Barcelona Tattoo Expo 2012

Published: 07 December, 2012 - Featured in Skin Deep 219, December, 2012

Just when autumn hit England with cold wind and rain, I get to pack up my bags and hit the road again. With my mind already set to Spanish sunny weather, I decide to put my sandals and summer clothes on, and in the middle of a freezing night, I made my way to the airport to take off for Barcelona.

Shaking with cold and excitement, I can’t wait to get myself to a place I’ve never been before and hang out with my ever-expanding ‘Tattoo Family’…

The 15th Barcelona Tattoo Expo took place in La Farga De Hospitalet for the very first time. A bit of shame, because for obvious reasons it would work a lot better if it could continue in the city centre where everything great that Barcelona has to offer is based, but for someone like me, a newbie to Barcelona’s convention, the venue itself worked very well. I shan’t compare or complain though, as I’ve never been to the other place!

After leaving my way too heavy suitcase (one of these days you’ll learn a valuable lesson about this. Ed!), probably full of not necessary stuff (yes, I’m a very ‘just in case’ packer), I arrived at the venue to be welcomed by a rather long queue. I Got my pass and walked inside to a space filled with tattoo boxes – you don’t get to see that very often. Each box was made of temporarily set-up walls with a sink inside that created a sterile and private impression of what’s always desired, but still quite unique at such events.

I was pretty excited about this particular show. Not only because it’s located in one of the most touristic European cities, but because from the artist list I only recognised a few names, so I was very much looking forward to checking out some portfolios and getting more familiar with the Mediterranean tattoo scene. Though it’s funny when I say that, because my biggest personal discovery of this event was of an artist from San Pedro, California, Alan Padilla – I should seriously feel ashamed that I haven’t heard about him before… Alan owns Timeline Gallery with Carlos Torres and Jed. He’s an incredible artist with an amazing attention to detail and his black and white tattoos, especially his skulls and mayan pieces, are simply stunning! Some of his work is being featured in the documentary about prison-style black and grey tattoos, Tattoo Nation (to be released in 2013). You should check him out, and when you do, pay attention to his mind-blowing oil paintings too… you won’t be disappointed – he’s amazing!

Talking about the US, I need to mention that the black and grey style was strongly represented also by Fonzy from Greaskull and the guys from Lowrider, Jose and Gustavo Lopez. Let’s go back to Europe for a moment though. Wandering through labyrinthine tattoo booths, checking out the artwork growing under the machines and needles of artists that I’d never heard about before, all the while trying to decipher the Spanish program. I walked through every alley to try and get familiar with the layout and find all the entertainment areas. Well, with no surprise, there was a main stage, which I found right away because it was almost at the entrance… but what popped out at the other end of the venue was quite unexpected and a bit more exciting – a huge boxing ring! As a Muay Thai beginner, my heart rate increased.

Right next to the ring was a dance area; whether you’re fan of Step Up or not, I think it was pretty cool to watch the break battles that were going on across the whole weekend. It’s definitely not something you get to see often at other conventions. And looking at the crowds around those areas it’s clear that it’s definitely what an audience wants to see. Well done to the organisers for bringing something fresh and interesting into the ‘slightly’ predictable tattoo world in terms of entertainment.

And talking about visitors… handsome guys and beautiful girls full of temper. For someone who doesn’t speak Spanish other than ‘hola’ and ‘gracias’, such a trip was very exotic, especially because English isn’t very commonly spoken in Spain. It was kind of funny that when some locals approached me speaking their language, saying to them that I didn’t understand, didn’t actually stop them from talking!

Between being busy checking out art being created, talking to artists and expanding my ever-growing ‘tattoo family’ by meeting new people, I ran into Alberto García Alix who invited me for his audio-visual projection, ‘Flesh and Bone’, that was open to public during the convention. If you ever have the chance to check this out, please do so. It contains very personal, strong photographs with the main subject of human body.

But let’s go back to the reason that brought us all together to Barcelona Expo in the first place – tattoos. I need to say here, at first I was very confused with the contests and the whole system, because looking at the program there were just two categories – Best of the Day (each day) and Best of the show (on Sunday). But apparently people could enter online for other categories too… weird. But in the end that doesn’t really matter because what’s most important is that I got to see some really nice pieces.

Winners List

Best of Friday

1st place
Jorgew by Fredy, Exotic Tattoo, Murcia

2nd place
Salvador bybSamuel, Wanted Tattoo, Barcelona

3rd place
Rebeca by Live2, Tattooligans, Greece

Jota Esteban - Mao & Cathy, Barcelona
Andrea Cecioni - La Botega dei Tatuagi, Italy
Adrian Romero - Low Rider, USA

Best Of Saturday

1st place
Daniel Giner by Johny Mezquita, Domus Tattoo Art, Portugal

2nd place
David by Maximo Luthz, Blood and Tears, Barcelona

3rd place
Daniel by Victor Chil, Blood for Blood, Barcelona

Best Of Sunday

1st place
Aldo La Porta (Italia) by Ricardo Cassese, Blood for Blood, Barcelona

2nd place
Josu de Lleida by Daniel Martos, Demon Tattoo de Lleida

3rd place
Javi de Bilbao by Kostas, Dirty Roses, Greece  

Best Of the Show

Aldo La Porta (Italia) by Ricardo Cassese, Blood for Blood, Barcelona

Ryan Cooper - Studio Freaks 39 Tattoo Studio, USA
Andrea Afferni - Andrea Afferni studio, Italia
Miguel Angel Bohigues - V-Tattoo, Spain


Text & Photography: Aga Haireisis