As tattoos are gaining popularity, so are the number of people attending a tattoo expo for the first time. It can be a daunting process, being unsure of how to go about booking in to be tattooed at the expo in question. Here are some tips for you first-timers:
Before hassling the organisers with your questions, check the Facebook page wall to see if anyone else has asked a similar question. Better yet, go to the official website and read through the FAQ provided there as it will be far more detailed.
The expo organisers will not help you get an appointment with a tattoo artist. It’s your job to contact the artist directly and set up your appointment.
Most tattoo expos consist of well over 100 tattoo artists. Decide what style of tattoo you want (ie. traditional, abstract, black and grey, portrait) and cull the list according to which artists specialise in that style.
Once you’ve chosen a tattoo artist, check out their online portfolios, especially for photos of their healed work, as that will show how well their tattoos look. Use a search engine to see what people have said online about their work, as there’s a good chance people have posted photos of their tattoos from that tattoo artist.
Tattoo artists like having artistic freedom when it comes to a piece, they won’t openly rip off another tattooist’s work. However, don’t be so vague that they’re confused as to what you want. Have some reference materials available to them, whether it be a description of what you want, some photos sourced from the Internet.
Don’t worry if they don’t email you back right away. Some tattoo artists are fortunate to have an assistant to reply to their emails, however many have to find the time in their busy days to respond. Don’t flood their inbox with emails; they will get back to you when they can.
If your chosen artist is all booked up, there’s sure to be another artist who is just as skilled in your chosen tattoo style.
However if you’re dead set on having one particular artist tattoo you, never fear. Many international or out-of-state tattoo artists will do guest spots while they’re in town. Keep up to date with their schedule via their website or Facebook/Twitter profiles.
Some tattoo artists won’t be fully booked out at the expo. Don’t be afraid to ask one of them if they have time to tattoo you.
Don’t go around the expo asking each artist how much they charge, to find the best deal. Tattoo artists know what you’re doing and they don’t appreciate it. The old adage of “Cheap ink ain’t good and good ink ain’t cheap” applies here.
If you’re getting tattooed at the expo, you will still have to pay the entry fee. Most expos offer discounted online tickets which also means skipping the long lines on the day.
Many tattoo artists (especially the ones from overseas) will expect you to pay a non-refundable deposit to secure your booking at the expo.
Be on time. It’s rude to leave your artist waiting if only for your inability to organise yourself. If you turn up ridiculously late you may find that your tattoo artist is tattooing someone else. It could also mean you’ll forfeit the deposit you paid.
Wear comfortable clothing. Be aware of what body part you’re getting tattooed and which clothing will make that body part easily accessible. ie. If you’re getting a tattoo on your calf, wear shorts or pants that you can roll up.
Tip your tattooist. Tipping isn’t common in Australia, unlike the US, however I believe in tipping my tattoo artist. 15-20% is a fairly standard rate for tipping.
Make sure you bring enough cash with you, as there may not be EFTPOS facilities available. With the amount of other non-tattoo booths there, there’s a good chance you’ll find something you may want to buy, whether it to artwork, books or clothing.
Food can be expensive at tattoo expos, as with most public events. You don't want to feel ill or even faint as you're getting tattooed, so save yourself some money by bringing some water and a sugary snack with you.
Be prepared for people to stare at you and ask questions. The great part about tattoo expos is being able to interact with people who share the love of this art form. When you’re getting tattooed some people may ask you about the pain or what you’re getting tattooed.
Enjoy yourself! There’s always something going on at a tattoo expo whether it be tattoo judging, fashion shows or burlesque performances.