Manchester Tattoo Convention Part 1

Published: 01 March, 2008 - Featured in Skin Deep 158, March, 2008

Traversing the streets of Manchester on a blustery Saturday morning with luggage in tow, I staggered around haphazardly in search of the Manchester Tattoo Show’s new home at Manchester Central.

After wandering in what I hoped was the general direction of the venue (as I’m renowned for getting lost in my own home), the high-rise buildings finally gave way and there it proudly sat…Manchester Central, in all its glory. The convention itself was located in a sister part of the complex named Central One and offered a vast amount of space in which approximately sixty artists and two-dozen traders were able to conduct their business. With this being Manchester’s seventh show, its reputation ensured that quite a number of tattoo devotees turned up and as soon as the doors opened, there was a buzz of machine activity and people making their way around to eye up the wares of each artist. The roster of tattooists balanced a healthy combination of both established and up-and-coming international artists in addition to a host of UK-based talent from all around the isles.

The centre of the room contained four raised booths that were reserved predominantly for the traditional tattoo artists, although Sid Siamese 1 was alongside them displaying his wonderful array of designs on both skin and paper. Two black and grey bodysuits from Sid’s Infinity studio found just recognition with first place in both the Large B&G Male and Large B&G Female categories.

Saturday followed the usual convention protocol of being a little more relaxed earlier on and allowed some time to catch up with artists and friends to find out what they’ve been up to of late. Work began early for many of the tattooists as the influx of visitors swarmed around the stalls and began to excitedly discuss their ideas.

Tom Sugar from Global Tattoos in Moreton, Wirral deservedly scooped the Best Of Day accolade on Saturday for a stunning portrait of Edward Scissorhands on a guy’s thigh and Sunday’s best was awarded to the Argentinean artist Sergio from Sancast Tattoo.

It was a bit of a shame that the dividers between the booths were so high as it prevented the artists from interacting as they worked, but it’s something that is easily rectified and I’m sure a few tattooists were glad of the peace!

A good dollop of kudos must be given to the brave man who received work from both Dawnii and Helen Brown; they simultaneously inked two beautiful women onto his thighs in their own inimitable styles and he sat like a real trouper throughout. I have to mention a personal favourite from the weekend too, and that was a wonderfully original chestpiece from the machine of Leah Moule. She took a classic theme and turned it on its head by integrating bees, honey spoons, and a smattering of honeycomb for good measure! And it’s hard to avoid mentioning Bez from Triplesix Studios again, as he continues to astound with both the level of work that he’s turning out and the sheer diversity of it; every piece that he created over the weekend was of the highest calibre.

The talented girls from Caged Asylum provided the weekend’s entertainment and treated the masses to a few widely appreciated burlesque/pole shows - Caged Asylum also played host to the official after party on Saturday for those who were eager to see the girls again!

Manchester is a great city and its multicultural vibe was mirrored by the cross-section of patrons coming in through the doors, from the heavily modified to those of virgin skin. One of the most impressive features of the Manchester show is how much excellent work is on display here, be it completed at the convention or simply people showing off their latest additions. It was also great to catch up with ongoing projects and see how they were developing and the Skin Deep photo studio was inundated with fabulous tattoos as upon spotting new ink, we chased people around the venue to secure a few snaps for these very pages.

Sunday brought with it the inevitable deluge of newcomers unable to make the first day’s festivities and there were quite a few new faces eager to explore the convention. I also noticed a fair number of people who were out to secure some art for their walls rather than their skin; Katriona Godward and Sean Parry had plenty to offer on their stalls with everything from oils to watercolours in a myriad of styles. In fact, the wares of the latter convincing my girl to part with cash. Twice.

The closing ceremony featured an extensive list of award categories and the ecstatic winners gratefully received the beautiful Czech glass trophies, albeit very gently!

As the stands were dismantled and the crowds dispersed, the familiar onset of post-convention tiredness descended upon us and we made our way home, cameras brimming with literally hundreds of wonderful images.

Big thanks deservedly go to Jorge and his team for organising another vibrant convention with plenty to see and do. The move to a larger venue certainly paid off and allowed visitors acres of room in which they could take in the ongoing tattoo work without having to constantly shuffle aside to let others pass. The new surroundings may have altered Manchester’s familiar ambience but the event seemed to rise to the occasion and spread its wings accordingly. Cheers to all involved, and we look forward to what the next show has in store for everyone.


Text: Alex Photography: Neil & Alex


Skin Deep 158 1 March 2008 158