Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If this old adage ever rang true, it was at the Philadelphia Tattoo Convention, last week. Why is it the ultimate reminder? As opposed to strolling through an art gallery and marveling or even purchasing an admired piece, these owners embellish their bodies with personal masterpieces. Their bodies are decorated with the permanence of art varying from bloody, gory and frighteningly dark images to the lightness and gaiety of Pixar characters and the 50’s classic, calendar girls. There were many expressions of spirituality and religion, as well.
If you are a lover of art, this was the place to be. The talent in this convention center was staggering and leaves one in awe, whether or not you choose to adorn.
Walking proudly, shirtless, sleeveless, or with one pant leg rolled up, people were showing off their bandages that covered the newly decorated raw skin like badges of honor. They appeared so happy to have purchased their fresh ink.
One thing that struck me is there was the medley of people attending. Every age, size, weight and color was represented. There is no judgment or prejudice there. The common thread was they were all there for their appreciation of the art and the ink! The loud buzz of the coil machines was steady as every artist drew their permanent design on their eager for the pain, customer.
I love hearing the stories behind the selection of a tattoo. Men are often surprisingly romantic and sentimental in their selection. They are passionate and have deep rooted reasons for their designs, not that women don’t. But, it does take me back when the 6 ft. 5 in. guy explains that the angel on his shoulder represents his mother because she raised him right. I love it!
My experience in performing scar re-pigmentation or guy-liner on men is that they typically have less tolerance for elective pain than women. Women start yanking their brows out at 12. We are just more accustomed to choosing pain, especially in the name of aesthetics. Men typically avoid pain, whenever possible. I remember, years back, attempting to wax a man’s back and he screamed so loud, I swallowed my gum. I left him with a stripe down his back like a skunk, and no, I didn’t feel bad. Generally, when I have a male client, I pray he has tattoos, so I know he will tolerate scar camouflage or an aesthetic tattoo of sort. Now, I am in awe at the patience and tolerance of the men I witnessed sitting for hours to sport an adornment that touches their heart. Many come equipped with head phones and zone out with their music. Some even have the ability to fall asleep! Seriously? I touch some guys with my machine and they coil into fetal position. Go figure.
I also noticed much more light and romantic art as opposed to the dark, skull and dagger art. Beautiful women’s faces were being tatted up and down arms and legs and wings spanning across the backs of both guys and girls, women and men were quite popular. Mom and daughter tattoos are the rage and listening to them agree on a design was hysterical. Countless tattoos so magnificently done, kept my head spinning as I perused the isles filled with more than 500 artists. I did notice the lack of tribal arm bands and tramp stamps going on. There were more sides, ribcages and shoulders being inscribed. Sleeves and half sleeves were plentiful. They were so elaborate, intricate and colorful and some crawled up onto the chest. The art was breathtaking. Some sleeves had a theme and some were just unrelated yet meaningful images to the beholder that were woven with flow and connectivity. It’s hard not to stare as you try to decipher a beautiful collage in a sleeve.
Of course, some attendees as well as artists go to extremes. Some had gauges in their ears that I could hop through, they were so painfully large. There was one set of enormous dreads on a blonde I found quite interesting. There were confusingly woven with various colors of yarn and several other unrelated textiles. I couldn’t tear my eyes off them. I found myself looking for my lost cat in there.
At our Beau Institute booth, bystanders were amazed at our creation of eyebrows that simulated hair. The photos of before and after a woman’s mastectomy, sporting the 3-D nipple areola complex blew them away. Many artists as well as attendees flocked our booth to inquire about our training and our techniques. My entire staff and I enjoyed the experience and can’t wait until next year. We all left incredibly inspired, profoundly moved and beyond impressed. If you see a tattoo convention in your area, you won’t want to miss it. Be sure you are on our email list to stay tuned for our next tattoo show exhibit.
Rose Marie Beauchemin
President, Director of Education, The Beau Institute