Skin Deep 177

By the time you read this I will be (hopefully) in the United States of America to visit the Paradise Tattoo Gathering. I say hopefully, as the most powerful government in the world seem to be getting more and more paranoid as to who they let into their country. I have heard of many a UK tattooist enduring the ten-plus hour flight only to be turned away at the border control with no reason given such is the US’s persecution complex and fear of being blown up. It seems a real shame that foreign tattooists have such a hard time gaining access to America as they have a great deal to offer our transatlantic cousins. 

These days tattoo artists are a caring, sharing bunch and seem more than happy to impart some of their hard-earned information and willing to help anyone who shows even the slightest passion for tattooing. This also works from the US to Europe too, with many American artists finding access to Europe equally troublesome.

This is a real shame and could be perceived as stifling for the industry. Ok, many tattooists when at a convention or party may discuss techniques, machine tuning and other related information but it’s never the same as real ‘hands-on’ experience in a classroom environment situation. 

I’m talking about Tattoo Seminars. Tattooing seminars have been run in American for a few years now and have gradually started to find their way onto our shores in the shape of days like our own Tattoo Jam’s ARTIST friDAY and I have heard that other show organisers are looking into hosting similar events. This can only be a good thing for tattooists and will undoubtedly benefit tattooing, giving clients a better tattoo experience and as we all know, the better quality tattoos out there, the less frowned upon the tattooed tribe become. It’s amazing how people’s views change from repulsion upon hearing that an individual has a tattoo until seeing the wonderful work of art before them, and their view instantly changes to one of wonderment at the quality and intricacy of the design.

Taking the tattoo seminar another step further is a chap called Gabe Ripley, who owns a studio called Off the Map Tattoos in Massachusetts. Gabe has over fifty guest artists each year, all being experts in their chosen area of tattooing, and there he regularly holds seminars run by these artisans, which sell out constantly.

Not content with the shop seminars, last year Gabe came up with the idea of running a tattoo convention that is more of a four day collection of seminars, aimed at tattooists from all corners of the globe to get together and swap/exchange ideas and gather tattoo information from a variety of ‘big guns’ within the industry. Call it a trade show, if you will... 

Obviously this alone doesn’t put any money back into Gabe’s bank account; considering the large amount of money upfront he has to put into the show, so the Paradise Gathering is also open to the public, and the working tattooist line-up would be the envy of any tattoo organiser. The Paradise Tattoo Gathering is tucked away in a small ski resort in the beautiful hills of Western Massachusetts, There’s no phone reception so all your attention is focused on the seminars, of which there are many, ranging from painting seminars from the likes of Jeff Gogue, Dan Henk and others to full-blown ‘how to’ classes, machine building workshops and others including talks from such luminaries as Guy Aitchison, as well as many tattoo-related talks and discussion panels.

An event like this is not only a boon to all attending artists but it also highlights the need for tattooists to constantly improve and hone their skills, which most do.

I know that nearly all tattooists constantly strive to improve their art and techniques so I really hope that Gabe has started something that will take off over here soon. I like to think Tattoo Jam is helping to increase the awareness of this sort of event with our ARTIST friDAY and in future years, other convention organisers can improve and expand on these innovative events, giving not only the tattooists a broader knowledge of their trade but also an improved service and quality of tattoos that we, the public, get to wear, bringing even more of the ‘art’ into tattooing. This should create a far better understanding of why we wear our art on our skin and will hopefully reduce the amount of raised eyebrows some of us experience when showing off our tattoos to the general public.

We have lift off! 

Big Tattoo Planet dot com is now fully live and functional! BTP is the new abode of all things
Skin Deep, Skin Shots International and Tattoo Master, and provides you, the user, with a
complete community to slake all of your tattoo-related desires, including digitally reproduced articles from our magazines and the renowned Skin Deep Forums, one of the best user-generated resources for all things ink. We’ve also got up-to-date news, convention listings and an exhaustive studio directory to present at your disposal. Get involved and join our tattooed tribe at

Tattoo Freeze

January 17th 2010 sees the advent of the first Tattoo Freeze, brought to you by the publishers of Skin Deep, Skin Shots International and Tattoo Master. Tattoo Freeze is a unique one-day convention that will showcase the cream of artists from around the world alongside tattoo-related art exhibitions, the 1st National Tattoo Photography Awards, roller derby madness, custom vehicle shows, and BMX and skateboard demonstrations. Tickets are available from right now and it’s only £10 for the day!


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