A Newbie's Guide to The Manchester International Tattoo Show
The sound of buzzing needles is probably the first thing you’ll hear. Or maybe the bassline of a burlesque performance, a few riffs from an acoustic set. Stalls of goodies, trinkets and clothes entice you already and bodies adorned in art browse the aisles. You’re walking into your first tattoo convention and laid out in front of you is the world’s elite of the industry. It all sounds a little overwhelming and it can be - but we’re here to help! Check out our top tips to planning, booking and getting your ink as well as making the most of what our shows have to offer!
Planning Your Tattoo
When it comes to getting tattooed at a convention, you’re faced with two options. The first is to turn up and scope out the situation on the day by digging through artist portfolios until you find what you’re looking for. Many tattoo artists won’t have booked themselves solid, and instead offer to do ‘walk-ups’. If so, chances are the artist will have tons of sketches ready to go, one of which could be just what you’re looking for. Top Tip: Talk! Don’t be afraid to ask questions, make conversation. Tattoo artists are people, not monsters and we promise they don’t bite - although their needles might sting a little!
The second option is to pre-book. If you see an artist is guest to a show you happen to be at, don’t take any chances on there being a spot for you on the day - get in contact before the show and book your tattoo! Tattoo artists are popular creatures and slots will fill up quick, so make sure you’re fast to reserve your new ink. However if you miss out, don’t panic. If your chosen artist is international, it is worth remembering that they could be in the country a little longer, taking a guest spot at a local studio. So don’t be afraid to ask and keep a keen eye on their social media for any opportunities. Nearly everyone is on Facebook, so don’t be afraid to get in contact with artists and be sure to check out the convention’s website,Facebook page and event site for all the latest news.
One last piece of advice - do your homework. If you’re coming to a show to get a tattoo, research the artists you like and come with an idea. All good shows will have an up to date artist list where you can check out specific artists and get in touch with them, so make good use of it!
Getting Your Tattoo
So you’ve got your ticket, you’ve booked your tattoo, you’ve met your artist and you’re totally psyched about getting your new ink. All of a sudden, you realise you’re getting inked in a place that’s gonna mean getting some flesh out and there’s a fair few thousand people walking about. Nervous? Don’t be! This is what these guys are here for (no, not for you flashing specifically) but for the great artwork you’re about to receive. Own it! Passers-by and their questions might even distract you from the sensations running through your body and you’ll no doubt find that convention goers are full of compliments! So don’t be shy, it’s a pretty unique experience!
Top Tip: Make sure you wear suitable clothing, if you’re gunning for a big piece, make sure you’ve got some comfortable clothes for afterwards!
What’s Going On?
You’re at the show and your husband, wife, best mate or Grandma is off getting tattooed - so what’s going to keep you entertained whilst they’re getting inked? Fear not! There’s plenty going on. If you haven’t already, this is the perfect time to go and investigate some of the artists and meet them in person. Even if you’ve liked every one of their Facebook photos, double tapped their Instagram page and re blogged that last tattoo post a thousand times, you won’t be sure whether to commit to a piece until you’ve met them in person. So go hang out with the tattoo guru of your dreams, and hopefully your skin will very quickly become their canvas.
Top tip: A lot of artists will be ‘in-the-zone’. Being ‘in-the-zone’ can often be diagnosed by the following symptoms - headphones, furrowed brows, head torches and tongues hanging out. It’s a serious condition in found in many artists and we recommend you steer clear of disturbing them until all symptoms are cleared. They will have a break at some point, and you should grab a quick chat then :) .
You’re also likely to be tempted by a whole host of vendors, selling everything from clothing to tattoo-related artwork. These stalls are home to loads of treasures and we challenge you not fall in love with at least one trinket! So feel free to bring your hard earned pocket money and treat yourself.
Top Tip: Although cash machines are available at all our conventions, they can run out and might not be to hand. Most vendors and traders deal with cash only transactions, so stock up the wallet to avoid queues.
As much as tattoo conventions are about tattooing, they are also about great entertainment for all the family. There is a massive amount of stuff going on at our shows, from chilled acoustic music and burlesque, to the weird and wonderful world of magic and freak-shows.
Jaw droppingly good entertainment is what we aim to give you, all weekend.
Top Tip: Even our family friendly shows (Tattoo Freeze) are partial to a bit of nudity - it’s the nature of the beast! So before you come with the kids in tow, be sure you’re happy with any unexpected slips!
Finally, there’s something pretty special about knowing you’re in a room full of like minded people. After all, you’re all there to appreciate and celebrate the art of tattooing! So why not grab a drink, strike up some conversation and make some friends with other art enthusiasts.
If you’re sticking around all weekend, come down to the after show party to celebrate the end of the show. Almost compulsory for the convention organisers, the party ensures that all guests see the weekend off with a bang, so don’t miss out on some truly awful dancing from the Jazz Events team.
Remember, come with an open mind, get involved and just enjoy it! We like to make new friends, so don’t be shy to ask us any questions (or check our FAQ here) and come and say hi. See you guys there!
And if you’re like us and think that once a year just isn’t enough ink, come visit us at our other conventions. With four shows a year, we promise to fill yer boots with all the tattoo goodness you could possibly want! So quick! Go get your tickets and we’ll see you at the show :)