With all the talk about what goes on in D.C., a person could be cynical about the people who live and work there — at least where politicians and government fat cats are concerned. Tattoo artists on the other hand, represent all that is good, creative and inspiring to come out of our nation’s capital. And of the past 10 years, the DC Tattoo Expo has been bringing them all together.
“It’s a really unique culture. DC itself is such a melting pot of people from every culture you can imagine tit’s a lot easier to get a tattoo subculture going,” says Anna Carswell, communication director for the annual event.
The DC Tattoo Expo is put on by Exposed Temptations Tattoo and Baller, Inc. Greg Piper (founder of the event and owner of Exposed Temptations Tattoo in Manassas, VA) is very much of the old school vibe. He was mentored by Jack Rudy and Brian Everett, and so for him, the expo is an opportunity to blend the cultures that include the legends of tattooing, new school artists, tattoo celebrities and the growing number of tattoo enthusiasts.
“Being our tenth year, we wanted to do something big as a Thank You to everyone who has made it a successful show,” Carswell says. “One thing that was pretty special, is that we brought out Chris Nuñez (tattooer and owner of Handcrafted Tattoo and Art Gallery, and contestant and judge from Miami Ink and Ink Master) to hang out and judge the tattoo contests. He had people lined up to meet him and it was a really amazing experience for everyone.”
More than 400 artists, representing some 200 studios, filled the show floor at the Crystal Gateway Marriott for the three-day event, January 10-12th. Attendance was off the charts at more than 10,000.
“One thing that was a little different this year was the most highest number of international artists ever. We had artists from Spain, Italy, Germany, England, and China,” Carswell says. “It adds a wow factor for people because these artists have such unique styles and it’s a one-in-a-lifetime chance to be tattooed by them.”
Fans were kept entertained by burlesque performer Cervena Fox, the world famous Captain & Maybelle “Vagabond Side Show” and a Miss DC Pin Up Contest. But the real action was in the booths where artist were turning out living inkworks. Carmelo Gomez, from Lucky Gypsy Tattoo, Midlothian, VA, won Tattoo of the Day and Best of Show, and Ink Master Laura Marie, from Atomic Roc Tattoo, Rochester NY, earned two consecutive Best of Day awards.
Speaking of Ink Masters, as a special event, Marie joined Dani Ryan, Frank Ready, Jason Vaughn, Josh Payne, and Creepy Jason in a Rematch with the Masters Tattoo Competition. Each contestant was given the starting design of an eagle and a knife, and allowed to finish the tattoo in their own style. The skin belonged to local veterans and the winning artist — Frank Ready, earned a prize for himself and a donation to his favorite charity.
DC Tattoo Expo
January 10-12, 2020