Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Boston Tattoo Convention

Johnny Love got his first tattoo on his right arm when he was only 14 years old. It was a skull with red eyes wrapped in barbwire with flames coming off of the bottom and sides. “I got the coolest tattoo that I could come up with at the time,” Love says, “and I still like it.”

Fast-forward twelve years. At 26, Love owns Tattooed Heart Studios in Glen Burnie, Maryland. This year, he will be one of the featured artists at the Eighth Annual Boston Tattoo Convention.

The event, which takes place October 2 through 4 at the Boston Center for the Arts, is known as the premier body art event in New England. The convention showcases live tattooing by more than 100 artists from all over the world, including Love.

If you’re interested in attending but not quite ready to get any permanent artwork done, don’t be intimidated. The event is captivating and suitable for the whole family.

“We try to keep [the event] on the upscale side if we can,” says Natan Alexander, the founder and producer of the convention. “There will be no loud, crushing rock bands or gangs of bikers. You’ve got young families pushing strollers, couples, doctors and lawyers next to firemen, policemen, construction workers.” Alexander will bring his two children, who are seven and nine years old.

In order to create the upscale vibes, there is more than just tattooing. The convention also features an art gallery of paintings and mixed media work, competitions which allow contestants to show off tattoos, a small bar area and educational seminars on topics such as improving tattoos and tattooing safety. There is also a raffle to raise money and awareness for a different Autism charity every year, a cause which Alexander is particularly passionate about because his daughter has Autism. And of course, you can always kick back for some good old-fashioned people-watching.

Love warns attendees to get there early and to schedule appointments with artists through the convention’s website beforehand, because the event does sell out and artists are usually busy all weekend. “This is definitely one of the best shows that we attend so I would not want to miss it,” Love says.


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