The hum of tattoo guns buzzing in unison, human canvases waiting to get ink, and tattoo lovers browsing through binders full of artwork. Add stale casino smoke to that and you have a tattoo expo.
The eighth annual Inked Hearts Tattoo Expo was held this past weekend at the Sapphire Palace in Blue Lake Casino. This four-day event began on Feb. 2 and featured tattoo artists from all around the area.
Ted and Amy Marks of NorCal Tattoo host the convention which features pinup contests, tattoo contests, live entertainment, and more.
Local tattoo artist, James Kerr from NorCal Tattoo, was one of the many people in attendance.
“I met my mentor about 11 years ago, this guy named Otto who owned a shop named Ink Addiction in Eureka,” Kerr said. “After my apprenticeship, my mentor moved back to southern California and sold me the shop. I went from apprentice to owner overnight.”
Inside the expo, people filtered through the crowded rows checking out the newest tattooing technology, artist merchandise, and artwork on display.
Joe Elliot, owner of Tattoo Joe’s in Vacaville, Calif., was another tattoo artist present at this year’s expo.
“I started tattooing almost eight years ago, but I’ve been drawing and painting since I was a kid,” Elliot said. “I’m tattooing this weekend, but I also have some of my sharpie art with me. To practice I paint on watercolor paper, using just sharpies.”
Anything from a small arm tattoo, to a full-on chest or back piece, could be done at the Inked Hearts Tattoo Expo. The convention brought together world class artist together make possible these lifelong ink memories.
Lucas Eagleton is originally from Denton, Texas, and he has been tattooing professionally since 2012. He is currently working at Artful Dodger Tattoo in Seattle, Washington.
“I went to art school prior to tattooing; I began with just print,” Eagleton said. “I had a friend who was a piercer and she asked me if I’d be interested in tattooing and I just took the chance. Now here we are here.”
Tattoos have been around for thousands of years and have a vast list of meanings. For some people with tattoos, it’s religion, for others it’s simply art.
“It’s okay if you don’t like my tattoos,” Kerr said. “They don’t like you either.”