Friday, January 16, 2015

2015 Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival Convention Floor (Day Two)

 If you would like to read about the Opening Party (Day One), click here

 There is nothing quite like a tattoo convention.  Studios, artists, suppliers, vendors, and entertainers from all over the world set-up to show their collective stuff to the public and to share what they do with the industry.  The biggest conventions, like the Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival, draw international crowds, giving local artists an opportunity to rub elbows with the best in the industry and make their mark (literally).  The Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival is an annual event in Austin, usually scheduled in January for one weekend.  Most years I manage to visit for one day, often on a run to score a deal on tattoo-ink sets and other supplies while checking out the latest innovations in the industry.  This year, one of my daughters gave me a weekend-pass as a Christmas present, so I will be going every day and taking in as many of the events as possible.
 First of all, let's start with some convention tips:

 -Know when the convention opens.  I was under the impression that the convention opened at 10am, when it in fact opened at noon.  I arrived at 11, while artists were still setting up.  My bad.

 -Wear comfortable shoes.  This comes from past experience.  My Doc Martens are awesome boots, but walking and standing in them for hours is tough on the feet.

 -Check out all the vendors and artists booths before you start spending.  There are over 250 exhibitors displaying their talents and wares.  You may regret an impulse purchase at the front end of the show when you get around to the back end. 

Chris Trevino!
 -Bring a bottle of water.  Even on a cool day, all the bodies milling around on the convention floor will generate some heat.  You may also want to leave your jacket in the car.

 -If you can, make your purchases on your way out.  Even carrying a poster can start to get cumbersome after an hour or two.

 -Treat the portfolios gently.  Take a look through each of the portfolios.  Compliment the artists if they are on hand.  There are no slackers at the convention.  Everyone brought their A-game.

 -Watch where you are stepping, and be courteous.  There are a lot of bodies milling around, so be careful and try to show everyone a little respect.

Kids Corner
 -Ask permission before taking pictures of people getting tattooed.  Most people getting work done at a convention are comfortable with being seen, but it is always best to ask.

 The Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival has been a local event for 13 years running, and is one of the largest tattoo conventions in Texas.  Each year, hundreds of exhibitors and thousands of patrons visit the convention to see the art, enjoy the shows, and get tattoos.

 For tattoo artists, conventions offer a number of opportunities.  Seminars on everything from tattoo safety to styles of art are held during conventions, giving artists and chance to learn and grow.  Talent from all over the world is often drawn to the convention, allowing artists to see what others are doing and hone their own skills based on the practices they observe.  The event allows local shops to reach out to the community and share what they do, drawing additional business for the rest of the year.  It is a great time to meet with vendors and see new innovations in the industry being offered to make the tattoo process safer and better for customers and tattooers.  It is also a great time to show their stuff, rub elbows with leaders in the tattoo field, and enjoy being immersed in the tattoo culture.

Daaron Davis!
 It was awesome to observe some of these guys and gals at work, and to talk to them about what they have going on.  Daaron Davis, Phil Hatchet Yau, Chris Trevino, and their clients, were all cool enough to let me photograph them while they did their thing.  Each was engaged in an impressive piece of art, and I did not want to be too much of a distraction.  

 For visitors, collectors, and the curious, there is plenty going on as well.  You not only have some of the most amazing talent on display available to give you a great tattoo, you also have an incredible collection of fine and graphic artists sharing their creations.  The Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival features an art gallery of tattoo-themed art, ranging from traditional tattoo work to pieces that rival classical fine art.  At the booths, artists offer small pieces and prints to give even those on a modest budget an opportunity to own a piece of out-of-the-ordinary art.  Children are welcomed and encouraged to visit the Kids Corner, where they can get pictures as a tattoo gal or gent, get fake tattoos, and color tattoo coloring pages.  At 7pm Friday and Saturday, several performers take the stage, offering exotic attractions that will impress and amaze.
Art Gallery

 The crowd today was already building before the doors opened at noon, and only grew as the day went on.  Machines were buzzing as soon as the doors were open.  It is not uncommon for tattoo artists to schedule appointments for conventions (if you wish to be tattooed by a participating artists, appointments in advance are always a good idea), but many of the artists were ready to take walk-ups.  The portfolios on display all featured some amazing work, making the toughest choice often who to get a tattoo from.  For those wanting to become tattoo artists themselves, the convention offers a great opportunity to pick the brains of some of the best in the industry, as all the artists are more open to discuss the business at these events.  It is also an excellent chance to observe tattoos being rendered by masters of the craft.  
Phil Hatchet Yau!

  Every time I go the convention, there is always at least one piece of art that really catches my eye, and I find I have to have a print or copy of the work.  I recently realized that almost without fail, that art work was created by one artist, Mr. Joey Ortega.  I bought one of his pieces years ago when I went to my first Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival, and wouldn't you know it that as I walked the booths today I saw a piece I liked and it was one of his.  Joey Ortega has designed the Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival poster for years, and this year it was my great honor to finally meet the man and humbly have my photo taken with him.  Thank you, sir!

Joey Ortega with some Tattoo Nerd
 I will also be remiss if I did not mention who I spent most of the afternoon with.  Mr. Kyle Giffen and his tattoo studio, Little Pricks Tattoos, saved me from several hours on my feet while I chatted Kyle up on everything from the tattoo biz to our personal lives.  Kyle is by far one of the most talented tattoo artists I know, and he has put together a stellar crew, arguably one of the best crews in the Greater Austin Area.  Anyone who knows Kyle also knows that the man is always humble, upbeat, open, and incredibly generous with his time and talents.  Kyle is a great friend, and the convention is always an opportunity for us to get together and catch-up on things.  The work of his crew; Tita Jewels (co-owner), Zack Ross, and Chris Hedlund, is simply outstanding.  This year, they are located catercorner from the art gallery.  Stop by their booth, check them out, and grab a card.  If you are wanting a tattoo, you have found the right shop.
Kyle Giffen!

 The Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival really is a great event, even if you are not tattoo-inclined.  The art and the vibe are well worth experiencing.  The convention will be going strong for two more days, and if you miss it you will not get another chance to see it until 2016.

 I also wanted to say thank you to everyone that made my being at the convention as a spectator this year possible.  The little fundraiser I held allowed the Tattoo Nerd to take time off of work to be at the convention all four days, and to really make the most of the weekend.  It was humbling to see so much support and love from so many people, and my family and I cannot thank you enough!  

Jason Sorrell is a writer, tattoo artist, satirist, artist, and generally nice guy living in Austin, TX.  He loves answering questions about tattoos.  Shoot him a message at

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