Madrid Tattoo Convention - 2005

Published: 08 April, 2011 - Featured in Skin Deep 123, July, 2005

For the first three days of April the 7th ‘Convención internacional de tatuaje’ was held in the centre of Madrid...

One should keep in mind that the art of tattooing and piercing is not yet the accepted phenomenon in Spain as it is in northern or western Europe. One Spanish Tattoo-artist told me: ‘Of course tattoos have been seen in Spain for a long time, but it was considered by most Spanish people as a thing from abroad, something exotic so to speak. There were no famous Spanish tattoo-artists and there was no tattoo-scene in Spain. About ten years ago, things started to change quickly. Tattoos became accepted by the public, in particular by young people. I think beach life had something to do with it as well. Every summer masses of tattooed tourists can be seen on Spain’s popular beaches. It’s not surprising that small towns like Tarifa (famous in the whole world for it’s excellent surfing) have lots of tattoo-shops. Spain traditionally has a rather conservative catholic population. Being ‘decently’ dressed on all occasions was imperative for a long time. Not the sort of atmosphere in which you would expect a passion for tattoos. Besides, till 1975 Spain was basically a dictatorship under the Franco regime. Some people visiting Spain tend to forget about that as Spain has quickly changed into a modern western democracy after that. Needless to say that people in the days of Franco were not very occupied with body-art. It was not an environment in which subcultures with explicit dress codes such as flower power or punk would thrive.’

So that’s all changed rapidly, and boy, did they do a good job! Spain now has a very lively tattoo-scene with artists known around the world for their high quality work. Just take a look at a tattoo done by Robert Hernández. 

Traditional catholic symbols, deeply rooted in the Spanish culture, have found there way into the art of tattooing now. One might say that tattooing itself stormed Spain’s beaches from abroad, but Spain developed more or less its own style, which is a bit similar to the Latino gang tattoos from Mexico and American cities such as L.A. Apart from all the usual styles, a surprising amount of religious images could be seen. Crucifixes, holy virgins and dramatic images of Jesus during his crucifixion.

A Dutch tattoo artist: ‘It’s the first time we’ve attended a convention in Spain and I like it. It’s quite different from the conventions I’ve been to in other European cities. A nice friendly atmosphere and some well-known artists I’ve never had the chance to meet before. There’s a downside to, I can’t work for the low prices my Spanish colleagues are working for. Some visitors are really shopping around to find the cheapest tattoo, they don’t really seem to care what it depicts or who’s the artist. Not exactly my idea of getting a tattoo, especially if it’s your first one. There’s a bit of a language-barrier too, I must say. In Holland, Germany, Belgium or the U.K. I can easily communicate with my customers and that makes my work a lot easier. Here only few people speak a bit of English. God…It takes me hours here just to find out what colours my customer has in mind!’

The tattoo convention in Madrid was very well organized, with special attention for the media. Apparently, organizers Mao and Cathy considered it to be very important not just to cater for people with a passion for tattoos. They also wanted to keep the general public informed about tattooing. Special press-conferences were held to make sure that the ideas behind body art in general and the Madrid convention in particular came across well. A reader and a CD-R with information about the convention was available for all press-related visitors.

The stage-performances also showed a very open minded approach. Apart from the usual, there was a broad variety of amusement, such as Art-fusion for the more artistically minded people, Indonesian and Afro-Brazilian dances for those with a special interest in ethnic related culture, and spectacular body suspensions for those who could stomach it. The Senegalese percussion in particular got the crowd going. The group Vatea Tahiti, most of who’s members were attending the convention as tattoo-artists, gave away some very impressive performances as Polynesian dancers/musicians as well. The stage was occupied almost non-stop during the three days of the convention. Even laymen, who only came in to have a glimpse at the ‘mysterious world of body art’ stayed for hours just enjoying what happened on stage. Children obviously loved every minute of the performances, so that gave parents more time to walk around and see what they’d come for: tattoos and piercings. 

Did these abundant stage spectacles distract the public’s attention from the core-business? Not at all. The quality of the work in Madrid was just as good as on similar sized conventions elsewhere in Europe. The latter usually promote their international character by boasting the names of attending well-known foreign artists. In Madrid, where lots of well-known artists from all around the world were present, they specifically promoted Spanish artists. It could most definitely be described as an international convention though. Traditional Japanese tattoos were done by hand, as were Polynesian style tattoos. It was, all in all, a fairly sized convention in three big halls, with an extremely good atmosphere. Well over 50 studios were present with artists from around 15 different countries. I’ve never visited the Barcelona convention, but I hear it’s similar, though a bit bigger. Based on my experiences in Madrid I’d say both are definitely worth a detour if you’re (on holiday) in Spain.


Winning Tattoo (best of convention): 

Realistic portrait of Marlon Brando as ‘The Godfather’. Winner: Mariano. Tattoo done by Dorian, Black Indian Tattoo, Spain


Attending Artists:

Tattoo-Sum Spain

Atomic Tattoo Catalunia

Mad Science Tattoo & Shin-a-Matic Holland

Pro-Arts Spain

Spirit of Tattooing Spain

Next Generation U.K.

Queen of Hearts Portugal

Five Two Tattoo U.S.A.

Vision Tattoo Art Gallery U.S.A.

Tattoo Devil, Berlin Germany

Étnico Catalunia

Cult Body Piercing Spain

Anonim Tattoo Belgium/Italy

Gabo Tattoo & Art Cannes Mexico/France

Mao Tattoo Supplies Spain

Mao and Cathy Spain

Serviescenic Spain

Micromutazione Italy

Dock Jeckyll Spain

Body Art Spain

Enrico Gambini Tattoo Italy

Alkimia Spain

Tattoo Magic Spain

Corazón Loco Catalunia

L.T.W. Catalunia

J.H. Tattoo Catalunia

Sparrow Tattoo U.S.A.

XXL Spain

La Bottega dei Tatuaggi Italy

Good Things Canada

Urban Tribe Spain

Icarian Tattoo Czech Republic

S.D. Spain

Black Indian Tattoo Spain

David Tattoo France

Human Fly & Image Tattoo & Dimitri


Triple-X Tattoo U.S.A.

Wicked Tattoo Spain

Tattoo Mania Canada

Zinova Spain

Transform Ink U.K.

Soul Tattoo Spain

Tattoo Moon Catalunia

Mutant Tattoo Spain

Pro-Arts Tattoo Studio Catalunia/Ibiza

Charrangus venta láminas Spain

Hyriu venta laminas Spain

Big Red Machine Spain

Gonzo Tattoo & Dark Shadow Germany/Poland

Tattoo Lucio Spain

Atyka Body Works & David and Son France

Tigre Tattoo Spain

Tattoo Vitamin & Iguana Tattoo Spain

Yellow Blaze Japan

Buena Tinta Spain

Only Tattoo U.S.A.

Galien el Alien Spain

Ultimate Skin U.K.

Cristian Benvenuto Argentina

Carla Tattoo Spain

Body Arts Studio Colombia

Spirit of Dragon Belarus

Apocalypse Tattoo U.S.A.

Shimada Tattoo Studio Japan

Tahiti Tatau Tahiti

Tattoo Life Spain

Lauro Paolini Spain

New Star Spain

Liquor Brand Spain

Silver hand jewellery Galicia

Clarabella Tattoo Wear Holland

Used in the world Italy


Text & Photography: Michiel Van Nimwegen


Artist Profiles: 
Skin Deep 123 1 July 2005 123