Venturing to Minnesota in the heart of the winter months might seem downright crazy to some people — especially when do so means taking off some articles of clothing. But that’s just what more than 8,000 attendees did to show off their ink at the Minneapolis Tattoo Arts Convention.
The 9th annual event, held at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis (indoors, thankfully), played host to some 700 tattoo and piercing artists.
“There were people from all over the country — the west coast was represented in a really large way, and they were all hanging out here in Minneapolis where it was negative seventeen degrees,” says event promotor Elizabeth D’Ambrosio.
Twenty-year veteran tattoo convention organizers and promoters, Villain Arts, is well-known for their World Famous, star-studded, traveling tattoo conventions in US cities like Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Kansas City – to name a few – once again put on a spectacular show. In attendance were a number of celebrities from reality TV tattoo competitions, like Ink Master, Best Ink and Tattoo Nightmares. Visiting artist seminars for professionals in the tattoo industry are also a feature at the shows, and include topics on social media/marketing, technical tattoo application techniques for working artists, and Q & A’s with longtime tattooers and legends in the business.
A pre-party at the Gamut Gallery Minneapolis, where party-goers got a look at the “Spit Shade” exhibition curated by tattooo artists Lindsee Boyer and Nathan Varney, kicked off the event.
The three-day convention was the big draw (pardon the pun), and included live tattooing and piercing, a variety of sideshow acts including performances by the Enigma, Marlo Marquise, Black Hearts Burlesque, Olde City Sideshow, Hell-Cat Penny – something unique we might see more of at tattoo shows was a drone racing course run by another kind of buzzing little machine.
For artists and tattooed enthusiasts there were more than 40 contests where they could show off their best best ink —- categories included everything from Most Unusual and Color Infused Black & Gray to Original Flash. The Best in Show award, for a piece that specifically created at the convention, was won by Luis Inda, a California artist from Killer Tattoos, Los Angels, who inked a “West Coast style” black & grey inner forearm design that meshed a rose, heart and filigree. Luis also earned one of the top spots in the daily competitions with a black & grey calf piece of a Native American warrior and grizzly bear.
Villain Arts is on road again with upcoming shows in Atlanta (March 16-18), Chicago (March 23-25), Louisville (April 13-15), Baltimore (May 4-7), Houston (May 18-20), Kansas City (May 25-27) and Denver (June 22-24). If you’re anywhere near one of their conventions you’ll want to mark down the dates as a must-see happening.