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Curiocity: Minneapolis Tattoo Convention Has Local Artists Abuzz

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Eric Henderson Eric Henderson
Eric Henderson joined the WCCO.COM web team in June 2006 and currently...
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(credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The sound and scent of skin getting freshly inked will be in the air at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis this weekend.

The Minneapolis Tattoo Arts Convention will be holding court there, as throngs of tattoo artists, vendors, enthusiasts and willing human canvasses alike all descend on the city.

This year will mark the event’s fourth year in the city, though as the video clip below shows, it’s hardly like the Twin Cities metro area is brand new to the idea of body art. Thirty five years ago, Minnesota’s then-governor Rudy Perpich declared Jan. 28 to be “Tattoo Art Appreciation Day.” (Hat tip to MN 70s.)

This year, the convention is headlined by coast-to-coast superstars of the tattoo scene: Megan Massacre, one of the artists featured in TLC’s reality TV series “NY Ink,” and Amy Nicoletto, who represents the west coast in “LA Ink.” They will be just two among the estimated 300 artists on hand during the weekend.

Also on hand to provide a freakier form of entertainment will be The Enigma and Serana Rose, both of whom know how to hang a picture from the inside of their noses. (Hint: They use nails.) There are also seminars, cutting-edge vendors and contests for participating artists. There’s also always the opportunity to get a little ink done while you’re in attendance.

Ticket prices are $20 per day or $40 for the weekend.

WCCO.COM contacted some of the artists scheduled to attend the convention this year to get their thoughts on what are some of the hottest ink trends of the new year, why it seems everyone and their grandmother are getting tatted these days, and, most importantly, does it hurt?

Scroll down to also see a collection of images from the artists we talked with.

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What are some of the hottest trends for tats in 2013, be they styles or designs?

Jason Walstrom, Sea Wolf Tattoo Company (Minneapolis): Styles come and go in tattooing as with many things in popular culture. Currently I cannot pin point a specific trend in tattooing, but what I personally am most excited about is the resurgence of a more classic, refined traditional look that tattooing had in the beginning of its history in western culture. Folky, Americana, and Patriotic designs taken from early wartime tattoo flash and given a fresh, cleaned up look.

Megan Hoogland, Mecca Tattoo (Mankato): Lettering! I’m also starting to see a lot more large scale first-time tattoos.

Adam Underwood, Mutiny Tattoo & Piercing (Minneapolis): I really think that western traditional tattooing is starting to make a big comeback. A lot of people refer to them as “Old School” or “Sailor Tattoos” but it’s not necessarily that. It has more to do with bold imagery, and designs that are meant to be tattoos. The iconography with traditional tattooing has changed quite a bit over the years, but the methods of bold lines, bright colors, and heavy black shading is still the same. It makes for a tattoo that will stand the test of time. It’s the root of tattooing, and it’s nice that more and more people are asking for them these days.

CM Rutledge, Beloved Studios (St. Paul): I believe the trend of vibrant, bright, rich and exciting work is what people are looking for today. Not to mention, people are looking for fairly sizeable tattoos to add to their collection.

Brandon Heffron, Beloved Studios (St. Paul): We try to not go trendy at Beloved Studios. But if I had to say animals and flowers are pretty popular. I guess you can’t go wrong with nature.

Jerome James, The Canvas Tattoo Studio (Eagan/Eden Prairie/Prior Lake): I believe the reasons behind the huge interest in tattoos today is due to all of the TV programs now out, and a whole new younger generation of people growing up in this age! It definitely has opened everyone’s eyes to the true art and reasons behind each tattoo. The old stereo types of tattoos are starting to disappear.

What do you think accounts for the huge surge in tattoos’ popularity in recent years?

Heffron: The advancement in quality art. The possibilities of what can be done on skin. Popularity in the mainstream (TV), social media, etc.

Hoogland: I think the TV shows have helped dismiss a lot of public uncertainty, though most of my clients come from referrals or the customer researching artists on the Internet.

Rutledge: I’m sure that the vast amounts of tattoo based television shows available have quite a bit to do with the surge in popularity, however, I believe too that tattoos are being seen as more of actual pieces of art rather than something used to rebel against mainstream society. People of all walks of life and ages are being tattooed. For instance, I once tattooed a 92-year-old lady and it was her FIRST TATTOO!! I’ve also tattooed lawyers, engineers and other very successful people that you may not expect to fit the “standard mold” of tattoo collectors.

Have there been any major innovations in tattoo technology you’re excited about?

Heffron: The machines are always improving. The pigments we are using these days are better. Everything seems to be improving.

Rutledge: Both tattoo machines and tattoo pigments have come such a long way even over the last 20 years. The thing I’m most excited about are the advances in tattoo machine technology, allowing them to be lighter in weight, smoother operating, as well as safer to use.

Hoogland: I think reputable artists sharing information has been huge in making everyone better as a whole.

If you could work on any celebrity, who would you choose and what would you tattoo on them?

Hoogland: Any of them. It seems like celebrities have the worst looking tattoos, so some cover ups may be in order.

Does it hurt?

Hoogland: Of course.

Rutledge: When I’m applying a tattoo on someone, I don’t ever feel a thing!! (Insert sarcasm.) A tattoo basically feels similar to scratching a sunburn. Much of the intensity of that however depends on a person’s own pain tolerance.

Heffron: It only hurts if you let it hurt. A lot of it depends on where it is on the body you’re getting tattooed. The ribs, stomach, behind the knees, the upper underarm are some of the more painful areas. I have some clients that can fall asleep while getting work done.

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Tattoo Artists’ Gallery

Brandon Heffron

(credit: Brandon Heffron/Beloved Studios)

(credit: Brandon Heffron/Beloved Studios)

(credit: Brandon Heffron/Beloved Studios)

(credit: Brandon Heffron/Beloved Studios)

——-

Megan Hoogland

(credit: Megan Hoogland)

(credit: Megan Hoogland)

(credit: Megan Hoogland)

(credit: Megan Hoogland)

——-

Jerome James

(credit: Jerome James/The Canvas Tattoo)

(credit: Jerome James/The Canvas Tattoo)

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CM Rutledge

(credit: CM Rutledge/Beloved Studios)

(credit: CM Rutledge/Beloved Studios)

(credit: CM Rutledge/Beloved Studios)

(credit: CM Rutledge/Beloved Studios)

——-

Adam Underwood

(credit: Adam Underwood/Mutiny Tattoo & Piercing

(credit: Adam Underwood/Mutiny Tattoo & Piercing

——-

Jason Walstrom

(credit: Jason Walstrom/SeaWolf Tattoo)

(credit: Jason Walstrom/SeaWolf Tattoo)

(credit: Jason Walstrom/SeaWolf Tattoo)

(credit: Jason Walstrom/SeaWolf Tattoo)

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