Whether you’re passionate or simply curious about tattoos, the convention in Milan is the place to be. It is undeniably one of the most interesting tattoo conventions in Europe and a safe bet artistically speaking as long as you’re not agoraphobic.
The weather is spring-like for the opening of the sixteenth Italian convention. Heavyweight tattoo artists from all over the world have settled in four of the five rooms of the Quark Hotel – the fifth room (Sala Andromeda) being mostly dedicated to tattoo supplies. This year, the layout has been redesigned and a new space - la sala Mizar - has been created so as to welcome fifty more artists including some of the best tattoo artists in Japan namely Horiyoshi family III, Horiken, Horimasa and Horitishi I.
This new layout is much appreciated by all considering the growing number of people coming from all over Europe. The five rooms are quickly filled with a huge crowd and it becomes harder and harder to stop by the artists stalls and leaf through their books. The very few artists who are not yet fully booked have their agendas filled with appointments in a couple of hours - the tattoo machines will be busy all the way through the convention for sure.
It is more tempting than usual to get a new tattoo done when you see the quality and diversity of the artists’ work. You can choose from an old school tattoo by Chad Koeplinger (On The Road, USA), a realistic piece by Chuey Quintanar (Tattoo Land, USA) or a traditional Japanese tattoo by the Taiwanese from East Tattoo. Most of the revered giants present here simply hypnotize us with the quality of their work.
The convention gave a big section to sixty American artists or so including Jeremiah Barba (Long Beach, CA), Brad Fink (Daredevil Tattoos, NYC), Jun Cha (LowRider Tattoo), Todd Noble (Black Cobra Tattoo, Maryland) or Tim Kern (Tributation Tatto, NYC) just to name a few of them. The English tattoo ambassadors to the conventions were not to be missed either with Jason Butcher, Alan Hale (Alzone Tattoos), Jeff Ortega & David Bryant (Evil from the Needle) and Phil Kyle from Magnum Opus amongst those who can hold their heads high too.
Even if the programmes of the Milan and the London conventions are not much of a surprise from one year to the next, some of the newcomers, such as Guen Douglas (25 to Life Tattoos, Pays-Bas), El Carlo (Aloha Tattoo, Spain) or Cristina Garcia (Orlando, USA) deserve to be mentioned. Meantime, the closing contest mostly honoured Italian artists such as Marco Galdo (Trafficante d’Arte), Andrea Afferni (Afferni Tattoo), Miss Arianna (Skinwear Rimini) or Welt (Yama Tattoo).
Apart from seeing the work of the tattoo artists, you could also admire the work presented in different exhibitions such as Polynesian-inspired artworks by Pili Mo’o or Edgar Hoill’s monochrome photographs that portray the Chicano culture which were already shown at the London Convention but are nevertheless still mind blowing.
Elsewhere, you could also listen to a lecture dedicated to the Ukiyo-e, an artistic movement that appeared in Japan in the fifteenth century that was narrated with the help of woodblock printings.
Alternatively, you could also attend the show of Ludus Magnum who gives us a demonstration of strength, and it is certain that some people in the audience were more than interested in attending the Miss Pin-up pageant and the body painting show – which are becoming staple parts of most of the big European conventions.
As I leave the Ata Hotel at the end of the show, the first seconds of “Combustion” in my headphones make me think that Milan is quite comparable to Meshuggah: a somewhat cold and vast machine whose parts perfectly fit together but leaves you with no time to breathe - a machine which is terribly brilliant.
Tattoo Convention Milan
A Fior di Pelle
February 11th -13th 2011