Milan Convention '09

Published: 01 May, 2009 - Featured in Skin Deep 171, April, 2009

Milan is the second largest city in Italy, located on the plains of Lombardy with about 4.5 million inhabitants. Milan is renowned as one of the world capitals of design and fashion. The English word millinery, referring to women's hats, is derived from the name of the city. The Lombard metropolis is famous for its fashion houses and shops and the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in the Piazza Duomo is reputed to be the world's oldest shopping mall.

They came in their thousands to offer their bodies for decoration to some of the best artists in the world. Over the weekend of 13th - 15th of February, event organiser, Miki Vialetto organised the 14th Milan Tattoo convention and judging by the size of the queue outside the Milan Tattoo Convention was a huge success.

The two hundred and ten top tattoo artists gathered from around the world in an attempt to represent every style imaginable, from the traditional Japanese master to the new school artists and all styles from the gothic to tribal and everything in between.

The artists had plenty of flesh to work on over the weekend as Milan is always a good meeting point for tattoo fans and artists alike Among those two hundred and ten tattoo artists; they had 68 Italian tattoo artists and the other 141 other came from all over the world; European, USA, south America, Asia, Polynesia…the list goes on.

The 14th of February is St Valentine’s Day and many lovers came through the doors hand in hand to witness one of the best European tattoo conventions; but the crowd also consisted of single people, families, young and older people, all filling the aisles of the convention, many looking for some fresh ink. Apparently there were thirteen thousand people through the doors over the three days making it almost impossible to get from one side of the hall to the other, it felt like the Paris Metro (subway) at rush hour!

Located in the south of the city, and only 10 minutes from the city centre, the Quark Hotel Congress Centre hosted the Milan tattoo convention.

There have also been some changes in the location: inside the wide rooms, a new spacious area dedicated to Italian artists has been added for this year to give more visibility to the national artists working over the weekend, also there were rooms where the artists could go and have a break from the crowds if they needed to, which is a nice idea.

This year, the organisers had tried to make the show just that little bit different from other conventions, hoping to set the standard for other shows to follow. The music was live and not too loud to disturb the working artists, which I'm sure they appreciated fully. As well as this consideration other improvements were:

  • Body painting performances live on stage.
  • Miss pin up tattoo 2009 Something new in store this year at the Milan Tattoo Convention: in fact, a Miss Pin-Up Tattoo 2009. Contest was held during the event. It’s a contest for all girls between 18 and 35 years of age who have to do their own make-up and create their own look. The participants had to perform on stage (sing, dance, act…) for maximum 3 minutes to show the audience their pin-up qualities. The winner won a trip to London for two plus accommodation and two free tickets to the London Tattoo Convention.

The entertainment included

  • Tara mi Sioux: Model and burlesque dancer. Tara Mi Sioux really knows how to leave a mark. Her performances certainly didn’t go unnoticed: an eccentric mix of classic-retro style and burlesque dancing.
  • Sixtyniners; this wild duo are into garage rock ‘n roll and pure fun that comes straight from Holland. An original and ironic group with Claudia Hek at the drums. By putting together their passion for rock ‘n roll, punk blues and 50s-style iconography they created an explosive mix that guaranteed “good vibrations” without sparing energy!
  • Cohors; an amazing show, an incredible ensemble of dancers and performers. The group was founded in 2005 by Markus, the European Bodybuilding champion and vice Body Building World champion, who gathered some of the most skilled street artists with the same passion for his sport. Their muscular bodies are the main pillar of their performances, which included acrobatic dances, fire games and an amazing percussion show with both traditional drums and big oil drums.
  • Tattoo Tarot: an extremely interesting project promoted by Astrid Koepfler, which involved several great tattooists to spread and help people understand the meanings – often hidden – of the first 22 Tarot cards, commonly defined “Major Arcana”.

The Saturday different show were proposed and they had only the best of day tattoo contest. With only a few participants showing theirs new tattoos.

Artists from Japan, Polynesia, and Borneo who work exclusively by hand showcased their different global styles. A process that is more painful than using a machine as well as taking much more time, it is also more expensive.

On Sunday the main competition took place with many diverse styles of tattoos on show.

This year the French tattooist Dimitri hosted a show entirely dedicated to hand tattoos, (A wonderful book to be reviewed in SD real soon - Neil) After the great success of his previous title “Body Suits”, Milan hosted another great exhibit from the famous French tattooist Dimitri HK. This time, the author went searching for “tattooed hands”, collected in a unique and interesting works of art.

I must not forget to mention the German artist Astrid Koepfler (the Major Arcana of the Tarots designed by some of the finest tattooists) and the exhibit dedicated to the book Flash: The Art Of The Mark II.

All in all, Milan was busy, vibrant, culturally stimulating and a huge success.

If you like to come to the convention next year it will be in February at the same venue. You can find more information on the Milan tattoo website and also get the entirely list of tattoo artists.


Text and Photography: Daniel Pissondes


Skin Deep 171 1 April 2009 171