With lots of the world’s top tattoo artists and hundreds more up-and-comers slinging ink, the Biggest Tattoo Program on Earth made a resounding return to the Las Vegas Valley this weekend with a record number of artists and individuals.
“It does not matter if you started a year ago or if you started 30 years earlier,” stated Exposition founder Mario Barth. “Today is as much about showcasing your work as it is discovering.”
After a two-year absence, the yearly tattoo expo and education conference hit the Las Vegas Convention Center with about 825 tattoo artists and about 55,000 convention participants from worldwide. Thepublic exposition, which kicked off Friday and concluded Sunday, likewise featured two days of training and workshops, taught by the veteran tattoo artists for aspiring convention newcomers.
“We examine their work when they’re applying, so we understand their potential,” Barth said of the amateur artists. “If you just take the best, just how much better can you get? The newbies will most likely be much better One Decade from now than the best today, anyhow.”
For the first time in the exposition’s 14 year history, the tattoo market’s conservation and digital sides were also on display screen.
The occasion worked as the official launch for the National Association for the Conservation of Skin Art, an industry organization in the making given that 2014, said association chairman Charles Hamm.
Hamm, who manned a huge booth Saturday with physician Dr. Edward Cornett, proudly showed the Cleveland-based company’s signature innovation: framed cut-outs of tattooed human skin.
Eliminating and preserving tattoos allows families of lost enjoyed ones to “conserve their story,” Hamm said.
Hamm, 60, an accountant, said the concept pertained to him a couple years ago while discussing the value of his body art with pals.
“I’ve spent about 150 hours at $200 an hour getting tattooed,” Hamm said. “I’m going to pass away someday and could get creammated like it never ever occurred.”
“However these have definition, and I wish to keep them.”
The task, called “Conserve My Ink,” is coordinated with regional mortuaries and funeral houses, Hamm said. Households of NAPSA members who participate in the job receive a $2,000 “last wish benefit” for conserving one of the person’s tattoos.
“We truly want this to occur,” he said. “And certainly not everyone is passing away tomorrow.”
On the artistic side, more tattoo artists are moving away from sketch pads in favor of computer screens, stated expo spokesperson Lindsey Busch.
Digital tattoo sketching on platforms like the Japan-based Wacom tablet allows artists to imitate design and positioning of a tattoo on a client’s body, Busch stated.
“The artist takes a picture, develops the tattoo and shows you what it’s going to resemble on your skin,” Busch stated.
Exposition founder Mario Barth, 49, is on the growing list of popular tattoo artists utilizing Wacom. A 36-year veteran in the industry, the Austria native launched the annual convention in New Jersey in 2001 with just 150 tattoo artists.
By 2009, the convention was up to its peak of 750 artists and 52,000 individuals in it’s first year in the Las Vegas valley. After a slight decline over the next four years and a year off in 2013, Barth moved the convention from Strip casinos to the Las Vegas Convention Center with hopes of growing it to a record number.
“If you bring the best, individuals will certainly come,” Barth stated.
Robby Gill, 48, a shop owner from Kingman, Ariz., waited patiently outside a meeting hall Saturday for the possibility to meet Barth.
Gill, who said he likewise owns 3 shops in Florida and has actually participated in tattoo conventions in both Miami and New York, hailed the Las Vegas convention as “the very best in the market.”
“I simply wanted to thank him and show my regard,” Gill said. “Other shows try and tempt you in for an experience, but this is quality-based.”
“No knockoffs items here and the focus isn’t really on which models are revealing the most skin,” he added.
Other program participants, like Karina Flores, 25, participated in the program’s body art competitors. Saturday’s program awarded prizes to owners of the very best tattoos in six different classifications.
Flores, competing in the “best black-and-white tattoo” competition, displayed her Guardian shoulder tattoo, of a woman’s face with an owl on top, to a crowd of about 200 viewers.
Like most of Saturday’s spoke with convention-goers, Flores highlighted creativity and meaning in picking tattoo art.
“My tattoos reflect me and they feature a story,” she said. “And it helps when they look good.”
Contact Chris Kudialis at [email protected]!.?.! or 702-383-0283. Find him on Twitter: @kudialisrj