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Conventions have become a staple of the tattoo industry and there are more tattoo events happening around the world than ever before. However, for someone who isn't familiar with the tattoo world and hasn't attended a convention before, they can be rather intimidating. And because of this, we've decided to create a guide for our audience to better understand the ins and outs of tattoo conventions. In this guide, we discuss everything from how to get tattooed at a convention to the amazing entertainment that many shows have to offer. Take a look at the gallery below to learn more about the exciting world of tattoo conventions and let us know if you've attended one in the comments section on Facebook.

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What are Tattoo Conventions?

Tattoo conventions are events that allow hundreds of artists, collectors and spectators to participate in two to three days of live tattooing in a single weekend. Tattoo conventions occur throughout the world and many of your favorite artists attend specific conventions every single year.

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Why are Conventions Great For Clients?

Tattoo conventions are great for clients because they have access to talented artists from around the world. For example, a person can travel to a convention and get tattooed by an artist from the United Kingdom, New Zealand, etc. For many people, conventions are the one and only opportunity to get work done by their favorite artist—without traveling to their home country.

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Why are Conventions Great For Artists?

But conventions are also great for artists. Conventions allow artists to interact with other people in their industry—which in some cases leads to once in a lifetime collaborations. Local artists have the opportunity to learn from the best of the best in person—with many conventions holding seminars for tattooers.

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How Do You Get Tattooed at a Convention?

While some artists will allow walk ups at the convention, if you want to get tattooed by a top notch artist, you will need to book months in advance. Once you notice that an artist has posted about a convention that they will be attended or a convention nearby introduced their attending artists, you should hurry and make an appointment with them ASAP. Most tattooers only make time for one client per day, therefore slots will fill up extremely quickly.


Conventions and Tattoo Etiquette

Tattoo conventions are very dissimilar to an artist's home shop because they are filled with thousands of people walking around and hundreds of artists working side-by-side. If you are attending a convention as a client or spectator, be conscious of an artist's working space and be mindful that they are there to work. However, most artists working conventions are happy to answer any questions you might have about their work or availability. 

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Conventions and Tattoo Collaborations

Over the past several years, tattoo collaborations have become very popular at conventions. Because conventions bring together artists from around the world, many tattooers take this as an opportunity to collaborate with friends from other countries. For example, one of the biggest tattoo collaboration teams is The Rat Pack, who have worked together at the London Tattoo Convention, the Empire State Tattoo Expo and the Golden State Tattoo Expo. The Rat Pack is comprised of Sam Barber and Jak Connolly from the UK, Steve Butcher from New Zealand, Yomico Moreno from Venezuela, Dave Paulo from Portugal, Benjamin Laukis from Australia and sometimes Paul Booth from the United States. 

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Conventions and Vendors

In addition to hosting tattoo artists, every convention features a number of shopping vendors for both artists and clients. We've seen everything from food to clothing to art to motorcycles marketed to clients at conventions, whereas artists can purchase inks, the latest machines, etc. Not to mention, the INKED Shop frequently sells their top merchandise at many of the top conventions.


Conventions and Contests

Tattoo contests are a staple of the convention scene. They allow both artists and collectors to showcase their work for the chance to win an award (and sometimes more.) Some categories for tattoos completed prior to the convention include 'Best Black-and-Grey,' 'Best Small Color,' and 'Best Neo Traditional.' However, the most popular and most prestigious contests of the convention are 'Best Tattoo of the Day' and 'Best Tattoo of the Show.' These contests are judged only with tattoos completed at the convention, with the judging often becoming extremely competitive.

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Conventions and Entertainment

Last, but not least, almost all conventions feature some type of entertainment during the show. Many popular acts include fire dancing, live music and burlesque performances. Some of these acts are appropriate for all ages, whereas others are strictly adults only.