Ink n Iron '07

Published: 02 October, 2009 - Featured in Skin Deep 147, July, 2007

Way back in the annals of time, well 1994 to be precise a new tattoo convention made it’s first appearance at Aston Villa Leisure centre, Birmingham UK. It was the first show in the UK to incorporate a custom bike show into a tattoo convention and it worked well, tattoos and bikes have always gone hand in hand and there have been a few bike shows and rallies over the years that have incorporated a small tattoo show, so why not the other way round…


Well it must have worked because now in its 14th year Ink ‘n’ Iron has just had one of its busiest shows ever. This actually makes Ink ‘n’ Iron the longest running show in the whole of the UK…ever…and it’s still going strong. When you think back to shows like Dunstable Expo and how big that was you start to realise what the organisers of Ink ‘n’ Iron have done is no mean feat. Over the years the show has had it’s good times and a few years when the attendances dropped but it has weathered all this and the past few years has seen it go from strength to strength again.   

This years show was held on Sunday 1st April and was again at the Academy right in the centre of Birmingham, we were a little later than normal arriving this year and by the time we got there the place was a hive of activity as tattoo artists and trade stands alike were all busy setting up for the day ahead. The line up of working artists was long and impressive, which is something Ink ‘n’ Iron has always attracted. This years wizards of ink included Kev Shercliffe & co from Midland tattoo studio… Mandie Barber, True Love tattoo, Kidderminster… Theresa Gordon, Tradition 180, Derby… John Treherne, Skin Creation, Cardiff…Alan Hale & Stuart Lambie, Alzone, Gloucester…Stuart Muirhead, Hepcat tattoo, Chelmsford…Mr Nu, Top dog Tattoo, Portsmouth…Ruth & co, Eternal tattoo…Jo Harrison, Modern body art…plus loads of other great artists from all over the country, sorry to all
those not mentioned by name but there was just too many to list everyone.   

I just had time to have a quick wander around and get a few shots of some of the awesome bikes on display before the doors were opened and the crowds of people streamed in. The engineering and paintwork on show had to be seen to be believed, the sheer imagination and not to mention the cost of putting some of these bikes together is unreal.   

One thing the organisers do is provide plenty of entertainment throughout the day and over the past few years they’ve had some really good alternative, piercing and suspension acts on, and this year was no exception. For the first time at any UK convention the Psycho Cyborgs were performing but more about that later. First up were a band called The Dixsons and then a bit later in the afternoon Red Line, I didn’t get chance to really listen to the bands as I was busy in the studio.    

Anyone who has been to Ink ‘n’ Iron will know that if they’ve entered the competitions the queue for judging is always a long one so this year to try and alleviate this problem the judging was being done all day rather than in a shorter time period, thus hopefully making the time spent waiting to be judged a lot less. The Academy was packed solid and this made hard work out of getting round to actually see what work was being done but from what I did see there was some cracking pieces being done, some of which I managed to get in the studio.   

At this point I’d like to make a plea to all convention goers both artists and collectors…If you would like to see your artwork in print in the UK’s best selling tattoo mag, by that I mean Skin Deep then please hunt me down at shows to photograph your work, it’s a lot easier for you to find me than it is for me to find you… thanks.   

As the show was so busy it was really difficult to find people, I’d see somebody with a really great piece of work and then not see them again al day, that’s how busy the show was. About the middle of the afternoon was the tattoo parade on the stage for all those who wanted to show off their artwork to the appreciative crowd, then came the attraction nearly everybody had been waiting for…the Psycho Cyborgs, now this show was definitely not for the squeamish, it started with a girl being led onto the stage, injected with some green slime through her cheeks and into her mouth, she was then pierced through her chest with what looked like about 10mm thick hooks and suspended…this was just for starters, other items on the agenda included a guy having nails knocked into the top of his head, a hole drilled through his arm…yep you did read that last bit correctly, nails knocked into his head with a full size claw hammer and a hole drilled through his arm with a normal cordless drill and then a rod put through the hole and nuts put on the end. There was all this and a lot more; you had to see it all to fully appreciate the performance. Whether you like or hate this type of show I have to say everybody in the crowd seemed to enjoy watching and I didn’t see anybody faint.

Once the Cyborgs had finished then came the presentation of the trophy’s for both the bike and tattoo competitions and this was followed by the last band of the day…Beholder and then close.   

One thing that I’ve noticed about Ink ‘n’ Iron, particularly over the last couple of years is how quick the day goes by, I never seem to have enough time to do everything I want to get done, maybe it’s just me getting old…………….


Text and Photgraphy: Paul Callaby


Skin Deep 147 1 July 2007 147