Nantes '06

Published: 22 November, 2009 - Featured in Skin Deep 143, March, 2007

Many, many years ago the good people of Breton were primarily boat people, many of who were refugees from the island of Brittany, now known as Great Britain. The Breton region has a very old history and was mainly founded by migrants from Wales. In order to repatriate in another country, even the road signs are bilingual it is benefical to know some words of Breton and the first sign you can see as you enter this region is: “Digemer mad”. Welcome into Breton!


The driving force behind the Nantes Tattoo Convention is a chap by the name of Sam, who tattoos and runs a studio in Rennes. He is also the president of the ‘Shok Heart Prod’ association and has been the organiser of the last three tattoo convention in Rennes but moved the Nantes as the previous venue outgrew the show.   

Nantes is the old capital town of Brittany and houses some 500, 000 inhabitants. Situated just two hours ride away from Paris, this is a very pleasant city that nestles on the bank of the Loire River. I can’t think of a nicer place to host a tattoo convention.   

Sam who makes a living in the universe of corporal art, organised this convention in order to join together all those people who are passionate about tattooing. During two days the “room of Trocardiere” accommodated many artists who come primarily from France but there were other artists from as far away as America with studios such as “Por emptied Tattoo”, “one the road Tattoo”, “China Town Tattoo” and “Karl Marc Tattoo”. On the whole, 60 artists came to this convention and the visitors flocked to the venue to discover talents which French folk could not see every day.   

Over the two really sunny days, over three thousand tattoo fans came through the doors. An extra benefit to the venue was the fact that smoking was banned so many families took the opportunity to walk in and have a good look around in a clean, smoke free environment. This is steadily becoming the norm at many conventions all over Europe.   

During the weekend, many people were getting tattooed, some getting their first one and others deciding the get ink to mark a certain passage in their life. In our society, the tattoo is the sign of a new birth, a moment of personal development.   

In the Marquesas Islands someone who was not covered with inscriptions or tattoos, felt naked, and without protection. In Brazil for the “Kadiweu” people: It was necessary to be painted (tattooed) to be a man. In Asia, the Buddha himself practised piercing. When he was a prince, the lobes of his ears remained distended stretching with the weight of the jewels, which he stripped himself of in order to reach serenity.   

In Nantes, I didn’t know the motivation of the 3000 people who gathered during this weekend but one could detect a good level of tattooing and a good environment to be in.    

Well-known also in the background of tattooing, Pascal Tourain showed his spectacle “the Tattooed man” four times over the weekend. This Autobiographical and humorous ‘show and tell’, Pascal revealed his entire tattoo, which was carried out by Tin Chock and explained the origin and the history of the tattoo.    

Why are you entirely tattooed? This question asked a thousand times is always the starting point of his spectacle.   

This one-man show is completely autobiographical and during one hour, the crowd were captivated in the fascinating world of tattooing. Pascal tells his life, his questions, and his doubts, about his tattoos with a good sense of humour. He progressively reveals and explains the significance of these tattoos during his talk. This is quite an original idea, and it was the first time that this subject has been approached at a French tattoo convention.

Several days before the convention, Sam gave all the artists a skateboard deck so each one could decorate it according to their style. The 35 decks were decorated and then auctioned off to add funds for a charity called “the red noses”, which helps kids who are in hospital. Thanks to a very generous public €2000 was collected and will be used to help these sick children.

With a photo exhibition, a Thai boxing match, and many other attractions over the weekend, the Nantes Tattoo convention is one to look out for again this year.

You will find all the relevant information you  need at:   

Or call the organiser Sam on:     

00 33 251 70 30 40


Text and Photgraphy: Daniel Pissondes


Skin Deep 143 1 March 2007 143