Evian is located close to Lake Geneva at the foot of the Alps, and benefits from its exceptional environment with the world-famous bottled water that bears its name. The seven thousand inhabitants of Evian-les-Bains will no doubt remember this event vividly, as there isn’t a tattoo studio to be found here at the point where France and Switzerland meet!
Organiser Dats and his brother Gabriel established the Evian convention last October, attracting over four thousand visitors in two days to the conference hall.
This year’s event saw a similar turnout, something that Dat attributes to the show’s location: “It’s in a strategic spot, because Lyon and Grenoble are very close by, and Switzerland is only across the lake and approximately thirty minutes by ferry.” Dats runs a tattoo studio in the nearby town of Thonon-les-Bains with his wife Vanessa, who runs the shop. Dats tell us, “Previously there was a convention in Lausanne and the last one took place in 2003, so up until now nothing was organised in the area and I wanted to challenge that by organising a tattoo convention here to Evian, a place famous for its tranquillity and its natural source water.”
This weighted challenge wasn’t without its trials. “Many tattoo conventions are organised by tattoo artists and I am not an artist. For sure, people were a little bit surprised, especially because I made some artists come over for the show whom never travel in Europe.” Dats is credited with creating the first French website dedicated to tattooing over 12 years ago: Tattoo Passion now sees over fifteen thousand visitors per day. It’s a great site for those fluent in the parlance of French and features forums, a tattoo convention list and contact details for tattooists in French-speaking parts of the world. www.tattoo-passion.com
The Friday evening saw a private seminar from Nate Beavers on tattooing techniques, such as needle groupings, reference material, and much more besides.
Having a total surface area of two thousand square metres spread over three levels, Evian was able to welcome ninety tattooists, piercers and traders from all over the world. Representatives from the USA, Japan, China, England, France, Polynesian Islands, and France were present, with some quite exceptional talent on display. Nick Baxter, Jeff Ensminger and Nate Beavers were amongst the top foreign draws, as was Horitoshi, a practitioner of tebori who utilises bamboo implements.
Borneo tattoo artist Ernesto founded Borneo Head Hunters Tattoo Studio in Kuching Sarawak in 1998. Borneo Headhunters Tattoo and Piercing Studio aims to promote the rich traditional art form of tattooing which has been an integral part of the Iban community for centuries. Here Ernesto gives us an insight into the rich culture and history of traditional Borneo tattoos. “I suppose I was born to be an artist. I was already good at art and drawing long before tattooing” said Ernesto. “I was exposed to traditional tattoos (not tattooing) before I knew about electric tattooing. I learned electric tattooing before I took on traditional tattooing.
The traditional tattoos culture is at the brink of extinction, but modern tattoos are more in-trend. Usually if I have an Iban come to my studio to have a tattoo or tattoos, I’ll have a talk with them about the importance of preserving this culture. Hence, the only way is on skin and maintaining the original design and meanings. Most people would go for it these days, but it’s generally a dying culture. Fashion and modernisation kills cultures and traditions.
We cannot go against time. This applies everywhere in the world. So I try in every little way I can to help preserve it”.
Exhibitions & Entertainment
There was a special painting exhibition by tattoo artists from all over the world, with their works based on the theme of ‘Death’. Each of the paintings was auctioned off on the Sunday night and the proceeds donated to La Ligue Contre Le Cancer, a French organisation dedicated to fighting cancer. They held a conference before the convention to explain their work, their goals, and how they utilise the funds that they are allocated.
The beautiful and very popular Satomi provided evening entertainment at Evian again this year. She put on a sexy Japanese bondage show and encouraged the crowd to participate – she even invited some onstage! She was followed by the French rock group Piege á Reyes (meaning ‘dreamcatch’) who took to the stage with their unique, pure sound of smooth voices and good guitar work. The band hail from Evian and both write and produce all of their own albums.
With a modest €10 admission charge for the two days (and free for anyone under sixteen) the Evian Tattoo Convention was accessible to everyone and its success this year has ensured next year’s show will go ahead as planned. Pencil the 16th to the 18th of October 2009 into your diary if you would like to come along and enjoy this wonderful weekend. More details can be found at www.eviantattoo.com.