Artist Recommendations for 3rd Annual Chicago Tattoo Arts Convention
March 15, 2013 12:53 PM   Subscribe

A staggering, overwhelming amount of tattoo artists from all over the USA will be attending the 3rd Annual Chicago Tattoo Arts Convention. Is anyone familiar with any of these artists? Can you recommend one that you would recommend for either of the two prospective tattoo ideas I have inside? I also have some questions about tattoo conventions, as someone who has only had work done in shops.

TATTOO NUMBER ONE: STRAWBERRIES: I'd like to get fat, plump, juicy strawberries tattooed on each shoulder with little vines curling under my clavicle bones, in a cute, bubbly, storybook style. Think a 1950s Golden Book. Ideally I'd get Esther Garcia to do it, but getting an appointment with her is murder, so I'm looking into other artists with a feminine (though not necessarily female), delicate hand, and a portfolio full of flowers, fruits, and cute stuff. Just having a few girly sparrows-and-bows tattoos done in the Sailor Jerry/Americana style is not good enough.

TATTOO NUMBER TWO: CIRCULAR SYMBOL: I want a huge circular symbol done on my upper thigh. I'm not even sure yet of what I want, but you can imagine a pentagram as an example; super thick black lines, simple geometric shape. I'm looking for someone who does crisp, precise, black & white linework. I would also love ideas of symbols I should get; I'm into bikes, the occult, and genderqueerdom. I kind of want it to be the kind of tattoo a bassist in a death metal band would get. I know this sounds like I'm some dumb idiot getting my first tattoo who's like "I think I want something tribal or maybe a dolphin?!?!?" but I have plenty of tattoos, to the point I don't take them crazy seriously anymore, I am 100% sure that I want a bold circular shape in this location, and I'm just not sure which one.

QUESTIONS: Um, how does getting tattooed at a convention work? Do you set an appointment or just wander around or what? Is there any reason I would NOT want to get tattooed at a convention?

posted by Juliet Banana to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Pentagram chainring! Is that too obvious? Sorry that's the only thing I can help with on this matter.
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:16 PM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

When we went to the Baltimore tattoo convention, a lot of the more prominent people had actually booked up in advance. Some were available for really brief consultations between appointments and you could do the consultation and then make the appointment for over the next few months.

I got pierced at the convention, and really appreciated that my peircer's studio had rented a suite in the hotel for folks to get work done. A lot of other artists were just piercing and tattooing people in the big booth area which I felt was a little unsanitary and a little too public. It was so fun, though, seeing everyone getting all covered with art and beauty. I really loved it.
posted by spunweb at 1:17 PM on March 15, 2013

I'm no expert, but I thought that getting tattooed at conventions was for people who didn't have top-notch artists in their own towns. If you live in Chicago, book appointments to see artists in their own shops. They'll have their tools set up the way they like and will be working with fewer distractions. For good black ink work (and color!), I think that Dawn Grace does beautiful, precise work. She's in Chicago.
posted by quince at 1:49 PM on March 15, 2013

I can tell you absolutely nothing about getting tattooed at a convention, or whether these guys are the right ones for you, but Josh Fields of Platinum Rose in Marion, IA will be there, and he's apparently pretty great. I say "apparently" because I don't know him, but he's a longtime friend of my husband, who knows his work well and has specifically pointed it out to me.
posted by Madamina at 3:26 PM on March 15, 2013

From my husband:
You want to get an appointment well before the convention. If you were to go with Josh, email him directly on his site or Facebook. He typically will post things on Facebook like "Appointments for Chicago are filling up quickly." (Which may just be marketing, but they do want to schedule well ahead of time.) 

Josh has at least 15 years experience; he apprenticed with Hank Bertka. He isn't a stereotypical tough guy; he's really nice and has a family, etc. [Not that that makes much of a difference, but he does have a good manner.] He has some great floral work on his site. In addition to tattoos, you'll see on his site that he does oil paintings. 

Also, I didn't see Katie Sellergren on there, but if you ever run into a show where she's working, do it. I think she's currently working for Black Heart in San Francisco. She's apparently really into patterns right now, though.
posted by Madamina at 4:13 PM on March 15, 2013

Generally you do book in advance for conventions. These types of events are great for artists who have regular clients who live in far away places. My understanding/experience is that when they're at an event, they contact their regular clients that may be nearby and say "Hey, I'll be in your area, want to book some time at X convention?" And if they still have time available closer to the event they'll make an announcement on Facebook or their websites or whatever.

I can also speak from experience that getting tattooed at a convention sucks. It's not nearly as bad as I'd imagined it would be, but it's not all that great. There's distraction, time's wasted, things are uncomfortable for everyone involved. The artists don't have their familiar setups...the tables, lights, inks, guns—all those things are in the wrong places and rigged to work best given the horrible constraints of being at a convention rather than at their sweet little spot back home. It's loud and people constantly walk up with "Hey remember me?" "Hey, can I book some time?" You can imagine. It's also difficult to get food/drink and go to the bathroom. And much harder to just chill and enjoy the session with the artist (for me, this is part of the whole process, and I really enjoy the time and the company).

In sum, I would go to the convention to check out artists, how they work, where they are, look at books and get business cards and ideas. Then book something for later, at their shop. You get so much more out of it, and ultimately a better tattoo and experience all around.
posted by iamkimiam at 5:29 PM on March 15, 2013

Response by poster: I'm pretty sure this whole post was based on a mistaken premise-that convention appointments were easier to book than shop appointments. I have two lovely artists I've worked with (the aforementioned Esther who works out of Butterfat Studios, & Jason Vaughn who works out of Deluxe) and like I said, getting appointments are crazy; email goes unanswered for months and months and you never know if they're just backed up or they hate your idea or, more likely, they have a million clients and so much email and are booked up so far out that it is just how it works.

Still, I need to just be persistent and also possibly scope out some less insanely popular Chicago artists (the circular symbol tattoo, in particular, could be done by anyone with a good steady hand and doesn't need the lush color and soft, sweet style I picked Esther & Jason for).

I am still very interested in hearing whether any Mefites have any opinions on these particular artists, because going by to scope out their work and maybe get a consultation is a great idea.
posted by Juliet Banana at 6:41 PM on March 15, 2013

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