Tattoo Convention Etiquette
September 22, 2013 2:30 PM   Subscribe

I will be attending my first tattoo convention if a few weeks. While I have gotten several tattoos over the years, I don't know too much about tattoo culture. I'd like to enjoy myself, take in some art, and possibly get inked. What are your tattoo convention dos and don'ts?
posted by OsoMeaty to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
A bit of discussion from r/tattoos.
posted by mollymayhem at 5:37 PM on September 22, 2013

Ask before taking pictures.
posted by antiquated at 6:09 PM on September 22, 2013

Bring cash.
posted by box at 7:10 PM on September 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Don't get tattooed at a tattoo convention unless you've picked out what you want, and who you want to do it ahead of time.
posted by garlic at 7:58 AM on September 23, 2013

I've gotten my first (and, as yet, only) tattoo at a tattoo convention. That said:
  • good hygiene is essential to safe tattooing, and tattoo artists tend to be pretty obsessive about hygiene. Though it's possible to work with clean equipment, etc. at a convention, I've read interviews with artists who prefer not to do any tattoos at conventions because they can't keep the environment as clean as they can keep it at their own shop
  • one artist who I'm thinking about getting a tattoo from has her clients first make an appointment to discuss their ideas and maybe present a design, followed by a subsequent appointment to do the actual tattoo. An artist who works this way might not do tattoos at conventions
  • if you do get a tattoo done at the convention, you should be prepared to have little or no privacy while it's being done. Be prepared to have onlookers standing fairly close to you as the tattoo artist works. This may or may not be a problem for you (the experience of being tattood gave me such an endorphin high that I didn't care much about anything happening around me, but mileage may vary)

posted by rjs at 11:38 AM on September 23, 2013

Some additional stuff, based on my limited experience, and not specific for conventions:
  • tattoo artists often have a binder with standard designs (so-called 'flash') that you can choose from. If you get one of those as a tattoo, you should realise that there are probably (many) other people who have that exact same tattoo. Whether you're okay with that is something to think about in advance
  • the alternative is to either have the tattoo artist design something specifically for you (and my guess is that they wouldn't do that on the fly during a convention) or to bring in an image of your own for the artist to use. If you bring in an image of your own, you should expect the artist to a) check whether it is possible to do that image as a tattoo and b) assess whether the image would look good on the spot where you want it tattood, and to make suggestions based on that

posted by rjs at 11:58 AM on September 23, 2013

A big thing you'll see is artists on the convention floor who have, along with their flash portfolios mentioned above, selections of new pieces that they want to do and will put on you for a lower-than-normal rate because it shows off their art. If you don't have an artist you've spoken to / booked with ahead of time, keep an eye out for those as well. Unlike flash, these will likely be one-of-a-kind. Also, be prepared for people to come up and talk to you or the artist while you're getting worked on, it's very much a spectator sport at conventions.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:01 PM on September 23, 2013

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