Dublin 09 - Tattoo Emerald Isle Style

Published: 30 June, 2010 - Featured in Skin Deep 181, January, 2010

Well first things first, I must confess that I was, prior to the 7th Annual Dublin Tattoo Convention, a tattoo convention virgin (from a photographer/journalist standpoint; I have been to conventions before, they don’t let just anyone cover these events you know) and boy, did I get my cherry popped.


I was unfortunately not able to make the half day Friday, however, from what I hear there was quite a party that I missed out on. I did manage to arrive and set up in plenty of time for the opening of the Saturday and stayed through until after the awards on the Sunday evening.


Dublin, being a comparatively small tattoo convention, consisted of one large and well laid-out main room with both working artist and trade booths with a main stage that held all of the entertainment throughout the weekend, from bands to belly dancers. There was also, in true Irish spirit, a large bar that stretched the entire length of the aforementioned main hall & another just outside the convention area as part of the well maintained hotel complex, both serving to keep everyone suitably jolly and topped up for the duration of the event.


One will often hear complaints about the layout of a tattoo convention, mainly concerning separate smaller rooms, congested areas and the lack of atmosphere this can produce. In this instance I can report that, due to not biting off more than they can chew, and keeping everything held within one spacious hall, this was not a problem. With a great atmosphere throughout the weekend and enough space to ensure that people weren’t getting in each other’s way, you couldn’t really ask for much more.


The opening of the convention on the Saturday didn’t produce massive queues of people eager to get in the door as one might have hoped but did quickly begin to fill up. It was for the most part pretty cold on the Saturday, which developed into a bit of a logistical nightmare from a photographic standpoint as everyone was wearing jackets and full length trousers hiding the majority of their tattoos. Later in the evening the convention did warm up a bit and, as anyone that has been to a tattoo convention will testify, it doesn’t take much of an excuse for people to put their skin, and ink, on show and soon after I had a collection of willing victims (I mean participants…) to be photographed.


The Sunday brought with it a larger crowd of punters, many of which where feeling a little sorry for themselves after Saturday night’s partying. Thankfully it also brought more warmth inside the convention and even a bit of sunlight for the smokers outside, as well as those that wanted a bit of fresh air. Being busier than the Saturday (as many conventions are) with lots of fresh ink on show & larger pieces that where worked on from the Saturday or even the Friday taking shape before our eyes, everyone was on top form and their was a notable buzz being created in anticipation for the awards on the Sunday evening.


The weekend attracted some big names from within the tattoo fraternity including artists such as Bret Zarro & Jack Mosher: however, for me, the standout artists from the weekend where several artists living and working within Dublin. One of these artists was Hungarian, Jani, who produced some great realistic colour pieces and brought home with him two awards for best leg & large colour with several more of his pieces on show, as well as being talked about throughout the weekend. Another notable artist was another Hungarian, Atilla, again producing breathtaking realistic colour art (see a theme developing yet?), who throughout the weekend remained relatively quiet, working mainly on one piece in his booth in one of the corners of the main hall, which later snapped up the best in show tattoo and was easily the most photographed piece of the weekend, with a large queue of people wanting a photograph (I guess it doesn’t hurt that it was on the thigh of the beautiful Serena either).


In true Irish humour, one guy got up on stage stark naked (well, with purple tights around his ankles) to show off a large smiley face tattooed across both butt cheeks, for the tribal category of the competition, no less, much to the appreciation of the crowd. This ironically seems to be a recurring theme, anyone who attended or read the review of last year’s Dublin Convention should remember the man who had both butt cheeks tattooed at the same time, by two artists.


One small niggle that I did hear several people comment on and complain about was the lack of runner-up accolades within the competition. Being a small convention that attracted around 170 entrants to 10 categories I can sympathise somewhat but perhaps this is something that should be taken into consideration for next year.


A nice “And finally” to the awards ceremony was the honouring of both Johnny Eagle’s contribution to Irish tattooing as one of the longest working tattoo artists in Ireland & the Irish Seal Sanctuary’s independent work in saving baby seals.


Being the only established tattoo convention within all of Ireland, the Dublin Tattoo Convention draws punters from all over the country (I travelled over 100 miles to be there!) as well as many travelling from the mainland to show their support for the event. Because of this there was a great mix of people, however all like-minded and friendly. I met many fantastic new people, had a chance to hang out with old friends and can honestly say that I not only left the convention on the Sunday evening with a camera full of photos and a catalogue of great memories but also left with some solid new friendships. Not to mention several new additions to the ever-growing list of new artists that I am craving tattoos from.


All in all I really enjoyed myself as I am sure most people did (there’s just no pleasing some people though). I sincerely hope, and have all the faith in the world, that Paddy and his crew will keep The Dublin Tattoo convention at the forefront of tattooing within Ireland and thank them for a great weekend. Same again next year? To be sure, to be sure…





Antony Weston-Jani @ Tattoo Prime



Izaic Geoghegan – Joe Myler @ JMD’s, Waterford


Small Colour

Jessie Carbery – Walter @ Classic Ink



Silvana Stuth – Remis @ Tattoo Prime



Lucas - Levy Tattoos



Bernie – Chris @ 3baltat2



Gar Bar Goon – Bugz


Large Colour

Niamh Bennett – Jani @ Tattoo Prime


Black n Grey



Friday Jones

Best in Show – Serena Quinn - Atilla


Text and Photography: William Neil


Skin Deep 181 1 January 2010 181