Last weekend I attended the Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention–I had a great time! Not only was it fun because I’m a huge fan of body art, but also because I enjoyed some quality time with one of my best homegirls and her amazing crew of friends.
The convention itself felt pretty intense. It was held in the Pennsylvania Convention Center–a massive structure right in Center City–and it was filled to the brim with people. Close to 1,000 tattoo artists set up booths in the center’s main exhibition space, and thousands more eager clients packed the room from Friday to Sunday to get some ink. Let me tell you–it got clammy. Of course, when you have a bunch of people in one confined space, temperatures are bound to rise. But when all those people are getting tattooed? Forget about it. Body temperatures normally climb during the tattooing process–an immune system response to the trauma. After a while, I just had to deal with it.
The scene was a mixed one: Non-tattooed parents brought their sons and daughters to browse, groups of teenage kids attended to rebel by getting tattoos, female pornography stars gave autographs, celebrities from reality TV tattoo shows posed for photo-ops, and half-naked fully-drunk men removed their shirts to show off massive chest and back tattoos (some of which were quite ugly). But most of all, thousands of clients congregated that day to meet with some of America’s best artists for appointments–artists who they would probably never see due to distance. And they all walked away with smiles.
I can’t wait to go to the convention next year. I might follow my friend’s cue and play something called “Convention Roulette.” It’s an easy game: First you take out a whole bunch of cash, then you find a cool design made by a visiting artist, and then you get it tattooed to you. You live once, right?
Here are some photos from the weekend.