Question: How do I have a great Easter Weekend without eating chocolate eggs and thinking about that hippy on the cross?
Answer: The Maidstone Tattoo Extravaganza.
Way back early last year I read in Total Tattoo magazine the announcement of what was to be a brand new tattoo convention in Kent. Very soon after I started to see adverts for the event popping up regularly on my Facebook feed. First thing I thought was the location isn’t that far for me to travel and the second thing I thought was ‘this guy’s keen’. I booked a booth and before I knew it 14th April 2017 had arrived.
When I work conventions I always feel more relaxed arriving the night before to set up and chat to a few other artists. Then my personal tradition consists of a couple of beers, a nice meal and a decent nights sleep in a local hotel. I’m glad I arrived early enough as I noticed the artists’ booths were missing the usual wooden table to be used as a workstation. Enter stage right the hero and heroine of the play- Zak Breakspear and Ileene of High Tide Tattoo in Whitstable who kindly mentioned they’d pop to their shop on the way to the convention the next day to lend me a spare table. Check their work out, they’re super friendly people – Zak specialises in Neo traditional and Ileen in cute and girly new school.
The Maidstone Tattoo Extravaganza was held at the Detling Showground which was about a ten minute drive out of the town centre. I arrived on the Saturday bright and early for the first day of the show. In no time at all it became very clear that the organisers Fraser and Sam had done a great job of promoting their event and all that advertising had paid off. Being a reasonably local convention I was lucky enough to have arranged a few clients to tattoo but all the same, I had no shortage of members of the public coming up to ask if I had time for walk ups.
So what did I tattoo? On the Saturday I freehanded a huge werewolf around an existing tattoo . I turned Stuart’s existing tattoo into a t-shirt worn by the werewolf. In the end we left that appointment at the black shade point so I’m excited to complete it with colour in a few weeks. I then squeezed in a little initial and heart walk up. On the Sunday I had the pleasure of more freehand work. This time doing two tattoos on Rose who sat like a rock. First was a tortoise/skull /volcano on her thigh which I entitled ‘ Drunk at The Escape Exit of The Circle of Life’ (yep, I’ve taken to naming some of my tattoos in the way a painter would name a painting) followed by a more traditional skull and roses design on her upper inner arm. Last up I knocked out ‘ACES HIGH’ on Gary’s lower knuckles. His seventh Iron Maiden tattoo I believe.
The sands of time for me were running low (to paraphrase an Iron Maiden lyric) and soon the clock struck 7pm as the show closed and our cab was waiting outside.
To summarise, this little first time convention ended up as one of the busiest small conventions I’ve worked at and we were informed that over 2000 people paid to enter on the Saturday alone. Needless to say, it will be back next year and so will I. Only next time I’m bringing chocolate eggs.