Every year, Philadelphia hosts the biggest tattoo convention in the country.
I pretty much stayed away from the whole freak show, magazine & celebrity aspect of it since I wanted to feature some actual artists. No disrespect since that’s a huge part of the history & culture and any press helps the industry in this tough economy. I just felt there were some newer emerging artists who are getting pretty damn awesome at introducing their own aesthetic to the craft.
First off, if you’re hungry or have a friend working inside who can’t make it out, head over to Reading Terminal Market for a hoagie or some snacks or better yet, grab a Vietnamese sandwich at QT on 10th St. I tend to opt for the sardines which take longer but are worth the wait.
They are not supposed to let drinks in so make sure you’re hydrated unless you want to pay $3.25 for bottled water. Otherwise $5 for a PBR isn’t too bad and will help take the edge off once you’re slowly weaving through the thousands of wanderers. The pizza and nachos actually looked pretty good too but I purposely didn’t check the price. Like I said, you’re in Philly so might as well experience the amazing food the neighborhood as to offer.
My main goal was to say hello to my old friend Ron Henry Wells from our Boston hardcore days of the early 90s. Back in the day kids would crowd around to see his graffiti black book and now he’s got about 7K instagram followers and is often booked up to eight months in advance. He’s known for his deconstructed heavy black & red roses and of course his recurring and evolving Twin Peaks themed tattoos, especially owls. He shared a booth with Chris Cautillo from Broad St Tattoo in Bridgewater, MA.
I then stumbled across the 200 aisle, which featured several artists associated with the likes of NYC’s Thicker Than Water & Three Kings Tattoo. I was somewhat star struck in a way by seeing my real life instagram/tumblr feed lined up one by one with artists such as Dave Ball, Mike Adams, Andy Perez, Ashley Love, Tron & Matt Biveto, who had a sweet rather elaborately hand sewn banner. Representing Greenpoint Tattoo a few rows away was Mark Cross. On the way to finding him I was able to snap a few pics of legends Crazy Philadelphia Eddie, Zeke Owens, Bowery Stan and Tony Polito, who was just finishing up a nice arm piece on an extremely stoked young lad.
I was able to come across a small percentage of great local artists representing Philadelphia such as The Gus, who had some killer handmade leather wallets for sale, and Jason Goldberg of Olde City Tattoo, also folks from Evolution and Art Machine Productions. I went for a couple of hours on Saturday & Sunday, which is not nearly enough time to cover the immense pool of talent showcased at this enormous venue. Looking forward to next year to hopefully cover people I missed such as the likes of Civ, Marina Inoue, Jack Rudy & more of the local Philadelphia artists let alone those representing SF, La, England and beyond, which will take all three days!
My advice to anyone going next year is to follow a few artists on instagram & tumblr, see how their work varies & progresses and who they like as well.