September 30, 2013

The Importance of Working and attending Tattoo conventions. Being a tattoo artist.

The Importance of Working and attending Tattoo conventions. Being a tattoo artist.

Personally I have a great time working tattoo conventions. Growing up around tattooing. It’s sort of a family reunion in a way. With my tattoo family. A lot of them have a great collection of artists. Some of them being my close friends. I enjoy attending these because it could be the only time. I get to see some of these people in a whole year. Sometimes maybe longer. Depending on who’s doing what convention. Sometimes planning these shows. Just to see some of my friends and who I consider part of my family. Conventions give me just a familiarity. That must of come from growing up around so many inked individuals. Some of the artists, whom have been around awhile. Have watched me grow up. Some of them now. I’m watching them get older and become their own entity in the tattoo world.
There is also an importance to working these shows. In the beginning of your career and later in it. I feel in the beginning for me it was a key to networking and meeting people. Other artists, photographer’s, writers and collectors. Just a network of people. That are into the same thing as me. Hanging out with them. Really getting to know these people. Opens up all kinds opportunities. Being guest spots at shops. Other conventions, etc. All over the world. Sometimes even magazine opportunities. This is key if you are trying to get your work out there. To become well known in any business. You have to network.
Going to conventions now for about 15 years.. Especially some of the first years. Seminars were very inspiring and really helpful. On other techniques of all kinds. One of my first was Guy Aitchison’s seminar. This one blew my mind. It was so good. I soaked up so much from that one. And his personal critique of my portfolio was life changing for me. He opened so many doors with that seminar. As well as the conversation’s with him. About my tattoo work. Another one that was huge for me was Bob Tyrrell’s portrait seminar. Changed my portraits over night. Such a huge difference. I have taken many more threw out my career as well. Every once in a while catching a new one. It’s always a good thing. Even if you are already a established artist. Never hurts to see what other people are doing. So you can apply things you may not of thought of to your work. I’ve always believed you can never stop learning.
A good place to take seminars these days. Is the Paradise Tattoo gathering. This gathering leans more towards taking seminars and learning from other artists. As well as panel discussions. Of all kind of tattoo related subjects. I would highly recommend this show. If you are trying and willing to learn the art of tattooing. This gathering is a great place to soak things up.

Other important things about doing conventions is keeping up to date of what is going on around you in tattooing. Sometimes I fell like I get trapped in my own bubble when working in one place for a while. You tend not to realize what the direction the art is going. When I went to conventions in the beginning of tattooing for me. I would stand around the artists I admired. I would stand and just watch them tattoo. To soak up anything I could. I always found it very important studying these artists.
You have to leave what you know. To find out what you don’t.
I find myself now later in my career doing conventions. To see what people are doing and learn from them. But also if you want to stay relevant. In the tattoo world. It seems that you must do them. To keep your face out there. So people see your work and remember it. There’s a lot of potential future clients at these events. So keeping relevant with them and noticed. Really helps if you would like to come back to that show again. That’s future cliental.
Sometimes I have found the first time you do a show. You may be slow. Doing things you would not like to do. But doing these tattoos pays for the room and travel. So you have to do them. I found myself having this happen in the beginning. Finding out as the years go on. Of me going back to these shows. I get busier and busier every time. Doing more and more custom work. So the slow start and hard work always pays off in the end.

Now a day’s there are quite a bit of tattoo conventions out there. When I was a kid. There was only a few all year. You kind find now probably a hundred of them across the globe. That says a few things. There’s obviously enough artists now to work all these shows. But also enough public to attend as well. That’s unbelievable from what they use to be. Some are in ways better than others. Depending on what you are going for. Some of my favorites around the world. My favorites going by. Quality of artists, atmosphere, location and how much business there is. I would start out with The London Tattoo Convention. In my opinion one of the best shows of all time. I also really like the Hell City Tattoo festival. In Columbus, OH and Phoenix AZ. For the states right now. I would have to say the best convention. Run by Tattoo artist Durb Morrison. He sets a high level of standard as well. I had mentioned Paradise Gathering. earlier Which picks remote locations to have their gatherings. The vibe at gathering is unbeatable. Also many other great conventions presently. Ones I have attended and not.
Some of the conventions I miss. Those are no longer around. Would be shows like Tattoo Tour by J.D Crowe and Dennis Dwyer. Some of the first shows I ever attended. Years before I was an artist at one. Always had the best artists at that time. Another of my all time favorites. The Tattoo the Earth tour. It mixed music and tattooing. Bringing together incredible artists. Until that date really was never a collection of so much talent in one place. That tattoo artist Paul Booth had gathered for the tour. With bands like Slayer, Slipknot and many others. It was a actual tour. Traveling across the states. This show really broke ground. And has not been repeated again to that scale.
I’m intrigued to see what Tattoo convention will emerge next. That will maybe be something different from what has. And is already being done. Remembering this. The only way for people to see your artwork is to get it out there. Hopefully seeing you at a convention near by soon.
Jeremiah Barba

Here are some web addresses to some of the conventions I mentioned. Maybe a few I did not.

Also a link to Guy Aitchison’s and Bob Tyrrell’s website. Who’s seminars I mentioned taking.

My mother (Kari Barba) and I. Tattooing at the London tattoo convention.2012

My mother (Kari Barba) and I. Tattooing at the London tattoo convention.2012

Friday morning.Outside the London tattoo convention. 2010

Friday morning.Outside the London tattoo convention.

London tattoo convention. 2009

London tattoo convention.

Busy at The Milan Tattoo Convention. Milano,IT 2010

Busy at The Milan Tattoo Convention.
Milano,IT 2010

With my friend Josh Pierson who won 3rd place. At the Hell City tattoo fest.

With my friend Josh Pierson who won 3rd place. At the Hell City tattoo fest.

Tattooing Bio sleeve on my  friend Charlie. At the Hell City tattoo fest. 2013

Tattooing Bio sleeve on my friend Charlie. At the Hell City tattoo fest. 2013