Artwork and photo by Josh Carlton.


Inked Hearts returns for four days of fun.

There’s only one place to find fresh hot ink, hot wings, hot girls, hot guys and beautiful bulldogs under one roof this February.

The Inked Hearts 2018 expo returns for its ninth year on Feb. 1-4 at the Sapphire Palace and Kinetic Lounge at the Blue Lake Casino and Hotel. Ted and Amy Marks of NorCal Tattoo in Arcata are hosts of the renowned annual expo that will feature more than 30 famous artists.

Inked Hearts is Amy Marks’ favorite opportunity to learn from other tattoo artists and reunite with the Inked Hearts family. Marks said this expo gives her the opportunity to bring amazing artists together and into the community.

“It’s so fun to watch and learn from other artists with so many different styles,” Marks said. “I get excited to see the artists again and it’s like a tattoo family reunion. A lot of the artist say it’s their favorite convention.”

Inked Hearts 2018 promises more than fun for tattoo artists and enthusiasts. The expo will also present a Wings of Death hot wing eating contest hosted by Humboldt Hot Sauce, a Super Bully Bowl Beauty Pageant and a Hot Girl/Hot Guy contest as part of the four-day festivities.

Marks said this year’s expo was put together with the help of a new events coordinator at Blue Lake Casino. The result is entertainment for all to enjoy instead of just tattoo enthusiasts.

Professional tattoo artist of 28 years from Eugene, Oregon, Joshua Carlton, is returning for his fourth Inked Hearts expo. He said attending is always a blast and the Marks’ put on a great show.

“I have been to literally hundreds of shows all around the world,” Carlton said. “It’s just the right amount of size and charm.”

First up for entertainment is the Hot Girl and Hot Guy contest on Feb. 2 at 6 p.m. Contestants must sign up with a $10 entry fee to be eligible, but do not necessarily need tattoos. Winners receive a $500 cash prize.

Featured for the first time will be the Wings of Death hot wing eating contest on Feb. 3 from noon to 1 p.m. Marks said Humboldt Hot Sauce has been playing with their sauce and the recipe contains Carolina Reaper peppers and more.

“It’s our first time doing the hot wing eating contest,” Marks said. “It’s gonna be hot, crazy hot.”

Also a first for the expo, the Super Bully Bowl Pageant on Feb. 4 from noon to 1 p.m. is open to all who want to sign up their English or French bulldogs for “butt wiggle walks” and more. Spots are limited and there were only five remaining as of Jan. 26.

More than 30 famous artists from places such as Hawaii, Australia and Italy will be in attendance for onsite tattoos. Marks said some of these artists are typically booked for almost two years at a time at their shops. The convention allows the opportunity for people to come in and get tatted by famous artists on the spot.

Carlton said he tries to keep his tattooing limited to one per day so he can focus on doing his best work.

“I do highly detailed realistic work, so each piece takes several hours,” Carlton said.

According to the Inked Hearts Facebook event page, the first 200 guests on Feb. 2 will receive a free pair of steampunk goggles while supplies last.

Marks said the experience has something for everyone and anyone interested in tattoos can get a closer look.

“We are there to tattoo and pierce and there’s tons of entertainment fun for everyone,” Marks said.

Tickets for the expo can be purchased online or on the Inked Hearts website. Presale tickets are $30 for all events and $10 per day, plus fees. Online fees can be avoided by paying at the Players Club in Blue Lake Casino or at Wildberries Marketplace. Some events are subject to an entry fee to participate.

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