Seventh Tattoo & Piercing Convention in Antwerp

Published: 12 May, 2010 - Featured in Skin Deep 124, August, 2005

The harbour of Antwerp used to be the area where many tattooists had their businesses. In the Schipperskwartier many sailors visited the local tattooists just like in the area of Katendrecht, Rotterdam, the tattoo shops of artists like Gustaf, Alberto and Victor and Gina all ended up selling their studios to move outside of town. Antwerp has also been the host to a tattoo convention for the last seven years. The seventh convention took place, as in earlier years, in the Easter weekend of the 26 and 27th of March. About 1500 tattoo fans visited the Alpheusdal in Berchem, a picturesque quarter of Antwerp.


“This convention is slowly growing bigger” organizer Wolfman of the Diamond City Crew tells me. “We want to become the biggest convention in Belgium. I am also going to organize another convention in Belgium this year as well as one in Düsseldorf. Most of the artists who are working here have come because I met many of them as I travelled around various tattoo conventions in Europe”. Wolfman is a Belgian tattoo artist who has a studio in the South Western part of the Netherlands on the border with Belgium, not too far away from Antwerp. The name of the shop is Kingpin Incorporated. Attending the Antwerp convention are tattoo artists and piercers from Belgium - Wildcat Tattoo & Piercing, Tattoo Chris, Tattoo by Snake, the Netherlands - Studio Remie, Tattoozeist, Collins Tattoo, Tattoo Ser, Kingpin, Tattoo Mi Axel, Gekko Tattoo, Germany - Red Dragon Tattoo, Colour of Skin, The Tattoo Place and Denmark - Tattoo World who were all working hard over the weekend.


The booths were spread over two large halls. Not only was there booths with tattoo artists and piercers but also plenty of suppliers, body-painting and the usual merchandise. Wolfman: “I am trying to bring the ‘art’ into the tattoo world because tattooing is art. I invited a professional body-paint artist who has won international prizes with his work in Belgium and Austria”. The best tattoo art could be seen on Sunday during the contests. Eddyman, tattooed by Tattoo Mi, shows the audience images of Iron Maiden on his arms, his chest, back and legs. The old sailor Fredo is fully tattooed, by among others, Gekko Tattoo, who used to tattoo in the Schipperskwartier in the shop of Alberto. Nowadays he spends much of his time painting and sells his colourful art in Antwerp. 


Winner of the best of convention is a Dutchman Erik Jaap. He was tattooed by the upcoming female artist Sofia from Studio Remi. The designs shows Lady Medusa, surrounded by snakes. “I love women and snakes” he says. “I don’t have any snakes at home because my wife doesn’t like them. So I thought it’was a good idea to put them on my skin instead”. Willikat from Meaux, France, tattooed a beautiful geisha girl onto the thigh of a female customer, who got huge approval from the audience for the work. 


Mister P. is one of the three artists from Sunset Tattoo studio, Brussels. He was working with two of his friends and his girlfriend in Antwerp. His customers: Nicola and Valerie wear flowery tattoos on their bodies. “The birds on my back can be seen as symbols of freedom, the transparent knife above it gives me protection against the aggressive outside world”, Valerie explains to me. “I like to tattoo New School and Japanese designs” Mister P. himself mentions. “I am developing my own style of tattooing at the moment by doing big projects. The Sunset Tattoo studio is located in a not-tourist quarter of Brussels and I have been developing my style too by visiting many conventions and gathering outside influences. Antwerp is a good convention. It’s not too big and has a good atmosphere. In our country there are not many big conventions, except for Brugge, so another convention is good news for tattoo fans”.  


Later on, I stopped by the stage to listen to the surf punk of The Ghost tones from Belgium. The bass player left the convention with his first tattoo: an image of his own bass guitar. After 

their performance I had a quick chat with Miranda and Harry from Hemiksem, a little town near Antwerp. Harry is a tattoo artist (Body Design) who tattooed his wife with green and blue colours. “I like capricious tattoos of demons and skulls, not in the usual black & grey style but the colourful ones” Miranda tells me. “The colours were supplied by Papillion from the USA are the best and most vivid I have seen” Harry adds. “I don’t tattoo the designs freehand. The tattoos are composed of existing drawings by other artists. I use parts of each flash and make a totally new design from it”. 


While I was talking to them, the crew of the Compagnie Chevalaresque de Lánneau are preparing themselves for a medieval combat & fire show. While the tattoo fans are cheering, they fought with each other with swords. In their medieval costumes they look like knights of old, with sparks flying through the air and also some little pieces of steel. And later on, they transformed themselves into fire-eaters. 


The tattoo artists who were working over the weekend all said they had a great time with the seventh Antwerp Tattoo & Piercing Convention. And many of them want to come back next year. 



BEST black & white: - Simon. Artist-Tattoo Place, Manheim Germany. 

BEST chest or back: - Bart. Artist- Clear Solid Tattoo, Netherlands. 

BEST colour: - Antoine the Human Fly. Artist-Wildcat, Belgium. 

BEST leg work: - Joke Poppe. Artist -Tattoo MI. Art & Bodyshop, Axel Holland. 

BEST arm work: - Flip L. Artist Snake BST Tattoo. Eeklo, Belgium. 

BEST tribal or celtic: - Lom. Artist-Tattoo Ser, Holland. 

BEST  of convention: - Erik Jaap. Artist –Sofia. Studio Remie, Holland


Txt: Rik van Boeckel Photos: Fred Rohde


Skin Deep 124 1 August 2005 124