The Pros & Cons of Tattoo Conventions

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Here are some other hints to help make your first tattoo convention a great experience:

-Book your rooms well in advance! These things do sell out and the farther away you are from the convention site the more likely you are to miss out on the fun.

-Be patient and polite to everyone at the convention, including other guests, the staff, and the artists. Everyone is in the same boat as you- if it’s crowded, it’s crowded for everyone; if it’s hot, stinky, loud, slow, etc, maintain respect and understanding for everyone around you. It’s a tough, inconvenient environment at times, but it;s always worth being considerate.

-Research and contact the artist(s) you wish to get work from in advance. If you miss that opportunity, be at the convention first thing when the doors open on day 1 to try to get an appointment set up! Some of these artists can book the whole show in the first 30 minutes of the opening day. Don’t let the chance slip by, you may never have another opportunity to get tattooed by them again; artists come in and drop out of the convention circuit all the time.

-Unless you know which artist you want to get work on by, take your time at each booth, examine all the portfolios you can until you see someone with the talent to do what it is you want done.

-Don’t haggle. In spite of the circus-like atmosphere, conventions are not flea-markets, and the artists in attendance aren’t junk-dealers or used car salesmen/women. They are professional craftspeople, with traveling expenses, who likely dropped a lot of money to come to your town and make their services available to those who want their work. If you don’t think their price is in your range, thank them for their time and move on to another artist. After comparing quality and prices, you may be back!

ink bomb convention

-Be prepared to leave a deposit. This one always seems to surprise some people. If you are making an appointment to get tattooed, and an artist has to take time in advance to draw up what you want, then they NEED a deposit for that preliminary work, and to guarantee your spot on a busy day at the show. They are there to do tattoos and there’s only so many working hours in the day. The very last thing they need is to book a time slot and have a no-show.

-Be on TIME for your appointment. And I’d say the same thing to the artists. Some people are notoriously late, some just simply move slow, but I don’t think there’s a valid excuse for not behaving like a professional, on time and ready to go at the time you agreed to start. It’s disrespectful, and it goes both ways.

-TIP YOUR ARTIST. Whatever you are charged for you tattoo, if it’s done well and you are happy with the end-result, show your appreciation by leaving a tip.


I’ve been collecting tattoos since 1985, doing them since 1990, and publishing TAM since 2003.


READ MORE about tattoo conventions:

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Tattoo Artist since 1990 and creator/publisher of Tattoo Artist Magazine since 2003

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One thought on “The Pros & Cons of Tattoo Conventions

  1. Thank you for sharing that article, I’ll be attending my first Tattoo convention in Tulsa, Ok in April 24-26 downtown at the Hyatt Regency hotel, I think it’s gonna rock, and I’m going to see if i can get a piece done there. Cheers.

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