A quick Google search for Kansas City Tattoo comes up with 16 million results. And right at the top is the Kansas City Tattoo Arts Convention.
Villain Arts, which puts on tattoo shows around the country, once again came to Kansas City, Missouri with a vengeance — this year adding an additional room to the show at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center to accommodate the more than 500 artists and thousands of body art enthusiasts attending.
“Kansas City has always been a great spot for tattooing — a lot of tattooing legends have come out of the area. But nobody has come in and put on a tattoo ‘extravaganza” like Villain Arts,” says emcee Dr. Carl Blasphemy.
Villain Arts is known for bringing as part of their entourage stars of the TV shows Ink Master and Best Ink — and even living legend Lyle Tuttle was along this time. More than half of the tattoo artists were from outside Kansas City, and that’s one of the things that Dr. Blasphemy said makes the convention special.
“It exposes people to a lot of artists they’ve not had a chance to before. In addition to that we highlight and showcase the best artists in that area whether it be Kansas City or wherever we go. We bring in artists from all over the country that they may have seen on TV as well as people they’ve maybe never heard of — artists like Uriel Winfree, Matty Darkside and Sterling Grice who’s names you may not hear on TV, but they are phenomenal artists.”
Among the local shops represented was Black Card Tattoo Collective. The shop’s owner, Russell James Fisk, was recently killed in a shooting, and a memorial at the shop’s booth featured photos of Fisk, along with candles and a bouquet of white flowers. Many who attended the convention donated money to help pay bills to keep the shop up and running.
Best of Show winners were Orville and Bob Bitner, Catalyst Arts Collective, from Independence, MO, and Elijah Nguyen, of Skin Stories, in Spring, Texas.
In addition to tattoo artists, the convention featured vendors from the tattoo community, a live painting demo by Villain Art’s own Troy Timpel, and joining Dr. Blasphemy on the center stage were sideshow performers including the one and only Enigma and Alakazam the Human Knot.
The Kansas City Tattoo Arts Convention was enjoyed by all — from tattoo fans to artists to everyone who put on the show. Dr. Blasphemy reported that Kanas City proved to be “southern hospitality at its best.”
“From the police officers to convention center help, everyone was great to work with — when the union labor guys came in to set up, they lined up and shook our hands like they were a baseball team wishing us a good game. Kansas City was a big show with a really great hometown feel.”