Brighton Tattoo Convention 2008

Published: 01 January, 2008 - Featured in Skin Deep 156, February, 2008

A huge success for the South coast resort’s first tattoo convention.

Early starts are rarely a welcome prospect in the Skin Deep office, but the allure of 2008’s first convention coupled with the fact that this was Brighton’s maiden voyage was more than enough to see us gladly stumbling out into the darkness, keen to meet our 5 am departure time. Brighton is widely regarded as a city that enjoys a plethora of cultural influences and its thriving creative industries (the successes of which have earned Brighton its ‘Silicon Beach’ moniker) make it a well-suited habitat for a tattoo convention.

Upon reaching our destination, we were met by both glorious sunshine and a considerable queue of tattoo aficionados eager to reacquaint themselves with old friends and catch a glimpse of new ink.

The convention’s location is stunning to say the least; the racecourse’s hilltop setting overlooks the sea and afforded a superb viewpoint for Saturday’s glowing sunset. The venue’s interior wasn’t too shabby either and offered two floors of tattooists and traders, leaving enough room for the photo studios to be situated on the third floor. The downstairs area consisted of two large rooms with access to the upper floors in between them and the spacious walkways between the booths helped keep any bottleneck issues at bay.


Opening time arrived on Saturday and the air was soon filled with the wonderful sound of artists readying their machines for a day creating fresh works of art for anyone lucky enough to secure a few hours of their time. One of the joys of any skin show is the sheer diversity of styles on display and Brighton played host to a varied, talented, and predominantly British ensemble. The talk was predominantly of this year’s planned tattoos and the latest additions to the convention circuit, a sure sign of the increasing interest in tattooing and a great excuse for ink-filled weekends away!

One of the most nerve-wracking factors with any new show (and something which must keep the organisers awake at night) is; how many guests will actually turn up? Thankfully, Brighton was heaving from the word go and visitors poured into the racecourse, fervent in their quest to see what this new addition to the circuit had to offer. The typically chilly January weather saw to it that many attendees had their ink under cover upon arrival, but the atmosphere (and possibly the heating) soon encouraged them to strip down and get into the spirit of things.


The quality of the work being produced was of a very high standard and made for fantastic viewing, which in turn kept Neil and the other photographers busy both in the studio and around the booths as they endeavoured to capture all of this wonderful artwork. This was reflected in the contests that took place at the close of each day and the judges certainly had their work cut out in deciding the winners. I managed to leave the SD stand for a few excursions and checked out some stellar work, such as Jin from Middleton Tattoo outlining a magnificent looking dragon on a chap’s back and Modern Body Art’s Dawnii applied the finishing touches to a beautiful swallow. Saturday’s festivities ended slightly earlier than anticipated, so we filed out and headed into town to chew the fat and recount the day’s events.

Sunday bore witness to another 11 o’clock start and within a couple of hours, the venue was even fuller than the previous day, with a number of local residents dropping in simply out of curiosity. Again, there was much to see as the artists embarked on predominantly new projects, and the omnipresent buzz that heralds fresh ink filled the building with its dulcet tones for a second full day. A very special after-party was laid on at the close of Sunday’s festivities and the weekend was seen out in style with a very special performance from Vince Ray at the Barfly venue, providing a great finale to a great convention. Working a show for the first time was both exhaustive and great fun, and seeing so many people enjoying themselves kept me smiling all weekend long. A few ‘après-ski’ drinks were much appreciated after a hectic couple of days, and as we reflected fondly on the success of Brighton, we raised a toast to the next one.

The only minor complaints that I encountered from those attending related to the catering and bar facilities (which were both issues beyond the organisers control), particularly the size of the bar, although the speed of service was said to be impressive! A floor plan would also have been beneficial for those looking for a particular artist, but at the same time this encouraged guests to really explore the entire venue. In all fairness, to have such slight grumbles at a show’s debut is testament to the level of organisation that has been involved with Brighton. Woody also deserves some kudos for thinking outside the box with his idea of asking artists to paint a toilet seat in their chosen style and put it up for a charity raffle. It was one of the more left-field ideas of the weekend and served up an alternative art medium and a few giggles for a good cause, with the proceeds being donated to a local children’s charity.

2008 is shaping up to be a busy year and amongst an influx of new shows (including Skin Deep’s Tattoo Jam August 1st - 3rd), Brighton is certainly a vibrant, bustling and colourful addition to the circuit. Woody also has a few grand plans for this year’s London show, but he’s keeping them concealed for the time being...

Get yourself down to Brighton for next years’ show, You will not be disappointed!


Large B&G: Billie Laidlaw by Neil Bass @ Tattoo FX
Small B&G: John Hardy by Woody @ Woody’s Tattoo Studio
Large Colour: Gary by Richard Pinch @ Richard’s Tattoo Studio
Small Colour: Paul Heatie by Bez @ Triplesix Studios
Best of Day: Mandy Holden by Brendan Mudd @ Inkfish
Tattoo Studio

Large B&G: Mark By Woody @ Woody’s Tattoo Studio
Small B&G: Lianne by Jason Butcher @ Immortal Ink
Large Colour: Tony by Derek Campbell @ Derek Campbell Tattoos
Small Colour: Perry Matlock by Arran Burton @ Cosmic Tattoo
Best Of Day: Diva by Caesar @ Self Sacrifice Tattoo
Best Flash: Inma @ Magnum Opus Tattoo


Text: Alex Photography: Neil


Skin Deep 156 1 February 2008 156