Tattoo Convention Survival Guide: Tips for Artists and Fans

Tattoo convention
Discover top tips for attending a tattoo convention. From packing essentials to planning your visit, we’ve got you covered.

Your first tattoo convention is a fascinating event, but we know that it’s often also daunting with its unknowns. We once felt the same way when attending our first convention. To help tattoo fans get the most out of their first tattoo convention, we’ve compiled the experiences of our team and tattoo artists on the InkMatch platform into a handy guide.

This article will guide you through how tattoo fests work and share tips, and provide two checklists (for tattoo artists and visitors) used by our team.

So, let’s dive in!

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What Is a Tattoo Convention?

Imagine dozens of tattoo artists and hundreds of ink enthusiasts in one place creating new designs, sharing experiences and just having a great time. This magical place is a tattoo convention! At these events, artists get the spotlight to show off their skills and attract new clients, while tattoo culture fans can watch famous tattoo artists at work and even get unique ink.

Typically, tattoo conventions, also called fests, last from one to three days (from Friday to Sunday). They can be very different in scale from local events to world conventions that tour different cities reaching unimaginable sizes.

What Is a Tattoo Convention?

If you love inks, It is impossible to get bored at tattoo conventions, as the world of tattooing is boiling around. In addition to live tattooing, many other events have become an integral part of tattoo festivals. Here’s what you can expect to see at the convention:

  • Tattoo artist booths — one of the main attractions at any tattoo convention. Each booth is a mini-studio where tattoo artists perform their craft. They are often adorned with banners showcasing the artist’s portfolio, giving visitors a clear idea of their style and expertise.
  • Live tattooing — this is a highlight of these events. Visitors can watch artists work in real-time, offering a unique insight into the tattooing process. For those looking to get inked, it’s a chance to book sessions with renowned artists who may not be easily accessible otherwise.
  • Tattoo competitions — those are a staple of conventions, where tattoo fans and artists compete in various categories to win awards. These competitions highlight the best work in different styles and themes, providing inspiration and showcasing top-tier talent.

What Is a Tattoo Convention?

  • Educational seminars and workshops — many conventions feature educational components, including seminars and workshops on topics such as tattoo techniques, hygiene, and industry trends. These sessions are valuable for both novice and experienced artists looking to enhance their skills.
  • Vendor booths — beyond tattooing, conventions host a variety of vendors selling tattoo-related merchandise, equipment, and aftercare products. This marketplace is an excellent resource for artists to stock up on supplies and for visitors to purchase unique, tattoo-inspired items.
  • Live music — organizers are always keen to invite local bands to the convention. Sometimes their performance is accompanied by a fire show or dancing.

How Do Tattoo Conventions Work?

A tattoo convention is a large-scale event, its planning begins half a year in advance, or even a year in advance. Organizers have to arrange the space rental and prepare booths and furniture for tattoo artists. In addition, they organize advertising and various activities such as live music and workshops.

Once the organization phase is over, ticket sales begin. For visitors, it usually costs $20-50, while the price of booth rental for tattoo artists and vendors can go up to $1000, and even more at world conventions. Tickets are divided by day, but there is also a single ticket for all days of the convention and VIP tickets.

In addition, tattoo artists also have to pay for equipment transportation, and a temporary tattoo license. This is why tattoos at conventions are more expensive than in parlors. 

On the day of the convention, thousands of visitors and hundreds of tattoo artists gather to celebrate tattoo culture together. The organizers offer a program where all events and activities are scheduled by hours, the days are also often divided by theme.  

How Do Tattoo Conventions Work?

How Do You Find a Tattoo Fest?

There are many tattoo conventions in the United States throughout the year, and finding them is very easy. Organizers usually promote their conventions on social media, and you can also find a list of all the fests in your area on the World Tattoo Events website.

When choosing a convention, it is important to consider whether you want to get to a huge event with hundreds of tattoo artists or visit a local tattoo party where everyone is like one family. The reason to visit this or that tattoo fest may be the activities offered by the organizers or your favorite tattoo artist who will be working there. 

In addition, it is important to consider that many conventions are themed, such as an anime tattoo festival or dedicated to the Mexican Day of the Dead. Some tattoo conventions have an age limit of 18+. It’s worth considering the specifics of different fests so you don’t end up at an event where you’ll be bored or uncomfortable.

