15 June 2010
Plymouth Tattoo Convention 2010
This year, Plymouth hosted its very first tattoo convention, and, for a city with such a long and important naval history, this seems way overdue. So the show's arrival in the city was already set to be greeted with great enthusiasm.
More than just a tattoo show, this was a whole lifestyle show, with a wide range of retailers selling everything from gothic baby-grows and rockabilly dresses to skateboard decks and lifesize models. And outside the venue, drawing as much interest as the tattoo artists, were rows of customised bikes and scooters. The event had been well thought out with ample things to check out, entertainment for children, well-chosen retailers and neatly laid out tattoo stands which made it very easy to see which artists were there.
I've said it before, but a tattoo convention is a very strange place. It's not often that you get the chance to amble around watching people getting tattooed, the air thick with the smells of various creams and chemicals, and an overriding buzz of tattoo machines. As the show got busier and busier, forcing us into a careful shuffle between the stands, I became so aware of the number of tables I might accidentally bump in to, or fresh tattoos I might brush against.
I never get bored of seeing what images people have chosen to have immortalised on their bodies; it's such a personal thing and has to be a carefully thought out decision: you get to understand a lot about that person by what they decide to have inked into their skin.
I saw a great example of this at the Frosted Ink Tattoo (Redruth) stand. I couldn't help but comment about this client's choice of tattoos! Personally, I'm a 'pretty tattoos' person, and seeing this every day would scare the bejeezers out of me! And while chatting, suddenly other people started showing me their scary tattoos - I love that pride that people have about their tattoos, even the freaky ones!
Watching people getting tattooed, making that commitment, dealing with the pain; it all feels very intrusive. But, having been tattooed at a convention before, you actually barely notice the people watching. When I was tattooed, I was concentrating so hard on the tattoo and the pain, I rarely noticed anyone else. Every now and again I looked up and saw someone watching or even taking a photo. So you needn't worry about looking, people love to show off thier tattoos, and if they wanted a private inking, they wouldn't go to a convention for it!
One big draw at the convention was charity anchor tattoos being done by Shoreline Tattoo Studio (St Ives). What began as a joke in their shop, turned into a great idea: on the Sunday of the Tattoo Show, they were tattooing anchors for £10 in aid of the charity Help for Heroes. You could barely see their stall for the huge gathering of people waiting for their anchor tattoo. They had a waiting list several hours long and were constantly booking more people in to be inked.
We were hoping to get anchors of our own, but due to the waiting list, we left them to it on a promise to travel down to St Ives to see them soon. Beth, a Shoreline tattoo artist, said of the show "We had a great time at the show: considering it was the first one, it was organised really well."
During the Sunday, Beth and Mandy tattooed 29 anchors and raised over £300 for Help for Heroes, they also tattooed several men from the navy. It was a fantastic idea for a very worthy cause, and I'm sure we'll be seeing more studios offering tattoos in aid of charity at future tattoo shows.
Overall, the success of the show rode on the back of the impressive organisation of the event, and the thought that had obviously gone into it. Tim Grayson, one of the organisers of the show told us "We are so happy that all this hard work has paid off (even if our bodies are paying the price!) After speaking with all the artists we are confident this show has a place on many people's convention calendars every year. We already have some big plans for the next show." So, if you missed the show this year, don't fret, because I have absolutely no doubts that Plymouth Tattoo Show will continue to grow bigger and better each year to become a very important event on the tattoo calendar.