Liverpool Tattoo Convention 2008

Published: 01 July, 2008 - Featured in Skin Deep 162, July, 2008

With its long and much-celebrated nautical history, Liverpool always seemed destined to someday host a tattoo gathering, and this year its time has finally come.

Alex

Tony and Hazel Nicholls from Design 4 Life set about the task of organising the show, and it’s rather befitting that 2008 should see Liverpool’s first tattoo convention with the city being the proud bearer of the European Capital of Culture accolade this year, and what better way to celebrate cultural diversity than with a tattoo show?

Liverpool has been on the receiving end of a vast and seemingly endless regeneration scheme of late; more traditional landmarks and their diverse architecture nestle comfortably alongside the striking new builds. It’s a place with one foot in the past and one in the future, and there’s a damn sight more to it than simply being the birthplace of The Beatles…

The sun cracked the flags on Saturday morning as the artists and traders swarmed into the Guild of Students building on Mount Pleasant, preparing for a weekend of brisk business and hot from the needle tattoos. A steady influx of people made their way into the show as soon as the doors opened and machines all around sprang to life, the undertaking of fresh ink heralded by that glorious buzz.

The layout of the main hall and subsequent areas encouraged patrons to explore the venue and seek out the vast array of artists and vendors, and Tony and Hazel made good use of the complex by hosting the bands and burlesque shows in a separate auditorium and, mercifully, away from the working tattooists!

We were treated to a range of remarkable artists from all over the UK and the globe; Singapore’s Sam Weiming, Denmark’s James Kiley and Spain’s Eze Nunez worked alongside UK studios such as Magnum Opus, Evil From The Needle and Self Sacrifice. It was a truly eclectic meeting of styles and the work being produced over the two days was nothing short of excellent.

A spot of judging is always a pleasure when there’s so much outstanding work on show, and I had the joy of examining quite a few stunning tattoos created both at the convention and elsewhere. There were plenty of jaw-dropping pieces, including a fabulous and very dark collaboration between Bez from Triplesix Studios and Indigo’s Myth. Other highlights included a Leah Moule chestpiece, a couple of bus-stop cocks, and more of Billy The Bastard’s crisp graffiti work.

The Liverpool show was made even more special by the introduction of a very exciting first for a UK convention; the tattoo duel! Chris Jones and Chris Hatton’s Day of The Dead battle took place on Saturday afternoon, with both of the Physical Graffiti guys working on their respective pieces for six hours. The ballots opened upon completion and a very close-run race saw Chris Hatton grab the glory by just a handful of votes.

Bez and Myth’s horror pin-up duel unfolded over the course of Sunday and they proceeded to tattoo their own twists on the theme onto the shins of a very lucky lady by the name of Lisa. Myth prevailed with the poll, but it was Lisa who was the real winner here, walking away with a trophy, a bottle of Jack Daniel’s and two stunning pieces of work!

After-show parties on both Saturday AND Sunday night at the notorious Krazy House consolidated Liverpool’s reputation as a city that knows how to throw a proper shindig, including what is possibly a new record for the number of tattooed people participating in a conga!

Touted as ‘the first annual Liverpool Tattoo Convention’, we certainly hope that it will be a mainstay on the circuit after such a strong and positive initial showing. Everyone appeared to be enjoying what was on offer, and the only thing that was amiss was a floor plan, hardly a major gripe. Congratulations and many thanks to Tony, Hazel and their tireless crew who kept the ship on course throughout the two days and grafted hard to ensure the needs of all were tended to.

Great work, a wonderful atmosphere, beautiful weather and reasonably priced drinks. What more could you possibly ask for?

Neil

‘What’s that you say? A tattoo convention in Liverpool? About bloody time!’ I have wondered why Liverpool had been missed out on the tattoo show scene for years. I mean it has good road/rail/air links so it was nice to hear that finally someone with the balls took the plunge, especially being the European city of culture and all that this year. The gang at Design for Life in the city gave it a go and boy, what a cracker it was!

The venue was reasonably large with various rooms for the artists’ booths and clothing companies. The second room, which housed many of the artists had a glass roof so these guys all had the benefit (or disadvantage) of having the sun beating down on them for the weekend, many having to wear sunglasses to work.

The line up was a bit special and included artists that I’d not seen or heard of before. Sam from Skin Label Tattoo in Singapore was visiting the UK for the first time and Gustavo from Brazil (Stattoos) applied some real nice Polynesian-inspired work. As Alex has mentioned there was the first UK outing for a tattoo duel on both Saturday and Sunday, which gave the crowds that little something extra to watch and get involved in. All four artists produced some eye-wateringly wonderful tattoos: that seemed to set the theme for the weekend as the quality of tattoos that I got to see and photograph was very impressive. The photo studio was a bit of a trek to get to but once I was in there I had a constant stream of visitors all with beaming smiles and proud to be showing off their new ink.

The organisers Tony And Hazel asked me if I would be one of the judges over the weekend. I always find this a real honour to be asked and really enjoy doing it. Purely from a selfish point of view as I got to look at all the new and old tattoos up close and personal. The judging system seemed a little long-winded with each person having to show the judges their tattoos twice, then having to mark each tattoo in five different sub categories.

Some pieces of note for me where the stunning portrait of Johnny Depp as Sweeny Todd, a superb portrait of Kevin Bacon (don’t ask!) on Dawnii by Helen Brown of Gung Ho and some great work from the boys at Self Sacrifice in London (look out for a feature soon!). Liverpool tattooists weren’t left out and Sister Sammy spent the weekend working her little socks off as were the gang from Global Tattoos in Moreton. I found this a real nice touch, as sometimes other studios form the same area can have a tendency to be a bit protective of their ‘patch’ but Tony and the crew seemed more than happy to open the doors to their neighbours, which was really nice to see that tattooing is becoming a friendlier place in which to work.

Sunday seemed a little quieter than the previous day, which is unusual, but then maybe as the sun was cracking the flags, folk decided to enjoy the weather and stay outside.

Saying that the isles were still nicely heaving although not too much so you couldn’t move freely.

As the first Liverpool Tattoo convention came to a close, I managed to have a wander around and catch up with many of the artists and all bar none said that this had been a really nice show to work and nothing was too much for the organisers. I have to say as a first attempt at a tattoo convention and considering that we seem to have a plethora of tattoo shows at the moment, this will be one that stands out as a good ‘un! Well done to all concerned.

Winners

Saturday

Best Black and Grey Small
Gizz by Garreth Papworth @ Taboo Tattoo, Devon

Best Black and Grey Large
Brendan Curry by Joe Myler @ JMD’s Body Art, Ireland

Best Colour Small
Jen Dobson by Sister Sammy @ Fallen Angel, Liverpool

Best Colour Large
Caroline Henderson by Sivo @ Global Tattoos, Moreton

Best Of Day (Saturday)
Craven by Bez @ Triplesix Studios, Sunderland

Sunday

Best Cover Up
Jamie-Lee Love by Ian @ Comedian Tattoo, Scotland

Best Realistic
Damien Leyland by Myth @ Indigo Tattoo, Northwich

Best Bodysuit
Shone by Phil Kyle @ Magnum Opus, Brighton

Best of Day (Sunday)
Mark Lennon by Rodrigo Souto @ Self Sacrifice, London

Best of Convention
Steve Toye by Eze Nunez, Spain

Credits

Text & Photography: Neil & Alex

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Skin Deep 162 1 July 2008 162
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