Having some ink myself, tattoo conventions and festivals are something I’ve had on my ‘to check out’ list for years. I headed down Rites of Passage on a cold Saturday morning to see what was in store for everyone there.
The very moment I set foot into the building, it was as though I entered The Louvre equivalent of body art. About 95% of the crowd in attendance had tattoos, whether it be just one on their arm, or covered from head to toe, and a handful of people even with what I assumed to be tattooed eyes. From rows A through to S, there was nothing but countless parlours and organisations that came from all over the world such as Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Canada, the U.S. and more. It was impossible to keep track of every single artist at the Royal Exhibition Building, especially with all of the business cards I took off each stand.
The good thing was, it wasn’t all strictly limited to tattoo companies. In fact, there were plenty of stalls set up that sold t-shirts, jewellery, and even supplies and aftercare. Tattoo removalist establishments such as Light Speed and First Impression Laser Clinic were also set up to promote their businesses. Children brought to the conventions with their parents even had the opportunity to get their own tattoos done. Considering that they weren’t above the legal age to have proper ink of course, they had the option to have airbrush and henna tattoos done on them instead.
As far as the artwork was concerned, each artist had their own unique designs and styles from regular flash pieces and pop-culture-related art, to character and celebrity portraits, and even watercolour types, which was crazy awesome. Prices usually ranged from $100 to $600 for each piece of the flash displayed, which was a decent amount and seemed like the average price-tag for instore tattoos, more for much larger pieces.
Of course, I was extremely tempted to go and get a bit of ink myself, as I’ve only had three tattoos before coming to the convention. I eventually went and got one done by Tarryn Addlem, from the Rose and Anchor Tattoo Studio in Niddrie. I sat for about two hours for a piece that resembled a page with writing on it being embraced by flames in black, white and grey colouring. I was really pleased with the final product and with Tarryn’s artwork in general. Not only was she big into the satanic themes that were represented in her art, she also had a massive thing for bands such as Sleep, Sunn O))), The Shrine and many more that I liked.
Overall, my first tattoo festival was a very gratifying and interesting experience from start to finish. Rites of Passage, and its list of guest artists from all across the world had a never ending supply of styles to present to those in attendance, and I’ll definitely return for next year’s event.