How Do Tattoo Conventions Work: Everything You Need To Know Before Visiting a Tattoo Convention

Tattoo convention is a meeting of tattoo enthusiasts and practitioners, where visitors can get familiar with certain tattoo shops, tattoo artists, and experience the world of tattooing up close. At the convention, visitors can buy tattoo-related items, or even get tattooed by available tattoo artists, on-site.

Overall, tattoo conventions are a staple in the tattoo community, especially for those promoting a new business and trying to get the audience more familiar with their work.

Now, this all sounds fun and great, but tattoo conventions are more complex than just having people visit and get tattooed by whomever they want. If you’re planning on visiting a tattoo convention, now that the COVID-19 pandemic is finally leaving some room for us to breathe, then you should first get familiar with how this gathering works. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the world of tattoo conventions!

Tattoo Conventions 101

What Is a Tattoo Convention?

As we mentioned in the introduction, a tattoo convention is a meeting or gathering of tattoo artists/tattoo businesses, and tattoo enthusiasts. At a tattoo convention, there can be hundreds of tattoo artists from across the country or even the world.

These people gather in one place, for up to three days, where they experience live tattooing for the most part. Some tattoo businesses sell tattoo-related items or even hold educational seminars talking about tattoo-related topics, like tattoo aftercare for example.

Why Are Tattoo Conventions Organized?

Just like any other convention, a tattoo convention brings the industry closer to visitors and enthusiasts. For example, some people want to meed certain tattoo artists, get tattooed by a famous tattooist, or buy something and contribute to the local tattoo studios.

Tattoo conventions are for the majority of people a rare opportunity to meet, work with, or get tattooed by famous and world-renown tattoo artists. Collectors, for example, attend tattoo conventions specifically to obtain a tattoo from a particular tattoo artist.

Moreover, tattoo conventions are an excellent way for tattoo studios and artists to engage with new clients. Also, they can use the opportunity to collaborate with other tattoo artists.

These conventions are just a great way to gather like-minded people in one place and ensure everyone has a great, informative, and fun experience.

What Does a Tattoo Convention Comprise?

Now, alongside the obvious, tattooing-related events, tattoo convention is a pretty dynamic place to be, since there’s a lot to see and do. For example, a standard tattoo convention comprises;

  • Contests – tattoo artists and collectors showcase their work in the hope to win an award. The contests revolve around certain tattoo styles (like the best ‘black and grey tattoo’, or the best tribal tattoo’, etc.). However, the main contest at a tattoo convention is the one where judges choose the ‘best tattoo of the day/show’.
  • Tattoo exhibitions – tattoo artists, as well as collectors, showcase their work to the visitors and audience. Tattoo exhibitions are generally a part of the contest, but in some cases, the exhibited work is just a part of the entertainment during the show.
  • Shopping vendors – every tattoo convention has shopping vendors for both, visitors and tattoo artists. Visitors can buy clothes, for example, while tattoo artists can shop for tattoo equipment and inks. Prominent tattoo artists or studios generally sell their own merchandise as well.

Can I Get Tattooed at a Tattoo Convention?

Basically, yes, you can get tattooed at a tattoo convention. However, considering how many people are going to visit the convention, and also want to get tattooed, you might have to wait for a long time for your turn.

Some people even book their tattooing sessions in advance, while others try to find available tattoo artists. The tattoo convention is basically a big walk-in session, so bear that in mind. If you do get a turn, go for a smaller tattoo that won’t take too much time to complete. Tattoo artists generally have between half an hour to an hour to complete a non-booked tattoo.

Note: Bear in mind that tattoos done at tattoo conventions are not free. They might even be more expensive since the tattoo artists need to cover their travel and hotel fees for the convention. Moreover, clients are expected to tip the tattoo artist as well.

Are Tattoo Conventions Age Restricted?

Yes, tattoo conventions are age-restricted. You must be over the age of 18 and have proper, valid identification to enter a tattoo convention and to get tattooed. In the European Union, the age restriction for tattoo conventions is 16, but you need to attend the event with someone over the age of 18. The same rule applies to some states in the US as well.

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What Else Do I Need To Know Before Going To a Tattoo Convention?

