One of the oldest towns in France, Toulouse was founded by the Romans in the second century AD and is dubbed the ‘Pink City’ because of the colour of the principal local building material: brick. Located between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, 730km from Paris, Toulouse is considered to be a very important cultural and arts centre of France. It’s also an ideal place to organise a tattoo convention.
Since the Toulouse Tattoo Convention began four years ago, each year has seen more and more visitors attend. This year, over 3,000 people were drawn to the Diagora Centre where the convention took place over the weekend of 15th and 16th January. Taking place in what is best described as an enormous room in Labège, a district of Toulouse, more than 70 tattoo artists gathered at the convention – where they were able to exchange ideas with their peers and with their customers.
Most of the tattoo artists came from the four corners of France, with the remainder traveling from elsewhere in Europe. Marc from Toulouse’s Tattoo Ray studio was behind the event organization, together with the assistance of Pierre Laguens from La Cour des Miracles (the Courtyard of the Miracles) studio, also in Toulouse “The practice of tattooing has taken some time to be accepted,” says Pierre. “When I began tattooing in Montpelier, in the mid 90s, it was difficult to get the right materials because there were very few suppliers.”
When you look at the variety of people going to a tattoo convention, it’s easy to see that tattoos appeal to all walks of life; young and not so young, men and women, eccentrics or otherwise. In the days before the tattooing ‘craze’ began, tattoo artists tended only to showcase their know-how among those who were well versed in the art form. Now, tattooing has reached the rank of artistic discipline and according to a recent poll from ‘Ifop’ institute, one in ten Frenchmen already has a tattoo.
The artistic nature of tattooing is something that is being increasingly recognised and many tattooers also express themselves in other forms through other media such as sculpture, painting, illustration or photography. Such is the case with Patrick Chaudesaigues, who after many years of tattooing, painting and also trophy making, decided to communicate his love of tattooing and tattoo artists through a book entitled ‘tatouage 21’, in which he has gathered together a number important artists. The objective of this book is to arouse the curiosity of the public whilst also promoting an art which was practiced for several years in obscurity.
Back to the convention itself though, where 19 prizes rewarded the most beautiful tattoos of the convention in the following categories:
Saturday: small tattoos, original tattoos and best of day.
Sunday: Big tattoos, portraits/realism, best of day and best of show.
The winners in each category received paintings by Patrick Chaudesaigues. Each of these numbered, limited edition works of art is marked with an official stamp and delivered with a certificate of authenticity. A tattoo machine handcrafted by Lucien of Paris was also awarded for the winning artists in the best of day and best of show categories.
Grenouille and Alex were in charge of organising the tattoo competition and over 180 entries were received. Each entrant had their own motivations to show their tattoo but of course they also wanted to help their tattoo artist to gain more recognition. Whether a true follower or there simply out of curiosity, the tattoo convention provided a real opportunity to admire the work of the professionals and to meet the most tattooed woman in the world: Isobel Varley, 73 years old, as well as the most heavily pierced man in the world: ‘Prince Albert’ so nicknamed because of the place of some of his piercings - at the age of 79, John Lynch, senior manager to Barclays Bank during 30 years and now retired, has 250 piercings on his body, among which 150 on his face and the head.
And The Winners Are...
1st Christian tattooed by L'encre du Peuple
2nd Daniel tattooed by Spirit of Tattooing (Valencia, Espagne)
3rd Steven Chaudesaigues, Graphicaderme
1st Tiraf tattooed by Fresh Ink
2nd Tiraf, Fresh Ink
3rd Spikee'z Hell
Best of Day: Saturday
1st Tiraf Fresh Ink
2nd Alix (Versailles)
3rd Piero, La Cour des Miracles
1st Paul tattooed by Sakura Tattoo
2nd Julien, Clockwork Needle
3rd Piero, La Cour des Miracles
1st Stéphane Chaudesaigues, La Bête Humaine (Paris)
2nd Piero, La Cour des Miracles (Toulouse)
3rd Sissou, Insolit Tattoo (Nîmes).
Best of Day: Sunday
1st Tattoo Chris (Belgique)
2nd Twix, Eskimo Tattoo
3rd Julien, Dark Light Tattoo (0n the road).
Best of Show