There are many tattoo conventions in The Netherlands but all of them fade in the light of The International Amsterdam Tattoo Convention.
The event, with its three days, is slightly longer than we're used to. Most of the tattoo expos are one-day events with few lasting for the whole weekend. One of the organizers Marten Mulder tells us that the duration of the event is very important for this convention. We chose deliberately for three days because the audience and most importantly the artists come from all around the world. The length of the event makes it worthwhile for international artists to come. It's not the only thing that attracts foreign visitors, Mulder says, "The international atmosphere is important too and lets not forget about the city itself with its coffee shops and red light district. You can't find it any where else in the world. We are very proud that famous artists keep on coming back to Amsterdam and its amazing atmosphere. They return thanks to the experience that we gained throughout the years".
The organization of this event took almost a year. It's not very surprising when you look at the event's busy program. It is an extremely varied event with artists from as far apart as Russia and Argentina. The booths are spread onto two floors and different rooms, which at first is slightly confusing, but thanks to many maps displayed and program booklets everything becomes clear.
The slogan of this year's expo is 'The World and Beyond', but the cosmic theme is nowhere to be found. The artists are not dressed up nor are the performances linked to the celestial, even though the yearly Halloween convention in Purmerend proves that it can be done. The tattooers in Amsterdam are mainly concentrated on their own illustrations. Many of them have weekend specials, often with Amsterdam themes. The ready-made drawings are, however, not very popular and since many of the artists still look for clients, visitors can get a last minute custom work appointment. Most artists are keen to reserve some time later on the weekend too. This easy-going vibe makes this the perfect event to walk from booth to booth and browse through the portfolios of the many international artists, before choosing one.
The most eye-catching and awaited individual on the convention is Aman Durga Sipatiti. The 38-year-old artist is visiting the convention in Amsterdam for the second time. His presence is especially notable because he hardly ever shows his face outside his parlour. "I visit just a few conventions across the world. I made an appearance at the Sydney Tattoo Convention twice and other than that just Melbourne Tattoo Convention, Ireland Traditional Tattoo Festival and Tattoo Expo in Indonesia." we hear from the mysterious artist. He is the founder of Durga Tattoo in Jakarta, Indonesia and is now in Europe for two months. Besides the Netherlands he will also be traveling to Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, Germany and Poland. “I wish we had reserved two years for this trip! We came to Europe to practice the traditional hand tapping only. We will be doing a lot of Mentawai and Dayak Borneo tribals, but also some custom artworks highly influenced by Indonesian tribes.”
The biggest celebrities of the convention are Dan Gold and Phill Kyle: "The Amsterdam Tattoo Convention is certainly one of the top events in my tattoo agenda. Many conventions call themselves international, but in Amsterdam they really mean it! Tattoo artists come from every side of the world for this weekend," Dan Gold tells us. In Amsterdam he is representing his 13 Ink Tattoo Studio, whilst Phill Kyle came with Magnum Opus Tattoo.
During the three days of the convention the visitors saw everything that is linked to the tattoo lifestyle. A large amount of styles were represented this year, from traditional, maori tribals to old school sailor tattoos. The visitors were proudly showing their pieces too, be it cartoon characters, realistic portraits of loved ones and celebrities, full body suits or colourful painting-like back pieces.
The Dutch capital is well-known for its infamous coffee shops and red light district, but the tattoo convention justifiably showed the artistic and professional sides of the city. Of course the Amsterdam party spirit is well represented at the after party where the artists can finally give in to the free drinks and dance while the DJ is spinning some records. Amsterdam is heavily influenced by different cultures and it's beautiful to see all these influences come together at the convention. People of all skin colours and backgrounds gathered together sharing their love for body art. The International Amsterdam Tattoo Convention proves once again that the human skin is a perfect canvas for tattoo art.
Those Famous Red Lights
De Wallen, also known as Walletjes or Rosse Buurt, is a designated area for legalised prostitution and is Amsterdam's largest and most well known red light district. This neighborhood has become a famous tourist attraction. It consists of a network of roads and alleys containing several hundred small, one-room apartments rented by 'sex workers' who offer their services from behind a window or glass door, typically illuminated with red lights. Probably not the greatest of things for a city to be famous for, but better than not being famous for anything at all...
Best of Saturday: Riet – Sir Lexi Rex, Spidermonkey Tattoos, Olympia, USA
Best of Sunday: Cyro – Ueo, Ueo Tattoo, Como, Italy
Best of Show/Best Black and Grey Large: Veronica – Miquel Bohiques, V Tattoo, Valencia, Spain
Best Color Big: Luc – Sascha, Dragon Tattoo, Eindhoven, Holland
Best Black and Grey Small: Hans – José Lopez, Lowrider Tattoo Studios, USA
Best Color Small: Lyz – Gerrit, Tattoomania, Apeldoorn, Holland
2nd Color Big: Janya – Victor Policheri, Vip Tattoo, Seattle, USA
2nd Black and Grey Small: Giorgio – Brent McCown, Tattoo Tatau, New-Zealand
2nd Color Small: Rosa – Thanassis, Erevos Creations, Greece
3rd Black and Grey Large: Stanislav – Bartosz Panas, Caffeine Tattoo, Warsaw, Poland
3rd Color Big: Megan – Sir Lexi Rex, Spidermonkey Tattoos, Olympia, USA
3rd Black and Grey Small: Julien – Brent McCown, Tattoo Tatau, New-Zealand
3rd Color Small: Wesley – Johnny, Dragon Tattoo, Eindhoven, Holland