So, this weekend just gone was a rare one off for me. Booked with a purpose, as my old housemate had invited me to join him at ‘the Tattoo Tea Party’, at Event City in Manchester. All curious (as I’ve never been to a tattoo event before), I agreed (after some prevarication) to go along. Event City is the conference centre they’ve put up next to the infamous Trafford Centre where I go to play Clark Kent five days a week (complete with glasses!).
They’d set the place up in a series of concentric rings, broken up by a grid of connecting walkways that housed what must have been in excess of three hundred separate stalls. The Ring Master (they had a boxing ring at the centre that hosted ‘Gentleman’s Death Matches’) mentioned on a number of occasions that there were around two hundred and forty (or it might have been fifty) of the countries finest tattoo artists present, showcasing their wares and offering their services. The remaining trade space was taken up by stands selling body jewellery, clothing and kids face painting, amongst other things (I thought that last a nice touch), as well as a group of very bored looking industry suppliers down one side selling ink, guns etc. There were also dodgems at the back, and a couple of cafes that included an ice cream van (genius, given how hot it was in there. Someone had clearly set the thermostat to ‘third circle of Hell). Distinct lack of teas on sale at the cafe however, which disappointed me a little, as I like my gun powder, sencha or lapsang souchong and had been looking forward to being able to tell people I’d had tea at the Tattoo Tea Party.
Sadly not to be.
Still, they did serve a passable americano (the fourth name in this post that the dictionary on here doesn’t recognise. Prize for the first person to guess the other three in comments below…).
The convention itself was amazing – the artwork on show… As I commented to my friend, if I were shameless and had a camera… Some of the pieces were just stunning, both existing, and being done at the time. Two in particular that caught my eye were a young man whose sleeve worked as a storyboard (continuous, no panels) spiralling down his left arm, done in the style of an old fifties sci-fi film (think The Forbidden Planet, or the original The Day the Earth Stood Still), with an army of approaching robots at the top treading the path towards you that then curled about his bicep, perspective shifting back as it dove into the UFO strafed city done across his lower arm.
The second was a woman, wearing a turquoise cocktail dress. Her sleeve featured a number of elements, but the one that stood out for me were the peacock feathers curled about the mid-section, as if they’d been gathered there in a bouquet about her arm. Each one, and indeed the rest of the piece, was picked out in minute detail, with the individual filaments of each feather drawn on as discreet lines, rather than the whole being created as a block of colour. Think pointillism, but with lines rather than dots. I have something similar – a sycamore leaf across my left shoulder – but this rather put mine to shame with the level of detail and the colours involved. Truly, truly stunning to behold.
Anyway, suffice to say it was a brilliant and well spent afternoon, though I did think my old housemate’s head was going to explode at various points from the amount of hot men in attendance. There was one in particular we inadvertently ended up following (honest!) whilst waiting for a friend of ours who was tattooing there to finish up so we could go talk to her. ‘What’s he doing, out on his own, unattended…?’ we wondered, unable to believe someone so beautiful could conceivably be walking around alone.
The words had barely left my mouth, before he reached one of the stands and sat down to chat to his (equally attractive) friend (we had only moments before been ogling him as well), who’s leg piece was just being finished.
C’est (as they say) la vie.
I believe my point here is ‘go to one’ regarding tat conventions, if you’re at all interested, or just like looking at scantily clad hot people. Well worth the money, regardless your intent. The only minor draw back is that if, like me, you’re that way inclined, you will come away wanting more ink.