Brighton Racecourse, 1st February 2009
There was not a horse in sight at Brighton racecourse on this cold, snowy weekend. Replacing them was a colourful crowd of tattooists and the tattoo-ed descending on this uppermost part of Brighton. For the second year running Brighton was holding its annual Tattoo Convention playing host to 178 of the most talented needle-workers from around the country and abroad.
The convention was spread over three buildings, one containing the tattooists, one housing equipment suppliers and the third showcasing tattoo inspired artwork. The humming of tattoo needles resonated around the building and everywhere I looked people where sprawled over a variety of tables, chairs and any other available surfaces having artwork etched onto their bodies. If you were ever curious about the world of tattoos this was definitely the place to be as they were being displayed and created absolutely everywhere you looked.
Sally, editor of Total Tattoo magazine explained to me how the convention has “exploded” since its debut year in 2008 and there were easily twice as many people attending this year’s gathering. Sally also commented on the relaxed friendly atmosphere of the convention, which she largely attributes to its Brighton setting.
Speaking to members of the attending crowd, the overwhelming consensus was that the convention was a great place to discuss their design ideas and speak to a range of artists to find someone they would like to visit for work in the future. From the artists’ point of view it was a great opportunity for them to display their creative flair and attract new customers. Alex of tattoo magazine, Skin Deep commented on how the artists all enjoyed working in this environment and explained that even though still in its infancy, the convention is already well regarded in the body modification field.
I braved the cold and made the short journey over to an adjacent building. The Unplugged II gallery at the convention showcased an array of tattoo inspired artwork, which was a relatively peaceful and serene area to catch your breath from the crowds inside the main building and a chance to marvel at the sheer artistic talent of the tattooists.
The convention, which was open over Saturday and Sunday finally packed away its inks and needles at eight o’clock on Sunday evening. However, it wasn’t all over as an after party was held down at Concorde 2 with free entry for all convention goers, an excellent opportunity for the adorned and decorated to put on their glad rags and show off their newly painted bodies.
Words by by Jen Blakely
Photography by Ian Greenland