Here’s a short list of the most popular annual tattoo conventions:

  • – Ink Masters — the USA, takes place in many cities throughout the year
  • – Inkers Tattoo Expo — the USA, also takes place in various cities
  • – Berlin Tattoo Convention — Germany
  • – International London Tattoo Convention — the UK
  • – Rio Tattoo Week — Brazil

Guide on How to Prepare for a Tattoo Convention

Preparing for a tattoo convention is the foundation of your comfort and an amazing experience. This stage is important not only for tattoo artists but also for visitors, as many people are disappointed with tattoo conventions because of discomfort that could have been avoided. 

Preparing artists and attendees is very different, so we have gathered the experience of our team and the tattoo artists on our platform to put together a complete guide.

Guide on How to Prepare for a Tattoo Convention

For Visitors 

To be well-prepared, visitors need to think about their comfort first and foremost. Tattoo conventions can be noisy and exhausting, so experienced attendees prefer layered clothing and comfortable shoes, and never forget about water and snacks. 

Let’s go over all the steps to prepare for tattoo conventions:

  • Research the event. Start by gathering information about the convention, including the dates, location, and list of attending artists. Check the event’s website and social media pages for the latest updates.
  • Plan your budget. Allocate funds for tickets, tattoos, merchandise, food, and other expenses. Tattoo prices can vary widely, so it’s wise to have a flexible budget.
  • Buy tickets in advance. Many conventions offer early bird discounts for tickets purchased in advance. This also helps avoid long queues at the venue.
  • Book a tattoo artist. If the artist you’d like to get inked from will be at the convention, contact them in advance. Tattoo artists usually announce open bookings on their social media, so don’t miss your chance. 

For Visitors

  • Book accommodations early. If you’re traveling for a big convention, book your hotel well in advance, as nearby accommodations tend to fill up quickly.
  • Take care of your comfort. Prepare clothes in which you will feel comfortable getting a tattoo in front of other visitors. Also bring water, snacks, and other tattoo convention must-haves. You can find a full list in our checklist below.
  • Prepare for tattooing. If you plan to get tattooed, ensure you’re in good health. Stay hydrated, avoid alcohol, and get a good night’s sleep before the event.
  • Bring cash and cards. Some vendors or tattoo artists may only take cash, while others prefer cards.
  • Stay open-minded. Be ready to see lots of different art styles and meet new people. Enjoy the experience!

Checklist of tattoo convention must-haves for visitors

Checklist of tattoo convention must-haves for visitors

For Tattoo Artists

Tattoo artists attending conventions need to be well-prepared to make the most of the opportunity. Not only the creation of tattoos, but also promotion, communication with fans, and selling the merchandise fall on tattoo artists’ shoulders. One person just can’t cope with all these tasks, so often tattoo artists have an assistant who takes on some of the work. 

It usually takes a couple of months for a tattoo artist to prepare for a convention. Of course, when you’ve been preparing for so long, you want to make the most out of every minute, but it’s important to keep your comfort in mind and schedule time to eat and attend your desired lectures and competitions.

Let’s take a look at our step-by-step guide:

  • 1. Research the event. Start by gathering information about the convention, including the dates, location, and requirements for tattoo artists. Check the event’s website and social media pages for the latest updates.

  • 2. Get a tattoo license. This point will be important for those who go to a tattoo convention in another state, as your license will not be valid there. 

To be able to participate in the convention, tattoo artists should apply for a temporary tattoo license, which usually requires you to provide your state’s license, the necessary certificates, and pay a fee. This process can often take a long time, so we suggest calling that state’s local department a few months before the convention.

If you live in a state where artists are not required to have a personal tattoo license, and you want to go to a state that does require one, in some cases you will have to apply for a regular tattoo license to prove your competence.

  • 3. Reserve your booth. Book your booth as soon as possible, because popular conventions often sell out quickly. This involves filling out an application form and providing samples of your work and tattoo license. If your application is approved, organizers will send you a confirmation and ask to pay for the booth space.

Reserve your booth.

  • 4. Promote your attendance. Use social media to announce your participation. Engage with potential clients and book some appointments in advance to ensure a busy and productive convention. 

  • 5. Find a person to help you. Make sure you have an assistant at the tattoo convention who can handle sales and walk-in bookings. This could be a friend or colleague from your tattoo shop who is not participating in the fest as a tattoo artist.

  • 6. Preparation for promotion. Prepare a digital or physical portfolio, tattoo artist convention banner, and business cards so that potential clients at the convention can get information about your art without distracting you. Also, prepare some flash tattoo sheets to maximize walk-in bookings.

