Roughrider Ink & Iron Expo
Bikes and tattoos —- talk about a can’t miss show. The sixth annual Roughrider Ink & Iron Expo combines the skill, artistry, and expression of custom tattoos and custom motorcycles.
“We kind of go by the beat of our own drum,” says Courtney Ficek, Director of National Events for Jade Presents which put on this show as well as concerts, festivals, and live events that aim to connect local audiences with unique experiences. “We’ve really formed this tight knit community where there’s a lot of talent and it keeps more fierce every year.”
The Ink part of the expo is obviously tattooing. Iron refers to the bikes with more than a hundred beautiful machines on display.
“We’ve always said that it’s just a passion of artistry and it goes together well,” Ficek says. “This particular event has been a passion project for many of us because tattoos and bikes are in our blood.”
“Bikes and tattoos have always gone together, but the tattoo industry has come a long way,” Ficek adds. “We have a lot of people that just come for the tattoos (and visa-versa, the bikes) and it opens their mind up to the other side.”
More than 2,500 people came to the 2019 event where they were able to meet some 70 talented tattooers, not only from midwest states including ND, Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as from around the world — and hopefully get some new ink form their favorite artists. Among the artists in attendance were Scotty Munster, Eli Bauman, Jake Meeks & the Fireside Tattoo Network, Kelly Severtson, Jay Purdy and Michael Seidling.
“We have a lot of local talent,” Ficek says. “There’s a real sense of community, and the expo is a great opportunity for artists to check out each other’s booths and learn different techniques — that’s one reason we’ve kept out show kind of small.”
On Thursday before the show, veteran tattooers Jake Meeks, out of Memphis, and Kelly Severtson, from Chicago’s Goodkind Tattoo, put on seminars covering subjects on finding your own style, digital design and dynamic color theory.
Tattoo contests in 27 categories were highly competitive. Justin Nudell, of Zoltar Tattoo, right there in Fargo, won Best of Day on Friday and Sunday, and Bence Kormos, from Hungary by way of New York, earned Best of Day Saturday and Best of Show. There’s also a “most regrettable” category of which the winner (or loser) received a free laser removal — Flaming Cheetos Eyebrows was a top (or bottom) contender.
The RIIE is held at Fargo’s Veterans Memorial Arena (typically home to hockey games as you might expect) and a side venue was turned a lounge where those 21 and over could hang out, watch live bands, like Jane Doe and the Johns, the Knotties, and Mikey D, and burlesque shows featuring Vendetta Vixens. Keeping with the “misfits” theme of the expo, kids had their own special day with face painting, temporary tattoos, games, and a performance by the students from Elevate Rock School. A portion of the proceeds from the “mini misfits” events, admission tickets and a silent auction for custom painted motorcycle helmets benefitted the local chapter of the Make-A-Wish foundation.
“The camaraderie and the atmoshpere at the Roughrider Ink & Iron Expo is something I’ve never experienced before,” Ficek says. “It’s like a big party, everyone works their asses off and has a blast.”