It’s been a number of years since I did a convention.  I only did a couple before deciding that it “was not for me”.  I felt nervous tattooing and frankly did not have the confidence to go out and tattoo in front of a crowd.

I think my regular clients would concede that I work hard for them, I am in the Studio six – sometimes seven – days a week and I put the hours in; don’t get me wrong I enjoy almost every minute.  Staring at the same four walls day after day does tend to bring on the “stir craziness” but I don’t have time for holidays at the moment, I am working to improve my colour work.

So a weekend in Blackpool sounded like it could be a bit of a holiday.

The convention was advertised as Friday to Sunday with Friday being press day.  As I mentioned, long time since my last convention and back then artist/press day was a big day.  So, we set off on Thursday evening.  We set off late.  Despite having two months to prepare for this, we were unprepared.  Lessons were learnt.  The mood was not helped by mile after mile of 50mph speed limit in order to protect plastic cones.  It’s been months since I travelled up the M1 and I spent the time trying to remember if I had ever actually seen a workman on this area of “roadworks” that seems to have been ongoing for years.

We arrived in Blackpool close to midnight, the hotel was imposing.  It looked like a castle.  I should think in its day it would have been quite the draw with a big ballroom out front.  Sadly 2017 is not its day, it has served its purpose, it was clean and the staff were friendly, but I expect more than a cup of “it’s coffee” in the morning for that price.

After finding and purchasing a jar of Nescafé we were down into the Blackpool Tattoo Convention area at around 10am.  We appeared to be early.  We slowly set up and at around 11am I started tattooing Anna’s leg.  Possibly the most peaceful session I have done in a few years; we tattooed for at least three hours without interruption. Everyone else started turning up mid afternoon.  Bit of a novice mistake and a lot of rushing for no reason, but at least I got my eye in.

Friday night we found a Mandarin Restaurant called Michael Wan’s in the town centre.  Apparently it is one of the top ten Cantonese restaurants in the UK and I would not argue with them.  It was really good; the duck was amazing.  If you get to Blackpool it is a great place to eat.

Saturday I made a start on Anna’s leg quite early.  We are working on a large, detailed Unicorn based on a piece of art by Christopher Lovell.  I was strangely nervous which was a new feeling.  After tattooing in my little Studio for so many years suddenly finding myself in new surroundings threw me slightly.  It was good, I was out of my comfort zone.  Saturday flew by for me, I met Jimmie Skuse, that much I remember.  A few other Tattoo Artists said hello but I was so wrapped up in Anna’s leg piece that I hardly looked up.  I was in the zone and not being rude.

We tattooed for a shade under ten hours on Anna’s leg.  We only stopped for the band who had been indulging themselves and annoying the hell out of me with over the top Death(?) Metal at regular intervals.  Another rookie mistake – take ear plugs next time.

After a full days tattooing our next ambition was food.  Not as easy as it sounds given all of my allergies and my assistant being a practicing gluten intolerant vegan.  Take away or eating out is a minefield.  So we skipped the Convention party and missed out on any networking opportunities in favour of finding sustenance.  It wasn’t looking good: Domino’s, Pizza Hut, Kentucky the usual suspects where in full evidence. Then like a little oasis out of nowhere I spotted Faringo’s Vegan cafe. Sorted.

On Sunday I had Cathy booked in.  She had contacted me after speaking to someone else for six months only to be let down at the last minute. She was thinking a pocket watch, but after pointing out that I do quite a lot and a change would be nice we found this Steampunk cat based on the artwork of Jeff Haynie and decided to tattoo that. Cathy sat really well and we were finished by 5pm just in time for judging “The Best of Sunday” at the Blackpool Tattoo Convention.

I loaded the van whilst Anna and Cathy sorted the competition entry, we then waited until nearly 8pm for the result.  We only stayed as the nice lady from Total Tattoo had scored it highly, as high as she could apparently. So we thought we were in with a shout.  It wasn’t to be; we didn’t place.  It was announced so late that the lady from Total Tattoo had already left so there were only four judges remaining. They must have hated it, not only did it not place we didn’t even make the gallery on the Blackpool Tatcon website for Sunday!

Must try harder.

I wished I had followed the lady form Total Tattoo when she left.  Because as soon as we left the van blew a headlight bulb.  I tried to find a replacement but it wasn’t going to happen; couldn’t get the bulb out, let alone find a replacement.  Thanks VW.

All in all a great experience, a lot of hard work but inspirational for sure. Next convention I do I will definitely take some time to walk around and see what everyone else is doing. 

The next one is the Halloween Tattoo Bash up in Wolverhampton, see you there.  If you fancy a horror piece then why not give me a try?