniversary of the First World Tattoo Convention in Houston, Texas, following up with the 25th anniversary on January 18–21, 2001 in Houston, hosted by Dave Yurkew and John “Big John” G;
Stuckey. The first International Tattoo Artists Association Convention was held in 1977 in Reno , and the first National Convention was held in Denver , Colorado March 23–25, 1979 at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. Speakers at this convention were: Don Ed Hardy , Terry Wrigley, Peter Tat 2 Poulos, Diane Poulos, Bob Shaw, Big Walt Kilkucki, Painless Jeff Baker, Dave Yurkew, and from Germany Horst Streckenbach and Manfred Kohrs.
 Tattoo conventions range from small events sponsored by a local business that may last a day, to major international conventions spanning a weekend or the better part of a week. They may include contests and exhibitions, booths selling tattoo-related items and even booths rented for use by tattoo artists who work during the convention.
Collectors may attend conventions specifically to obtain a tattoo from a particular visiting artist. Other events may include professional events such as workshops and meetings as well as social events. Contests, usually restricted to registered participants, usually feature a variety of categories: black-and-gray , tribal, oriental, backpiece, women, men, and so on.
Judging may be by vote or by a panel of judges. The first tattoo convention in London, England took place in 2005.  The first tattoo convention in Germany was held in 1980 by Horst Streckenbach in Frankfurt.
What to expect at a tattoo convention?
Conventions have become a staple of the tattoo industry and there are more tattoo events happening around the world than ever before. However, for someone who isn’t familiar with the tattoo world and hasn’t attended a convention before, they can be rather intimidating.
And because of this, we’ve decided to create a guide for our audience to better understand the ins and outs of tattoo conventions. In this guide, we discuss everything from how to get tattooed at a convention to the amazing entertainment that many shows have to offer.
Take a look at the gallery below to learn more about the exciting world of tattoo conventions and let us know if you’ve attended one in the comments section on Facebook. What are Tattoo Conventions? Tattoo conventions are events that allow hundreds of artists, collectors and spectators to participate in two to three days of live tattooing in a single weekend. Tattoo conventions occur throughout the world and many of your favorite artists attend specific conventions every single year. Why are Conventions Great For Clients? Tattoo conventions are great for clients because they have access to talented artists from around the world. For example, a person can travel to a convention and get tattooed by an artist from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, etc. For many people, conventions are the one and only opportunity to get work done by their favorite artist—without traveling to their home country. Why are Conventions Great For Artists? But conventions are also great for artists. Conventions allow artists to interact with other people in their industry—which in some cases leads to once in a lifetime collaborations. Local artists have the opportunity to learn from the best of the best in person—with many conventions holding seminars for tattooers. How Do You Get Tattooed at a Convention? While some artists will allow walk ups at the convention, if you want to get tattooed by a top notch artist, you will need to book months in advance. Once you notice that an artist has posted about a convention that they will be attended or a convention nearby introduced their attending artists, you should hurry and make an appointment with them ASAP. Most tattooers only make time for one client per day, therefore slots will fill up extremely quickly. Conventions and Tattoo Etiquette Tattoo conventions are very dissimilar to an artist’s home shop because they are filled with thousands of people walking around and hundreds of artists working side-by-side. If you are attending a convention as a client or spectator, be conscious of an artist’s working space and be mindful that they are there to work. However, most artists working conventions are happy to answer any questions you might have about their work or availability. Conventions and Tattoo Collaborations Over the past several years, tattoo collaborations have become very popular at conventions. Because conventions bring together artists from around the world, many tattooers take this as an opportunity to collaborate with friends from other countries. For example, one of the biggest tattoo collaboration teams is The Rat Pack, who have worked together at the London Tattoo Convention, the Empire State Tattoo Expo and the Golden State Tattoo Expo. Conventions and Vendors In addition to hosting tattoo artists, every convention features a number of shopping vendors for both artists and clients. We’ve seen everything from food to clothing to art to motorcycles marketed to clients at conventions, whereas artists can purchase inks, the latest machines, etc. Not to mention, the INKED Shop frequently sells their top merchandise at many of the top conventions. Conventions and Contests Tattoo contests are a staple of the convention scene. They allow both artists and collectors to showcase their work for the chance to win an award (and sometimes more. ) Some categories for tattoos completed prior to the convention include ‘Best Black-and-Grey,’ ‘Best Small Color,’ and ‘Best Neo Traditional.
The Rat Pack is comprised of Sam Barber and Jak Connolly from the UK, Steve Butcher from New Zealand, Yomico Moreno from Venezuela, Dave Paulo from Portugal, Benjamin Laukis from Australia and sometimes Paul Booth from the United States.
‘ However, the most popular and most prestigious contests of the convention are ‘Best Tattoo of the Day’ and ‘Best Tattoo of the Show. ‘ These contests are judged only with tattoos completed at the convention, with the judging often becoming extremely competitive. Conventions and Entertainment Last, but not least, almost all conventions feature some type of entertainment during the show. Many popular acts include fire dancing, live music and burlesque performances. Some of these acts are appropriate for all ages, whereas others are strictly adults only..
What are the biggest tattoo conventions in 2021?
Upcoming Tattoo Conventions (For August 2021) –
- Knoxville Tattoo Convention (August 20-22, 2021) – the 9th annual Knoxville Tattoo Convention will take place at the Worlds Fair Exhibition Hall In Knoxville, TN. Check out the attending tattoo artists list to contact the tattooists and book a tattooing session at the convention. There is no age restriction for admission, but a person must be over 18 to get tattooed, or over 16 to get a piercing.
- Dallas Tattoo Arts Convention (August 20-22, 2021) – this is the world’s largest tattoo convention tour. It will take place at the Dallas Market Center North Hall, and there will be a bunch of famous local and international tattoo artists. There is currently no information regarding the COVID-19 restrictions for the event. For more information, make sure to visit the event’s website.
- Paris Body Art Expo (August 27-29, 2021) – if you want to check out some of the best tattoo artists in Texas and Oklahoma, make sure to visit the Paris Body Art Expo at the Love Civic Center. You can book an appointment for a tattoo with the attending tattoo artists or come to the convention and get tattooed on the spot. The convention is also giving away 1000 dollars in free tattoos, so make sure to not miss this event.
- Inked Hearts Tattoo Expo (August 27-28, 2021) – tattoo artists from around the world will be at the California Blue Lake Casino for the summer edition of the Inked Hearts Tattoo Expo. Face masks are not required for fully vaccinated visitors, while those who are not vaccinated must wear masks, indoors and outdoors. For more information, make sure to visit the event’s website.
What is a tattoo exhibition?
What Does a Tattoo Convention Comprise? – Now, alongside the obvious, tattooing-related events, tattoo convention is a pretty dynamic place to be, since there’s a lot to see and do. For example, a standard tattoo convention comprises;
- Contests – tattoo artists and collectors showcase their work in the hope to win an award. The contests revolve around certain tattoo styles (like the best ‘black and grey tattoo’, or the best tribal tattoo’, etc. However, the main contest at a tattoo convention is the one where judges choose the ‘best tattoo of the day/show’.
- Tattoo exhibitions – tattoo artists, as well as collectors, showcase their work to the visitors and audience. Tattoo exhibitions are generally a part of the contest, but in some cases, the exhibited work is just a part of the entertainment during the show.
- Shopping vendors – every tattoo convention has shopping vendors for both, visitors and tattoo artists. Visitors can buy clothes, for example, while tattoo artists can shop for tattoo equipment and inks. Prominent tattoo artists or studios generally sell their own merchandise as well.