This ink doesn’t run: Richmond Tattoo Festival makes mark again

Local artist Keith Harper tattoos a convention attendee's arm on Sunday, the last day of the festival. Photo by Brooke Marsh.
Local artist Keith Harper tattoos a convention attendee’s arm on Sunday. Photo by Brooke Marsh.

People from all around the world were in Virginia’s capital city for one of the state’s largest celebrations of tattoo and body modification this weekend.

Nearly a hundred tattoo artists and thousands of enthusiasts alike gathered for the 23rd annual Richmond Art and Tattoo Festival at the Greater Richmond Convention Center to celebrate their shared love for body art Nov. 20-22.

Photo by Brooke Marsh
Photo by Brooke Marsh

Tattoo artists from California, Michigan and New York and a few international guests brought their varying styles and experiences to their booths.

One of those artists was David Bruehl, a three-year veteran of the convention from Red Letter1, a tattoo studio located in Tampa, Florida.

“Richmond (Art and Tattoo Festival) has always had a reputation for being a great convention with a fantastic roster of artists,” Bruehl said, “so it’s nice to work among them for a weekend.”

Flaco Productions, a company that has worked with similar events like the Salt Lake City International Tattoo Convention, managed the event this year.

Bruehl and the other artists travel to Richmond to show off their talents and represent their respective businesses. Many studios and parlors sent their top artists to the festival this weekend.

Local tattoo artists also got in on the festivities and used the weekend as an opportunity to get the word out about their shops.

Loose Screw Tattoos in Carytown was represented by many of their artists including Will Gonzalez, who specializes in “new school” style, and Jesse Smith who appeared on Ink Master in 2012.

Richmond-based shop Loose Screw's Jesse Smith tattooed at the convention this year. Photo by Brooke Marsh
Richmond-based shop Loose Screw’s Jesse Smith tattooed at the convention this year. Photo by Brooke Marsh

Other Richmond parlors that attended include Absolute Art Tattoo, Salvation Tattoo Gallery and Lucky 13 Tattoos.

At any point during the convention, anywhere between 50 to 100 artists were working simultaneously on clients who came to have their skin marked by renowned, professional tattoo artists.

Gonzalez said that he was impressed with some of the other events, including the daily tattoo contests, midget wrestling and regular wrestling and sword swallowing.

The daily tattoo contests include “Best Sleeve Tattoo,” “Best Portrait Tattoo,” and a “Tattoo of the Day” competition.

Bruehl said the festival is a “mellow, fun environment full of good people doing great tattoos.”

He said that one of the main reasons many artists came to the festival was to reconnect with old friends, other artists and potential clients to have fun for a few days.

“Conventions are the time when we get together and hang out,” Gonzalez said. “Tattoo artists are a small community of friends and family.”

The convention also attracts onlookers without an interest in getting a tattoo. There was plenty of print and three-dimensional art done by the same artists who focus on tattoos, which attracted people like VCU freshman Victoria Vazquez.

“I like tattoos, actually I love them,” Vazquez said. “I’m always looking for something new and awesome at festivals like this.”

Article by: Samuel Goodrich, Contributing Writer

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply