Ink 'n' Iron - 2012

Published: 17 September, 2012 - Featured in Skin Deep 216, September, 2012

Are you a regular at conventions held in the old continent? If so, forget everything you know.

The Ink-n-Iron festival is definitely of American taste – oversized, just like the gigantic ship where, over three days, the ninth edition of this California convention unrolled. Knowing from experience that conventions tend to resemble their host cities and that this enormous metropolis is capable of both good and bad, we had to wonder which side of the great California we would see and if a regurgitation of sequins would be in order. A bias perhaps, but those who have had the chance to walk on Venice Beach or rub the City of Angels will know what we’re talking about.

Luckily, the first few metres – following a security check-in worthy of an international airport – swept away all our fears. In short, it was beautiful, it was big, and the girls had it in the pants. If the word ‘festival’ isn’t always justly used, it is more than justified here. Outdoors, you had booths of clothing, accessories and food that spread out further than the eye could see.

Lovers of kustom culture were not left out either, with more than 200 hot rods and custom vehicles pre-1969 displayed under the Motorama dome. Even before entering the heart of the action, we already knew it would be impossible to be bored.

Music was also an integral part of the event with several local bands entertaining the crowd. Suicidal Tendencies, Corrosion of Conformity, Buckcherry, Misfits, Vandals, Aggrolites, Slackers, Pennywise, and Face to Face, all played on the festival’s main stage throughout the weekend, proving that Californians don’t do things half-assed.

Walking around, it wasn’t unusual to see Jerry Only, frontman of the Misfits, taking photos with fans of all ages; vomiting motor fat and with a soundcheck tinged with heavy bass, they seemed to be the perfect band to provide the soundtrack for the boarding of Queen Mary (see the box out) where 280 of the world’s best artists officiated on the ship’s three lower floors.

An artistic debauchery featuring artists from 30 states and 25 countries took place in the bowels of the Old Lady. Jeff Gogue, Juan Puente (Black Heart Tattoo, SF), Oliver Peck (Elm Street Tattoo, TX), Noi Siamese III, and Carlos Torres are only a small example of the quality and variety of styles represented, although black and grey and realism were slightly more widespread.

With an art show, burlesque performance, ’50s fashion show and pin-up contest, there was no shortage of entertainment either, and something for everyone. The atmosphere was pleasant and the public and artists alike seemed to get into the festival spirit with all the positivity that accompanies it.  
As the last rays of the California sun were seen striking the ship’s hull, the first notes of Pennywise’s ‘Revolution’ resonated across the ship, and the end of the ninth show was fast approaching.

Ink-N-Iron has made a name for itself worldwide, which is in no small part due to the efforts of its organisers over the years. It would be audacious to suggest that tattooing is now fully integrated into society, but it is through events like this that we can push the doors open a little more to the masses who still have misconceptions about the culture that we hold so dear.

Long live the Queen!

Queen Mary

The Queen Mary, nicknamed the ‘Old Lady’, is a ship that was inaugurated in Scotland in 1934. Thanks to its avant-garde technology and unprecedented luxury, high dignitaries, Hollywood celebrities and British royalty made up its privileged clientele in the early years.

When WWII broke out, the Queen Mary was taken to Sydney where it was converted into a transport ship for Australian and New Zealand troops, carrying more than 15,000 men each time it sailed. Due to its size and prestige, the ship was a top target for the Kriegsmarine, however its high speed made it impossible for German submarines to catch.

It is after completing their military duties that the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth dominated transatlantic traffic between Southampton, Cherbourg and New York until 1966, before spending their older years as a popular attraction, hotel and top event destination in the Port of Long Beach.



Text & Photography: P-Mod & Dwam