  • 7. Book accommodation and airline tickets. Choose a hotel with meals because after a full day of non-stop tattooing, you won’t have the energy to eat outside as you’ll most likely want to go to bed as soon as possible. When booking plane tickets, keep in mind that tattoo equipment is very fragile, and it’s safer to pay for better service than to end up at a convention with a broken tattoo machine.

  • 8. Pack essential supplies. Ensure you have all necessary equipment, including inks, needles, tattoo machines, and hygiene supplies. There is no need to bring in extra as you can always buy supplies from the vendors. Use our checklist below to make sure you don’t forget anything important.

  • 9. Tattoo convention booth set up. On the first day of the convention, tattoo artists arrive before the opening to set up and decorate their booths.

  • 10. Network. Prepare to network with other artists and industry professionals. Be ready to engage in collaborations and take maximum from this experience.

Checklist of tattoo convention must-haves for tattoo artists

Checklist of tattoo convention must-haves for tattoo artists

Tips to Maximize Your Tattoo Fest Experience

Attending a tattoo fest can be an exciting and memorable experience. Everyone wants to get the most out of a tattoo convention, but all they find are tips like being respectful of the tattoo artist’s time and space because they’re at work, or taking earplugs or noise-canceling headphones with them. 

These tips are certainly useful, but two questions concern tattoo artists and tattoo convention visitors the most, and now we will answer them.

How to get tattooed at a convention?

First, book in advance. Popular artists’ schedules fill up quickly, so contact your preferred artist ahead of time to secure an appointment. Discuss your desired design with them so it doesn’t take up your time at the convention.

If you are relying on walk-in booking, ask tattoo artists if they support this format and if they have any spaces left. This method of getting a tattoo is full of surprises, as you will often get the chance to get inked in the most unexpected style.

Tips to Maximize Your Tattoo Fest Experience

Prepare for tattooing by ensuring you are well-rested, hydrated, and have eaten a good meal before. Avoid alcohol and drugs as they can thin your blood and affect the tattoo process. A tattoo artist cannot give you a tattoo if these requirements are not met and will have to refuse.

Wear appropriate clothing that is comfortable and allows easy access to the area being tattooed. Finally, follow aftercare instructions strictly to ensure proper healing after getting your tattoo.

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Learn all the steps of tattoo aftercare in our guide to ensure a smooth healing process.

How do you get more customers?

Display your best work prominently in a booth using high-quality images. This will attract attention and showcase your skills. Also, interact with visitors, be welcoming and friendly, answer questions, provide consultations, and be available to discuss your work with potential clients. Offer unique small tattoos that can be done quickly, to attract customers. 

If you’ve booked a few sessions before the convention, you’re certainly not going to be without customers already. What’s more, when other visitors see you at work, it increases the chance that they’ll want your ink too. You can also collaborate with other tattoo artists. This kind of show is very popular, and you will not go unnoticed.

Tattoo convention

Summary

Tattoo conventions are amazing events for tattoo fans and artists. You can see many styles, meet famous artists, and even get a unique tattoo. Preparing well and knowing what to expect can make your visit more enjoyable, so we hope our guide was helpful to you. 

To make you feel more confident, we have explained everything about tattoo conventions and shared useful tips. Even if your first experience was not the most pleasant, maybe with good preparation you will get much more positive emotions.

If you’ve never been to a tattoo convention then this is a sign, now is the time!

FAQ

🤔 What Is the Point of a Tattoo Convention?

Tattoo conventions serve as a community hub for networking, education, and artistic expression within the tattoo world. They provide opportunities for tattoo artists to demonstrate their skills, for visitors to get new tattoos, and for everyone to learn about the latest trends and techniques in the industry.

🧳 How to Prepare for a Tattoo Convention?

To prepare for a tattoo convention, research information about the participating artists and make an appointment in advance if you want to get a tattoo. Bring cash, as many vendors may not accept cards. Don’t forget to drink and bring snacks to keep your energy up throughout the day.

💬 How Do Tattoo Expos Work?

Tattoo expos, also known as tattoo conventions, bring together tattoo artists and tattoo enthusiasts to share their work and get new tattoos. Artists set up booths to showcase their portfolios, and visitors get tattoos on the spot. There are often contests, live music, and seminars on tattooing techniques.

🔎 What Is a Tattoo Festival?

A tattoo festival or tattoo convention is a large-scale event where tattoo artists and tattoo enthusiasts gather to celebrate tattoo culture. Visitors can meet renowned artists, get tattooed, and buy related merchandise. The festival often includes entertainment such as music, performances, and workshops.

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