Somerset Tattoo Convention 2008

Published: 28 March, 2011 - Featured in Skin Deep 161, June, 2008

One of the things you most want to see when a small convention like Somerset is in its second year is a sign that things are going from strength to strength. That’s been confirmed in the event itself, as it continues to grow and pull in even more artists and interested tatt fans from the surrounding area, and it is with great pleasure that I am able to report that this year’s Somerset Tattoo Convention was in fact one of the most friendly and enjoyable, ego-free tattoo shows that I have had the pleasure of attending. Even the weather outdid itself this year as the sun shone down obligingly on the unassuming car park tucked away behind the White Hart Pub in Bridgwater.

When I covered the first Somerset Tattoo show last year for Skin Deep magazine, it was fair to say that there was a slight air of trepidation surrounding the whole event. It was a new convention, running the same weekend as the larger Newport show, and throughout the day the heavens continued to pour down on all who attended. Yet, despite all of this, all who attended had a great time. So much so that there were so many familiar faces working in the artists’ tent once again this year, most of whom had signed up for the second show almost as soon as the main marquee had been pulled down and tucked away last May. These included the likes of Mark and his gorgeous wife Tanya from Skin Sorcerer, Gareth and Rod from Taboo, Mac from Punctured Art, Chris from Physical Graffiti, Sween from 21st Century and Jonah and the boys from Bodyshock.

Run by Mike Nicholson, owner of Tat 2 studios in Bridgwater, the Somerset Convention is one of those increasingly rare tattoo gatherings where absolutely everybody seems to get on like a house on fire. Being set within the car park of a pub certainly helps and there was more than enough beer and burgers on tap all day to keep spirits high. But what grabbed my attention most was the number of people I spoke to who commented on what a great ‘vibe’ the show had this year. In fact, it really did feel like something of a family affair, with many artists even bringing their children and partners along to soak in the atmosphere and local bands playing live music throughout the day.

As for those attending, the show attracted the usual mixture of bare flesh, ponytails and fake hair extensions (and that was just the guys!) and all attending were treated to a standard of work even higher than that of the previous year. Somerset first-timers Chris ‘Fuckin’ Jones and Luke Bond were both located at the far end of the artists’ marquee, and drew approving glances from the milling masses throughout the day with their respective Japanese and new school work (both of whom would later win Best in Show and Runner-up) and towards the front of the tent there was also some absolutely stunning black and grey work being put to skin by the crew of Tam’s Tattoos, with Tam himself tattooing a guy so large he looked like a walking billboard for the studio. For my money, Sween produced perhaps the most impressive piece of work on the day under the 21st Century banner, with a realistic psycho face worked beautifully into his customer’s thigh, for which he later won the Best Small Male award (something he’ll want to explain carefully to his customers when it goes on display at his studio), whilst next to him a lot of interest was being shown by punters and artists alike in the new fangled, silent running pneumatic machines being used by the chaps at Skin Art. All of which stirred up some interesting debate later back at the bar.

With temperatures rising in the artists’ tent, judging began this year at 3.00pm sharp, and thanks to the clement weather was able to take place outdoors this year, which was just as well as the queues of entrants stretched way back past the music stage. Veteran inker Danny Skuse, Viv of Angel Tattoos and Woody of Blackheart once again presided over the hoards of decorated flesh that proceeded to expose itself before them, and interested crowds gathered to enjoy the rare opportunity to take in such a concentrated body of work all in one place and enjoy a pint of beer in the sun at the same time.

And so, after a long and rewarding day the second Somerset Convention came to an end and as the sun went down over Bridgwater, presentations were made in the welcome evening breeze, with the lucky winners each receiving ornate swords, each styled to represent the categories for which they were awarded. Tired artists packed away their machines whilst the crowds of enthusiasts retired to the bar to show off their new work or simply wandered off to try and work out where they could get a tube of Bepanthen from at 6.30pm on a Sunday night. To say this year’s show was a success would be an understatement and huge congratulations should go out to all who took part in it, for the quality of the work and professionalism on display, and also the spirit in which the day was approached. A special mention should also go to Mike Nicholson, who worked so hard to make it happen in the first place and seems now to have a growing yearly convention on his hands. In fact, after such a great day it seems only fitting to let Mike himself have the last word…


An Interview With Mike Nicholson

Popular organiser of this emerging show and a busy studio owner himself, Skin Deep eventually caught up with Mike Nicholson after the dust had settled in Bridgwater for a brief recap on his personal highs and lows at the helm of the second Somerset Tattoo Convention.

How many people attended the show this year?

“Around 470 people showed up, with 36 artists working the show.”

How did this one compare to last year’s convention for you?

“This one was much more fun as it was the second one.”

What were the highlights? Did you see any work you particularly liked?

“Well, Luke Bond and Sween both did very nice work, as did most of the 36 artists. Chris Jones, Mark, Dale, Rob and many more. I just like watching good artists enjoying their work.”

If you could change anything what would it be?

“I’d apologise to Alzone for missing the judging for Best of Show. We are sorry.”

So there’ll definitely be a third Somerset show then?

“Yes, next year it’ll be on 17th May 2009.”

Any last words?

“It all ran to plan and every body looked to be happy, so what more could you ask for at a small show? Thank you to Bob for letting us use the White Hart, as he lost his dad on the Wednesday before, and also thanks to my wife Cas, and Shane and Chris for helping set it all up.”


And The Winners Are...

Best Small Male: Todd by Sween at 21st Century Tattoo

Best Large Male: Amanda West at Alzone

Best Small Female: Cathy by Dale at Tattooland UK

Best Large Female: Cathy by Dale at Tattooland UK

Best Black & Grey Large: Ben by Ray Wewerka

Best Small Black & Grey: Zed by Darryl B at Revolver Tattoo Rooms

Best Fantasy: Nichola by Addictive Ink

Best Japanese: Moggy by Tam’s Tattoo

Best Celtic: Les by Taboo 

Best Wildlife: Justin by Phil Bond Tattoo

Best Body Suit: On Steve 

Best New School: Toni by Chris Hatton at Physical Graffiti

Best of Show Runner Up: Alex Day by Chris Jones at Physical Graffiti

Best of Show: Cain Hulme by Luke Bond


Text & Photography: Dave Perry


Skin Deep 161 1 June 2008 161