Maybe I changed the names, maybe I didn’t. That’s irrelevant. Over the next three days, you will read my observations, endeavors, interviews and surprising encounters during my first tattoo expo that was held in Upstate NY last weekend. I have to say WITHOUT hesitation that it might have been my first, but it will certainly not be my last. Maybe next year I will do more writing, maybe I’ll get my training and be a piercer, maybe I will just get a large latte and watch the crowd for the day. Oh, oh…maybe do a fashion critique article on the attendees and what they (attempted) to wear, which would be entertaining as hell. Doesn’t matter. I’ll be there. So grab a beverage and get a snack. It is going to be a fun and entertaining ride!!!
Okay, I’m here at the tattoo expo and I’m already overwhelmed. I won’t lie: there is a certain kind of intoxicating feeling you get when you hear those needles buzzing. It’s a rush. It’s like when a gambler walks into a room of slot machines where the machines are ringing and humming, and the sound of coins are dropping everywhere. It is that consuming. Now, once you get past the sound of the needles, the environment takes on a whole new ….. ambiance? Everyone from all walks of life are here. Some attendees are just curious–some are serious die-hard ink fans. It was certainly a large variety of people. For the avid people watcher like myself?…it was like Christmas. That’s the best way I can describe it.
Once I got my pass, met and thanked the sponsors that allowed me to attend, I ventured out to size up my surroundings. There were at least 100 various booths, either doing tattoos, piercings, selling merchandise or some other related business. Initially, I talked to a few people that seemed eager to trade “tat stats”–how many, of what, who did it, etc. I stopped at several booths and looked at all different kinds of ink– live and in photos. I had a chance to meet some great people thanks to a few of my friends, and also got to reconnect with an artist that did some work on my ankle who I hadn’t seen in a long time. I think I was a bit overwhelmed and just took my time reading, looking, browsing and making eye contact–which is still a big step in an environment that’s new to me. If I was backstage at the Michael Kors show during fashion week?…I’d be flitting around like a bee. But this was new ground. So I was taking my time, taking it all in.
Although I promised myself I wouldn’t get anything that required ink, I felt I should get something. (That’s the shopper in me talking.) I already have a tattoo artist whose work I’m very pleased with, plus I already had an appointment on the books for my next piece. I think loyalty is very important when your pleased with previous work you have got, plus referrals through word of mouth is the best advertising. But before I could leave the expo room, I had to walk by the piercing section which was FILLED with all sorts of jewels that caught my eye. So I treated myself to two gorgeous belly rings which will look awesome in my belly button piercing this summer. As far as other body piercings go? That’s it for me. Not counting a couple of pairs of earrings that I have had since I was 12, piercing any other part of my body is not my cup of tea! (Or so I thought right then…)
The thing that kind of amazed me is the people’s desire to get ink whenever they get the urge. I mean, as a girl, I personally know the feeling of smelling a perfume sample in a magazine and falling in love with it RIGHT AWAY. If there was a 24 hour Sephora, I’d be there in a heartbeat to buy it. Cosmetics and fashions can easily be an impulse buy, and that is exactly what the companies want–an impulse buy. Even if you aren’t thrilled with your purchase, you can use it for a bit, sell it or return it. Then you can just go out and get a different one. When a person wants to get a tattoo, though, I would think that people would put some thought–some serious thought–into it. It’s yours, ON YOU! Forever!
When people come to these expos, I think this would be the time to really decide if you do want some ink and, if that’s your decision, to find the person to do it. Use this as a way to get to know the artist and see examples of their work. Talk to previous customers, see what they have (an artist almost always makes sure they have clients their to show off their work), make your decision based on that. But there are the people who just want ink NOW and don’t really care who does it. They just want it. Did I say now? Unless for circumstances beyond my control, if my artist couldn’t do my work, I’d either ask him for a personal reference or do a lot of research. Flipping through a few picture books and a two minute “Hi. How much?” conversation isn’t going to do it for me. But that’s how I am. I’d like the people who I work closely with in my life to be nice, informative and professional. A tattoo artist is a professional as well and should be thought of no different.
I decided to call it a night when they were giving last call for bikini mechanical bull riding sign ups. Yeah… well… shoot. I had just dropped my bikini off at the cleaners the day before so there was no reason for me to stay. That was my cue, so I chuckled and left. Tomorrow was another day.