Manchester Tattoo Convention Part 2

Published: 01 April, 2008 - Featured in Skin Deep 159, April, 2008

I was really looking forward to this year’s Manchester show, what with the new venue and the impressive artists list. So with an empty flash card in my camera and fully charged batteries (for both me and my camera), I set off to Manchester Central full of anticipation for a weekend of tattooing fun.

After a bit of a trek around the old G-Mex (now the Manchester Central), I found the trade entrance and started to unload my poor overweight car. Things were moving pretty fast inside with artists setting up their booths and many traders hauling massive boxes of tattoo-related goodies. Jorge, the show’s organiser, was looking a little stressed as he showed the local health officers around the venue. Apparently they were a little over-efficient (as many people with a little bit of power tend to be) but Jorge needn’t have worried, as he is an old hand at putting together quality tattoo shows, so he passed with flying colours.

With a look of relief, Jorge started smiling and I knew the show would be on par with (if not better than) the previous Manchester shows.

As the doors opened, the quite sizeable crowd shuffled in and the tattoo machines burst into life. The line up for this years show was as varied as it was international with artists coming from as far a field as Argentina, Greece, China, and Samoa. Not to be left out, the UK artists working the show were as good as I’d seen at any show, giving the punters a good selection of British talent. The list included Max MacAndrews, Ritchie Beston (Bez), Dave Wiper, Helen Brown, Gerry Carnelly, Mark Bailey, Tom Sugar and many, many more. Jorge had obviously worked hard to handpick an extremely varied selection of artists to offer the crowds.

Saturday seemed a little quiet but this might have been due to the enormity of the venue. Central used to be a railway terminal and is massive, with some fantastically high ironwork holding the domed roof aloft. So there was none of the shoulder barging and squeezing past booths, as had occasionally been the case in the Piccadilly hotel.

Making the most of the space, the traditional tattooists had plenty of room with plinths in the centre of the room. These included Mr Nu from Thailand and Fuiavailili from Samoa, both executing some gorgeous traditional work over the weekend.

We had the Skin Deep photo booth directly behind our merchandise stand, which kept both Alex and myself busy all weekend, despite one of my light units going up in smoke. I was very impressed by the overall quality of tattoos on show again this year. Manchester constantly impresses the hell out of me with its calibre of tattoos. I go to nearly all the UK shows and a good handful abroad and I can pretty much guarantee a superb line up of work to photograph as you can see in this and last month’s coverage of the show.

The break up the day’s proceedings, there were a couple of pole dance routines that got admiring glances and wolf whistles from many of the male members of the crowd. Not my thing and the girls looked a little bored but it was a different and refreshing tack to having live music blearing out and deafening the working artists - a nice touch, that.

Sunday dawned to one hell of a hangover. Don’t know how that happened, must be a yeast allergy or something... I remember chatting to some of the tattooists back at the after show party...the rest is a blank.

Anyway, shrugging off my headache and after having a can of liquid caffeine kindly donated by Jorge, I got down to the serious work of photographing tattoos. The Sunday crowd pretty much filled the venue but not to a capacity that was reminiscent of a game of sardines. Again, my photography light worked overtime shooting some jaw-droppingly beautiful tattoos. I must just mention the tattoo that won Best Of Day on the Saturday, which was a portrait of Edward Scissorhands, expertly tattooed by Tom Sugar from Global Tattoos. It was a fantastic piece and refreshingly tattooed mainly in shades of blue rather than black and grey. A very nice tattoo indeed and well worthy of the prize.

Sunday’s offering of new work was of a high standard as was expected from the line-up. Joe Myler from JMD’s in Waterford produced a fantastic dragon piece across a lad’s shoulders, which was a mammoth undertaking as it was his first tattoo and he sat like an old hand at the game.

Why is it that the older we get, the more a tattoo hurts, or is it just me?

Gray Silva from Rampant Ink tattooed a lovely zombie nurse designed by Rachael Huntington and the finished tattoo turned out superbly. Oh there were so many tattoos that came through the photo studio I lost count!

It got to that time when the trophies were to be awarded. Jorge always come up with some unique trophies and this year was no exception. The awards were hand made glass vases carefully transported from the Czech Republic.

The winners were published in our last issue (158) but a special mention needs to go out to a young lady who has not long come back from America called Jemma Krysa, who has a stunning bodysuit worked on over a few months and if you look further in this issue, you’ll find a full feature and interview on her and her life.

Sid Siamese 1 won few trophies, deservedly so and the Best Of Day went to Sergio Sancast from Argentina with a great tattoo done on a guy’s ribs.

Not long after the awards, the Manchester Tattoo Show came to a close. Everyone I spoke to said the change of venue was a good move as the old show had out-grown the Piccadilly.

All in all, this year I had a blast and was flat out all weekend both in the studio and on the Skin Deep stall.

Next year will undoubtedly be even better, Get yourself there!


Text: Neil Photography: Neil, Alex & Gareth Fuke


Skin Deep 159 1 April 2008 159