With the 15th edition just come to a close, the renowned London Tattoo Convention once again proves itself the most important and interesting event on the tattoo scene worldwide.

This is clear, once again, from the fact that there were so many visitors who overran the historic location in the East End: tattoo lovers and tattoo collectors who brought their marvellous tattoos to the convention – the ones we are used to seeing in magazines or on social media, or shared with pride by the tattoo artists themselves. For those present, it was like a catwalk of living canvases, a kaleidoscopic bubbly cocktail of styles to celebrate the beauty of this art which is so ancient yet more contemporary than ever.

But this is no convention reserved exclusively for professionals and the trade, nor merely for those who are already well versed in ink. There was also a huge stream of curious visitors flowing through the Tobacco Dock to discover the best of this scene through such a privileged channel. Anyone who come to London knows they will only find the best here and that everything on display is the best.

London Tattoo Convention 2019

Anyone who has been here knows. There is an unmistakeable atmosphere and the best thing about it is that not only can you see the artists at work, but there are all sorts of shows you can watch too (burlesque performances and shibari, stunning girls doing acrobatics in the best circus tradition, the Vans stand – with skaters such as the amazing Steve Olson, and bikers – live music and much more…) or simply enjoy a fun day out in good company.

The high point of the event in any case is always the contest! This year too, a prestigious jury – made up of legends of the calibre of Mark Mahoney, Filip and Titine Leu, Luke Atkinson, Tin Tin and Antonio Macko Todisco – handed out awards to those who distinguished themselves with their particularly interesting work.

London Tattoo Convention 2019

There were also plenty of art exhibitions this year, including the fans of Stef Bastian, the new project of Hanumantra, the paintings of Sahwn Barber (who also held a workshop) and Chris Guest, and the photo exhibition of Zozios who for the first time showed those marvellous photos in black and white – which depict the master Horiyoshi III and his friends and colleagues – published in the book from Tattoo Life “Meeting the Master(s)”. But also: Type/Beast – Live Painting & Exhibition by Benjamin Laukis and Mayonaize, The Art of Tom Strom & Jackee Sandelands-Strom, The Art of Felix Leu, The Art of Mike Dorsey, Japanese Tattoos in Woodblock Prints, The Art of Godmachine, the ‘HANDS’ Charity Exhibition by YogiXIII, Burning Bright – A Retrospective of Works by Alex Binnie, The Art of Cam Rackam, Hardy Youth – an exhibition celebrating Ed Hardy by Andreas Coenen. If you want to learn more, please visit the London Tattoo Convention website.

It is virtually impossible to single out the name of any individual tattoo artists for special attention: we recommend taking a look at the list on the website to get an idea of the talent there was working in London.

Let’s talk instead about the work done over this three day event, with a special mention for the numerous collaborations and four hand pieces. Ryan Smith and Rich Harris won the Best of Show; Michael Taguet and Eliot Kohek did a marvellous three-dimensional Hannya in colour; Gakkin and Gordon Lettuce worked together on a piece which saw the hypnotic style of the Japanese tattoo artist blend with perfect Lettering; we saw Jenna Kerr and Ryan Ashley busily working away on two forearms (on the same lucky client!) creating an Ornamental tattoo that was elegant and feminine. Works of art with a contamination of styles which went beyond codified boundaries and surprised us with their incredible versatility and imagination.

We also came across many large scale pieces: heavy duty tattoos – entire legs, backs, arms – which left everyone open-mouthed. Carl Grace, for example, did a backpiece over the three days starting from scratch! AD Pancho did a marvellous leg piece which won second prize in the Best of Show. In order not to miss any of these extraordinary creations, be sure to follow the Instagram page of the convention over the next few days.

There were also many of the greatest supplier, presenting what’s new for the professional tattoo artists.

Keep tuned for the full reportage in the new issue of Tattoo Life and – most importantly – see you next year at the Tobacco Dock! In 2020 the London Convention will be held on the last weekend of July – save these dates: 31 July 1-2 August 2020. We’re already hard at work to organise the next edition of the event best loved and most respected by tattoo artists and lovers.

Comp results LTC 2019:
Black and Grey:
1st: Carlos Fabra – Cosa Fina Tattoo, Spain
2nd: Carlos Torres – The Raven and The Wolves, USA
3rd: Augustine Nezumi – Gimmelove by Singapore Electric, Singapore
1st: Gakkin – Gakkin Tattoo, Japan/Netherlands
2nd: John Del-Pinto – Immaculate Chaos, UK
3rd: Omar Santos – Santos Tattoo , Italy
Best of Day (Fri & Sat):
1st: Sandra Daukshta – Insiden Tattoo Gallery, Latvia
2nd: Anrijs Straume – Bold as Brass Tattoo, UK
3rd: Gorsky – Ushuaia Tattoo, UK
1st: Mads Thill – Ink Link, Denmark
2nd: Jiri Zmetek Vintr – Jarda Tattoo, UK
3rd: Horitaru, Oriental Act, South Korea
Best Colour:
1st: Ching – Orient Ching Tattoo, Taiwan
2nd: Lukas Smyku – Dead Body Tattoo, Poland
3rd: Karolina Wilczewska – White Rabbit, Tattoo Poland
1st: Dean Laibachink – Laibachink , Slovenia.
2nd: George Torrington – Avon Tattoo, UK.
3rd: Yarson – Yarson Tattoo, UK.
Best of Show:
1st: Ryan Smith / Rich Harris Collaboration – Nr Studio-Exeter/ Dark Horse Collective, UK
2nd: Alex Pancho – AD Pancho Tattoo Studio, Netherlands.
3rd: Evan Olin – Powerline Tattoo, USA

The People’s Choice“: Emanuel Oliveira – Emanuel Oliveira Tattoo, Portugal.
Mark Mahoney’s “Best Booth”: 7 Doors Tattoo, London, UK

Photos by Debora Marcati