Berlin International Tattoo Convention 2013

On the weekend 2–4. August over 200 tattoo artists, fans and curious visitors all converge onto STATION Berlin at Luckenwalder Straße 4–6, Gleisdreieck (next to the U-Bahn stop) to work, display, meet and check-out tattoo artistry. It is a chance for international artists and locals alike to compare their skills, and includes a competition for artists and wearers - with the Tattoo Queen 2014 being declared.

There are a range of styles on display, including: Asian, Pacific, Tribal, Pop- Art, Traditional and Modern. The convention also features on-site piercing and an auction of rare, unique "Fusion" pieces, created on-site by up to four artists working together over the weekend. These group collaborative sketches are then auctioned off and the proceeds go towards "Ark" Berlin, to feed hungry kids in Berlin.

It's a great opportunity to wander amongst so many walking artworks and celebrate an international community of colorful outcasts. If you get the chance to attend this weekend it is well worth a look.

When walking around the convention, I felt at first a little conspicuous, being completely tattoo-free, but found that no-one really cares. The convention certainly embodies the "anything goes" attitude of Berlin. I was expecting to just see a whole lot of people lining up to get fresh work done, or old work improved, but was surprised to learn how much more went on behind the scenes and this was obvious by the amount of stalls there for tattoo artists.

There were a great deal of vendors selling tattooing equipment; such as guns, inks and needles. It was good to see how customised some of this equipment can be, with many local and handmade tattoo-gun makers competing with larger more established suppliers.

Some equipment suits different tattooing-styles better. For example, many of the colored artists guns need to be more heavy duty as colour tattoos usually require the application of more ink to the skin, in order to make the color as bright as possible. Black or grey tattoos often use shading, and as less ink is embedded in the skin, they are typically quicker to heal and fade less noticeably.

A lot of this comes down to the artist though. Many colour tattoo-experts will guarantee their colours for life and in the end it depends on personal choice.

The crowd seemed relaxed and easy-going; it felt like the people were really settled in for the duration of the weekend. There was plenty of live music, with beer flowing as well as ink, and an overall atmosphere of camaraderie. If you find the idea of lots of tough-looking tattooed people in one place intimidating, you might be surprised by how many smiles and friendly, approachable types were there.

After a while, I even stopped asking if people minded having their photo taken as several told me of course they wouldn't mind – the whole convention was about showing off and having work seen be as many people as possible. If you get the chance I would recommend coming down this weekend, or checking out any of the other fairs in Amsterdam or around Germany.

By Neal James
Neal follows music, art, good food, bad food and great beer wherever it takes him. Currently he resides in the dreamworld of Berlin where he tries not to be too content or productive.
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