I regret to say that I’ve noticed a growing trend at the major conventions, the ones most in the public eye such as London used to be, or Paris.
A number of tattooists are no longer coming in order to tattoo visitors and clients and the three-day convention is being seen as just an opportunity for a sort of personal performance to present their signature pieces at the Best of Show.
In a certain sense I do understand them because winning prizes at these prestigious conventions can change a tattooist’s career. However by doing this they undermine the main reasons why I for one organise tattoo conventions. First and foremost it is to give tattoo lovers a chance to take advantage of the event to have a session with one of their favourite tattooists.
This is why conventions came about in the first place, as a get together and a chance for special opportunities for the entire international tattoo community.
Getting back to the present day, I can understand that artists need to keep a number of different factors in mind when they take part in a convention, not least the financial cost. All the more reason why having a full agenda right from the start is no doubt a great help.
But I find it really disrespectful that months before the convention even takes place, participants post on their social media accounts that they are “fully booked”. It means a total lack of consideration for the visitors who will be there and zero respect towards the organizers of the event. It simply serves to feed their ego.
In my opinion, everybody should leave space at the convention for a walk-in, for at least a small or medium sized tattoo. That way anyone who happens to be there has a hope of getting tattooed by their favourite artist.
And the same thing applies to those who show up with a single client they are going to tattoo over the three days with the sole objective of competing in the Best of Show. All this does is turn the convention into a grand performance with a view to winning an award. What sense does it make for me to invite a tattooist who won’t consider any requests from the public and just wants to show off as Best of Show?
It is also a total lack of respect and regard for the wellbeing of the person who has to cope with a large scale tattoo which should actually take a number of sessions to execute and months of work. A backpiece takes time, each session represents a step for the client and should also do so for the tattooist. Not to mention the health risks for a person getting tattooed for 20/25 hours over three days.
I hope that we may soon see an end to this practice. As I’ve said, I understand that a tattooist can choose how to spend two out of the three days of the convention but they must also always bear in mind the visitors who will be coming and show respect for what it really means to take part in an event of this kind.
Dear tattooists, it’s you I’m talking to here: if you want to excel, you can bring a backpiece or body suit to the competition that you’ve already done in your shop. A piece you’ve done working in a professional manner, taking all the time and care that such a large scale tattoo requires. I trust that these reflections of mine will be taken on board. Because otherwise, as I prepare to embark on a new run of conventions with the Gods of Ink, it will be the first and last year of Best of Show.