(We can be) Heroes... - Ink For Heroes 2012

Published: 14 August, 2012 - Featured in Skin Deep 215, August, 2012

…and for more than one day too. The two-day event that is Ink For Heroes is one of the favourites on the circuit and never fails to supply amazement somewhere along the line.

The weekend of June 23-24 saw one of our favourite conventions on the circuit, Ink For Heroes, take place. For the first time, the show was held at its new location at York Racecourse… and with ticket sales already way up by mid-afternoon on Saturday, it seems that the organisers had made the right decision in switching locations, though I am sure that this year’s amazing artist line-up and usual family-friendly feel had a lot to do with those high numbers as well.

Straight up, two of the main reasons I love Ink For Heroes, is because of its support of our soldiers (it is after all a charity bash with all proceeds going to Help for Heroes & British Legion), and its children-friendly attitude. On the family side, this year was no exception with a children’s club set up on the second floor with one of the coolest events for the kids, being the Design a Tattoo Competition where the winner got their design tattooed on the show’s web designer. So, it’s hats off to Molly Butcher, aged six, who won first place to now see her design being used.

And swiftly on to the tattoo artists in attendance over the weekend. Once again, Pam and the crew made sure they got some of the best artists to support this charity convention. If you were lucky enough to get to the show, you would have seen the likes of Lal Hardy, Mick Tomo, and Remis Cizauskas… and while we are on the subject of Remis, not only was he tattooing at the show, but on both days he gave a seminar on portrait tattoos as well.

The holy trinity to one side for a moment, there were loads of amazing artists slinging ink. Two who really grabbed my attention over the weekend were Alex Williamson, Apostle Tattoo Studio, and Gareth Unwin, Talisman Tattoo. Both artists seemed to spend the weekend banging out amazing ink.

Another impressive thing about Ink For Heroes, was the amount of hometown talent that was at the show. One of the most annoying things when a show is hosted in a city is when none of the studios in the area are represented, which might be cool for visitors, but not punters who live in the area. So a big shout out to Pam Green and the crew for making sure York’s artists were so well covered. And ultimately, it seems this was a wise choice as three of the overall trophies were claimed by York-based artists; both Small Colour and Large Colour went to Dan Rooke of Rookstar Tattoo, while Best Back Piece went to Polish Dan of True Colour Trinity. The other competition winners were; Pauly LaVey from Doc Black Ink for Small Black & Grey; Large Black & Grey went to Johny D. Matthews from Conisbrough Tattoo Studio; Best Oriental Tattoo was taken home by Pete Oz from Seven Star Tattooing; and the special Ink For Heroes category, Best Military, was claimed by Ian Thompson from Tattoo Time.

And for those of you who aren’t squeamish and like to see a little bit of blood and gore, you weren’t to be disappointed given the presence of the one and only body modification expert, Dr. Evil. What looked like a quiet-ish Saturday for Dr. Evil saw that all change when he performed a scarification which looked close enough to surgery to use the word ‘perform’. I have to admit, I watched for about ten minutes before I decided a breath of fresh air might be better than passing out in front of a bunch of my fellow convention-goers. And if that wasn’t enough for Dr. Evil, Sunday saw him performing a tongue split body mod. This time I didn’t even attempt to watch the man at work as I knew I would be face down on the floor in seconds. I’m not sure how the tongue split went, but no paramedics were called so I assume the person involved survived to show off their snake tongue.

There was so much more to the show that space and time won’t allow us to cover, like those two guys on the stilts breathing fire… another great addition to the show. When they weren’t doing tricks out the front (some they hadn’t tried in public before) they were to be found entertaining everyone inside with their crazy, madcap goings on.

With the move, we have been promised an even bigger and better show next year. It will take something special to beat this year’s, but with the passion these guys have for Ink For Heroes, I don’t doubt for a second that this will happen.


Text: Trent Aitken-Smith; Photography: Martin Dean