It is here. The final day of the expo. I have had so much fun and hope to be able to attend next year. I am not sure if I will go as part of the media or just grab a weekend pass and a Dunkin Donuts gift card and make it a whole weekend out of people watching. THAT we all know is a story in itself. So, let’s close this out…
Sunday. The last day of the tattoo expo. Part of me wants to just say “thank heavens.” I had done a lot of walking and talking up to this point, and I would be lying if I didn’t say I wanted to finish up soon. I was anxious to get the day started off on the right foot so I could close the weekend out on a high note. Too bad my feet started to hurt in less than an hour (poor choice of shoes–my bad). Okay, Sassy’s body, I get it: I’m pushing my limits. The expo was a little quieter than the day before, but I think that was because most of the artists were starting to break down and call it a weekend. That and the fact that judging was going on for many pieces that had been done this weekend and before. Photos of tattoos were being taken and submitted for the various contests. A lot of family members were there to cheer on their loved ones for all different types of trophies. Other people were just staying to see if their favorite artist took home a prize. Although it was a competition, everyone–artists as well–were cheering each other on. It was a feeling of family.
I had two main objectives on this last day, and I wanted to get them done early so I too could break down and get home to rest. I had to get info from my new pal Casey, and as usual, she helped me tons. (You’ll being reading about those conversations soon.) I got what I needed to close out my research. Part one, done. On my way through, I saw Karla who pierced my ear the day before. What started as a conversation about my piercing took a turn early on and brought us to a subject–not related to tattooing and piercing at all–that we found a common bond that we were both (unfortunately) pros on. Although the conversation was not uplifting at all, it was refreshing to talk to someone who knew exactly what I was talking about. I think Karla was just as happy to have someone who “got it”, who also understood things others didn’t. An instant connection was created, and friends were made. That is what is great about this industry: two different people that most likely would have never met now know each other in a way that goes beyond the needles and ink. That is what makes this industry awesome. Plus it solidified the idea that Nora had on earlier in the expo: it gives you a reason to start a conversation that eventually leads to a friendship. And there is nothing wrong with that.
On my last pass-by, I said goodbye to one of my friends and had the opportunity to meet with some of his family. They were funny and personable, and oh duh… their ink was fabulous (of course)! They were there to support my friend and to enter the contests going on. Here is what totally threw me: although, once again, I began talking to them about the stories of their tattoos, the conversation turned towards me! The “mom” HAD to have picked my brain for at least 20 minutes about my writing, my love for fashion and my involvement in the industry. She kept flattering me by saying she liked how I took control of my look. She said I looked stunning yet approachable. Wow! ANYONE in my line of work would know that is the ultimate compliment. We continued to chat a bit more about my line of work as well as theirs for several more minutes till I had to get going. “Mom” insisted I give her my business card and stay in touch on Facebook, which I have. After a few more good bye’s and see ya soon’s, I called it a day. As I looked around the convention hall on my way out, all I could do was smile. I did it!
Working and researching at the convention made it fun to combine my line of work with those in the tattoo industry. Tattooing is not just a business anymore–it’s an art form which is often hushed or goes unnoticed. If someone had a Monet in their possession, I would bet you will know about it or even get offered to see it. But if you have a fabulous piece done by Jay or Brian or Anthony or Noah down the street, probably not many people would take the time to learn its story. That really is too bad, in a sense. But there is a feeling of pride when you have a tattoo since that piece of work is yours and yours only, designed for you or by you, created for you, worn by only you. It’s true, fads come and go like the tide. I’m in fashion, trust me I know! But tats aren’t fashion–they are expressions, they are achievements, they are beliefs, they are memorials, they are personal. They are yours, and they always will be. Before you create an assumption about someone who has ink, know that over 24% of Americans -male and female- between the ages 18 and 50 have ink. That’s gone way up over recent years. And the number isn’t dipping at all. A tattoo means something to the wearer. Take a shot before you judge to stop and ask them about the story of the tat rather than the “What were you thinking?” remark. You may learn something you didn’t know. And better yet, you may make a friend you would have never connected with ever before. And in these days of endless plug-in communications and technology, how freaking awesome is that??
So for myself, I can honestly say I am not done with my ink. I have one piece to be done any day now, and after that I want to design a piece to complete some work I have on my ankle. Piercings? Yeah, think that is done. I might….. might… get my other tragus done. But if I do, it won’t be for a while! I know how to take care of my skin to keep me and my ink looking fresh and young for as long as I can. In the industry I’m in? …. I’ve got knowledge on my side. And with the great new friends I’ve made? ….I have people I can trust and enjoy in my life, tattoos or not!