Here are some other useful information to know before visiting a tattoo convention, especially if it’s your first time;

  • Keep in mind that the convention could be rescheduled – in 2020, tattoo conventions were rescheduled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They were supposed to take place this year, however, the majority of the conventions are pushed into 2021 (with appropriate restrictions), or 2022.

So, make sure to keep in mind that you might not be able to visit a local convention this year or in the near future. Even if the conventions do take place, you’ll probably have to get tested to access the even, or show proof that you got vaccinated. Face masks are required, for now, as well.

  • You’re going to pay for a tattoo – many assume that you can get a tattoo at a convention for free, but that is not the case. As we mentioned, tattoos done at conventions can be even more expensive, and you’re expected to tip the tattoo artist as well.
  • Do not rely on ATMs at the convention – this means you’ll have to bring cash in order to pay for a tattoo or anything you want to buy. The ATMs at tattoo conventions have exceptionally high fees and small transaction limits.

Also, there will be a line for sure, which means that by the time you get to use the ATM, there might not be money in it. So, bring cash and save yourself the trouble.

  • Get ready for the noise – tattoo conventions are loud. There are generally hundreds, even thousands of people, alongside the loud music, people talking, and tattoo machines buzzing. The noise will become too much at one point, so make sure to either bring headphones or earplugs if you plan on staying for a few hours.
  • People will approach you as you get tattooed – because tattooing at a convention is public, people will stop and stare at you or talk to you as you get tattooed. Strangers will come and comment on your tattoo, or even comment on your appearance.

So, if you’re socially anxious or conscious about strangers observing you in the public, then you should pass on getting tattooed at a convention.

  • Try to book a visiting artist in advance – sometimes it can be hard to get a tattoo at conventions since so many people want to do the same. So, to ensure you get in line, try booking a specific tattoo artist in advance.

You can check the artist lineup, contact the tattoo artist, pay a deposit and reserve your tattoo on time. If this is not an option for you, try to come really early to the convention and approach the tattoo artists before anyone else.

  • Bring your own food – there will be food at the convention, but there will also be hundreds of people in line for the food. So, to avoid being pushed around and waiting in line for an hour, simply bring your own food or snacks. This especially applies if you plan on getting a tattoo. Being hungry while getting a tattoo is a no-go, so make sure to have something to bite on during the convention.
  • Dress comfortably – this is pretty much self-explanatory, but dressing comfortably for a tattoo convention is simply a must, especially if you’re getting tattooed. You don’t want to be too relieving or in too tight clothes. Wear layers, which you can remove if you’re getting tattooed, without being completely nude.

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Upcoming Tattoo Conventions (For August 2021)

  • Knoxville Tattoo Convention (August 20-22, 2021) – the 9th annual Knoxville Tattoo Convention will take place at the Worlds Fair Exhibition Hall In Knoxville, TN. Check out the attending tattoo artists list to contact the tattooists and book a tattooing session at the convention. There is no age restriction for admission, but a person must be over 18 to get tattooed, or over 16 to get a piercing.
  • Dallas Tattoo Arts Convention (August 20-22, 2021) – this is the world’s largest tattoo convention tour. It will take place at the Dallas Market Center North Hall, and there will be a bunch of famous local and international tattoo artists. There is currently no information regarding the COVID-19 restrictions for the event. For more information, make sure to visit the event’s website.
  • Paris Body Art Expo (August 27-29, 2021) – if you want to check out some of the best tattoo artists in Texas and Oklahoma, make sure to visit the Paris Body Art Expo at the Love Civic Center. You can book an appointment for a tattoo with the attending tattoo artists or come to the convention and get tattooed on the spot. The convention is also giving away 1000 dollars in free tattoos, so make sure to not miss this event.
  • Inked Hearts Tattoo Expo(August 27-28, 2021) – tattoo artists from around the world will be at the California Blue Lake Casino for the summer edition of the Inked Hearts Tattoo Expo. Face masks are not required for fully vaccinated visitors, while those who are not vaccinated must wear masks, indoors and outdoors. For more information, make sure to visit the event’s website.

Final Thoughts

We hope our little journey into the world of tattoo conventions was useful and informative. We tried to paint a picture of the general experience everyone can expect to have at such an event. However, these conventions vary and sometimes have different programs and organizations. So, for more information, make sure to check a specific convention’s website, or even talk to the local tattoo artists and members of the tattoo community.

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