The first impression you get, looking out from the window of the plane, is that there are a lot of trees and snow. An endless carpet of forest with lakes in between. So it's kind of a surprise when you land in Helsinki to find that the airport is so modern and efficient. Not a polar bear in sight.
Due to the cultural influence of neighbouring Russia, Helsinki has a quite different character from other Scandinavian capitals. Helsinki is a sea-town par excellence and an exciting, dynamic place. Half the city seems to be water, and the tortured geography of the coastline includes any number of bays, inlets and a speckling of islands.
If Finnish Metal bands aren’t enough reason to visit Finland, tattooing here is like it was 15 years ago in States. There´s a lot of emerging artists and the scene isn’t that mainstream. Sounds great, right? Helsinki is cool without - as yet - being self-consciously so.
The Helsinki Ink 2011 Convention is the most extensive ink happening between the east and the west and it was held for the 17th time this year. The Finnish Tattoo Artist Association organised their first Helsinki Ink Tattoo convention back in 1995. Helsinki Ink is free for the tattoo artists and it´s one of the oldest tattoo conventions in Europe.
The entire weekend, the place was teeming. Roughly 3,000 people came through the door to see 65 foreign artists from all over the world - from Japan to Russia, Singapore to Bulgaria, Spain and so forth. There were also 25 Finnish tattoo artists representing Finnish tattooing talent at its core.
The venue was besieged with tattooed folks from all spectrums of tattoo colour wheel; rockers, rollers, Goth kids, skate punks, serious collectors, first-timers, last-timers, beauty queens, freaks and geeks.
Helsinki Ink lasted for three days with constant action on stages with competitions and performances. From sideshow performers like sword swallowing, and burlesque artist Luckyhell and LouLou De’Ville.
After cruising all day at Helsinki Ink, the organizers had even more entertainment to offer in the after-party at Bar Bäkkäri in the heart of Helsinki City. The after party had an excellent line up of bands for two days in a row and the place was packed every night.
Leena Lumilampi at Bonafide Tattoo, Finland
This kickboxing beauty has been doing amazing work recently. This was her first time in Helsinki and afterwards, she will continue her road trip and visit conventions around Europe if you want to catch up with her.
Johanna at Bluebird Tattoo, Sweden
This 28-years old Swede is already a veteran when it comes to tattoo conventions and has been in the business for ten years. Johanna’s favourite tattoo conventions are in South Africa and she has also illustrated a children´s book.
Alex at House Of Pain, Sweden
Straight from the city of Stockholm, black and grey tattoo artist Alex has been tattooing for over 6 years now. This was Alex´s second time at Helsinki Ink.
Mattson at Zombie Tattoo, Finland
Mattson is a amazing talent and is one of the finest Finnish Tattooing artists today. He has been working as a tattoo artist since 2001 and he’s been awarded as the best Finnish tattoo artist 2006. He specialises in old/new school and oriental styles and does mainly custom work.