There are a myriad of reasons to attend tattoo conventions, whether you are an artist OR a fan, and especially if it is your first.
-For starters, you have the opportunity to meet and hang out with thousands of other people, in your own area, interested in tattoos! The tattoo culture itself is amazing and full of open-minded people, pretty much just like you. Get out and actually meet people. It might be nice.
-Next, at quality conventions, you have the opportunity to get tattooed by exceptional artists from all around the globe…artists it could otherwise cost you thousands of euros in traveling expenses alone should you wish to get work done by them, and you may not even have to get on their waiting list to do so. Conventions are an excellent opportunity to get a tattoo by in-demand artists. Even if you don’t get tattooed by one of them, let yourself be exposed to the people and styles of tattooing beyond your local scene. *HINT– if you actually do want to be tattooed by someone relatively famous &/or respected in the tattoo community, don’t wait- get in touch with the artist in advance and find out if they have any openings. Some artists prefer to book appointments before the show, while others love to leave their appointment books behind, for a change, preferring the live interaction, creativity and spontaneity possible only at a show.
-For local tattoo artists, conventions provide an opportunity for networking and growth by seminars and workshops hosted by tattooers they respect. It also allows you to meet artists you respect and even have your own work critiqued by people you respect. For an artist, this is one of the most valuable tools you have to learn and grow as an artist. Not every tattooer has or will take the time to look at your book and make suggestions to you, but you should take advantage of every opportunity you have to make it happen. *HINT– artists, get tattooed by the artists you respect. Demonstrate your appreciation for them by actually putting food on their table, even if you don’t get a tattoo, buy a shirt, a painting, a book; give to them and they will be more likely to give you something in return, beyond your tattoo.
-Be safe, but don’t forget the party! At every show there will certainly be spectacle, entertainment, vendors, musical acts, food, art, and plenty of spirits. Tattooers work from open to close at conventions, sometimes well into the night, but once those gloves come off, it’s party time! Enjoy yourself. But also, be safe! Unfortunately, tattoo conventions also draw some of the lowest scumbags out of the dark and into the mix. Nary a convention passes these days that we don’t hear reports of thievery, violence, and even people being drugged and/or sexually violated
Here are some other hints to help make your first tattoo convention a great experience:
-Book your rooms well in advance! These things do sell out and the farther away you are from the convention site the more likely you are to miss out on the fun.
-Be patient and polite to everyone at the convention, including other guests, the staff, and the artists. Everyone is in the same boat as you- if it’s crowded, it’s crowded for everyone; if it’s hot, stinky, loud, slow, etc, maintain respect and understanding for everyone around you. It’s a tough, inconvenient environment at times, but it;s always worth being considerate.
-Research and contact the artist(s) you wish to get work from in advance. If you miss that opportunity, be at the convention first thing when the doors open on day 1 to try to get an appointment set up! Some of these artists can book the whole show in the first 30 minutes of the opening day. Don’t let the chance slip by, you may never have another opportunity to get tattooed by them again; artists come in and drop out of the convention circuit all the time.
-Unless you know which artist you want to get work on by, take your time at each booth, examine all the portfolios you can until you see someone with the talent to do what it is you want done.
-Don’t haggle. In spite of the circus-like atmosphere, conventions are not flea-markets, and the artists in attendance aren’t junk-dealers or used car salesmen/women. They are professional craftspeople, with traveling expenses, who likely dropped a lot of money to come to your town and make their services available to those who want their work. If you don’t think their price is in your range, thank them for their time and move on to another artist. After comparing quality and prices, you may be back!
-Be prepared to leave a deposit. This one always seems to surprise some people. If you are making an appointment to get tattooed, and an artist has to take time in advance to draw up what you want, then they NEED a deposit for that preliminary work, and to guarantee your spot on a busy day at the show. They are there to do tattoos and there’s only so many working hours in the day. The very last thing they need is to book a time slot and have a no-show.
-Be on TIME for your appointment. And I’d say the same thing to the artists. Some people are notoriously late, some just simply move slow, but I don’t think there’s a valid excuse for not behaving like a professional, on time and ready to go at the time you agreed to start. It’s disrespectful, and it goes both ways.