As a business owner, the last thing you may think you want is for your team to be all out of the office around the same time. You also might not want to spend unnecessary overheads on travel expenses or expensive tickets to an event. But when it comes to tattoo conventions, you need to consider all the positives.
Firstly - tattoo conventions can be essential gatherings to increase your business's competitiveness.
Secondly - they are an essential way for the artists based in your studio to learn, network, and promote their work
Thirdly - they will provide invaluable insight and inspiration for you and any other members of your team to learn what’s new and innovative in the world of tattooing
Fourthly - as your artists are all self-employed, they can cover their own costs of attending. All you need to do is be clever with your scheduling around this time.
But what you should ensure is that your studio is attending as many conventions as are feasible. Certainly any that come to your locality, and perhaps one or two that are in your wider region every year. If someone from your studio wanted to - they should even attend some of the world’s best.
Conventions are not just valuable for your artists - they are inspiring and insightful for you, your team and even customers who are looking to get their first ink, complete a sleeve or more. But it is undoubtedly the artist who will be most inspired by the experience.
Here we look at all the benefits of these events as well as some of the best ones in Ireland, The UK and beyond.
A tattoo convention is a gathering of experts, suppliers and artists from all around the country, wider region or in some cases the world. These events can last up to three days and attract enthusiasts, artists, suppliers and business owners alike. They can also be a whole lot of fun - with various contests, giveaways, talks and tutorials taking place. For those looking for a tattoo, they can also be lucky enough to get one from a really famous artist - though they need to be aware, they are not usually for free!
Like most other industries it’s difficult to stay on top of what’s happening in the tattoo world. Trends change, technology changes and artists need fresh and new inspiration. These events bring people together with the tattoo family to share ideas and discuss what’s happening in the world of tattoos. They are also a great opportunity to network, learn new techniques or simple tips. And they help give new tattooists a direction or focus.
Conventions are a lot of fun too. It’s important for artists to have fun with their peers, a happy artist is a creative one. And these occasions provide the perfect environment to party as well as learn. In short, they are an essential part of what helps designs remain relevant and cool.
From a business perspective of course, they can help you attract new customers or engage new suppliers and ideas. Industry fans and enthusiasts love to attend these events. They are always looking for the next big thing or a famous artist to be there. But they will seek out a local studio too. So if you’ve got a presence there and they are impressed with your studio or tattooists portfolios, there’s a good chance they will check you out when the convention is over.
You can also talk to other tattooists who are curious about moving to your city - or even those looking to collaborate with one of your artists.
There is usually a diverse range of events going on at any one time.
One of the most exciting things to witness and indeed to challenge some of your artists are the contests. There can be awards for all the different design categories - like best photoreal or best art nouveau etc. This is a great opportunity to see some of the finest talents in action - watching how they work under pressure and to a time limit.
If your event is local then it’s a great opportunity to sell your studio at the show. An artist can help you at this by doing tattoos, or you can give away store vouchers or prizes to potential clients. Other vendors will include the likes of ink, needle and aftercare suppliers. It’s important that your artist also gets a chance to meet them. They may not be fully satisfied with their current equipment or have questions about buying something they have in mind.
Vendors don’t have to solely in the tattoo business either - you’ll find piercing studios, jewellers, contemporary or urban tattooists and artwork suppliers making up the exhibitors
You can also see artist’s exhibitions, or maybe even a collaboration of artists’ work around a theme here too. For many artists it’s a great opportunity to meet and learn from other tattooists and these exhibitions provide the best inspiration.
As Dublin is one of the best renowned cities for art and culture, with some of the best exhibition spaces - there is of course an yearly event - The Dublin Tattoo Convention. It occurs in November, usually in the Royal Dublin Society (RDS). They invite local artists to participate earlier in the year, and you should encourage your tattooists to be there. It's a lot of fun
But Dublin is not the only one in Ireland. Places like Midleton in Cork, Galway, Waterford, Limerick and Derry have their own exhibitions, while Killarney hosts an international one each year too.
Further afield and the Ink and Iron Tattoo Convention in Birmingham is considered the UK’s most anticipated. Meanwhile the Rotterdam Tattoo Convention will be going into its 12th year in 2023 and attracts artists from all over Europe and beyond.
Beyond that it’s the United States which attracts some of the best tattooists and biggest crowds. More and more conventions are starting up every year. But some of the longest running and biggest include The Boston Tattoo Convention, Fresno Tattoo Expo in California and Ink Mayhem in Laughlin, Nevada (near Las Vegas)
It’s not just your artist that should go, it’s everyone. But these conventions are especially valuable to tattooists. It allows them to and to share their know-how, their experience and their methods. It also allows them to test new equipment or discover other aspects of the profession. And they’re really important for enriching them, and developing the evolution of their work. That, in turn, benefits you all as a business, and benefits your clients by getting the most amazing new art pieces on skin.
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