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Notes from Hell: May 2010 Hell City Tattoo Festival Summary

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Notes from Hell: May 2010 Hell City Tattoo Festival Summary

Hell City Tattoo Festival Mascots

Tattoo conventions are a great way to explore a variety of tattoo art, because each one hosts a large number of artists from around the country (or sometimes even the world) and each one offers their own unique style. But a truly successful tattoo show offers much more than just tattoo artist booths and clothing vendors; it doesn’t take long to take a lap around a room full of vendors. This is where the Hell City Tattoo Fest stands apart from many other shows, because it’s more like a 3-ring circus: always several things going on at once to keep everyone interested and entertained the whole weekend long. Last month, my husband and I attended the Hell City Tattoo Festival in Columbus, Ohio for our third time running, and still find it just as engaging as the first.

Meat and Potatoes
Of course, the tattoo artist booths are still the “meat and potatoes” of any tattoo show, and this is also where Hell City excels, bringing in some of the best talent from around the globe. I don’t think there was a single tattooer there who I would consider mediocre. And the variety of styles and techniques offered by the attending artists was a wonderful medley, sure to satisfy just about any collector’s preference. There was “Krooked” Ken (Black Anchor) busily inking his signature Coleman (vintage) style tattoos, Mike DeVries (MD Tattoo slamming out his sickest works in realism, Joe Capobianco (Hope Gallery) turning plain skin into sexy pinups, and Lucy Hu (My Tattoo) creating some of the most detailed and delicate works of fine art, to mention only a few. But not all the artists are big names or well known – not yet, anyway. But the exposure these world-class artists get at a show like this is exactly how some of the most renowned artists got recognized in the first place. The daily tattoo competitions also brings attention to some of these great artists, some of whom will have quite a collection of trophies displayed at their booth by the end of the weekend.

Special Entertainment
But as I said, Hell City offers a lot more than just artist booths. The Columbus show, which takes place at the downtown Hyatt, occupies two floors and several rooms on each floor for all of the events that take place: the Sinema, The Special Events room, seminar rooms, the Fine Arts display room, Heck City for the kids (pic), and of course, the main ballroom (on the third floor) where most of the artist booths are set up and the main events take place. All weekend long, they run several sessions of The Art Fusion Experiment and also offer some kind of special entertainment each evening. This time they hosted a fantastic local music band, The Aesthetics, (pic) who entertained the crowd with their premium blend of SKA and rock, spiked with the warmth of various wind instruments. It was honestly one of the best bands that Hell City has ever featured; I didn’t want the performance to end, and I really hope they return. Other entertainment that weekend included music by the Cadaver Dogs (I missed their performance, but they sound great!) , and the Cut Throat Freak Show.

In addition to the main stage performances, there was the on-going Art Fusion Experiment, which draws large crowds and is still one of my personal favorites. Added to that, they had a huge release party for some great new publications, including Pint Size Paintings, a full-color book with over 200 pages of amazing paintings in miniature. Another book that was released was Mike DeVries’ latest publication, Tattoo Prodigies, which features some of the most amazing tattoo artwork ever created. Then, to top it all off, Proton Press also announced the release of their new music label which was accompanied by live performances by their first group of sign-ons.

Can't Get Enough
The only problem with a 3-ring circus is that sometimes you miss the stuff that’s going on in the other two while you’re focusing on one. But, that’s the beauty of Hell City because year after year, you can pick and choose your own itinerary, so it’s never the same show twice, but the best performances are almost always repeated. Some attendees were disappointed that this year’s show didn't include Innerstate, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see it return. Either way, every Hell City weekend is chock full of visual and audio experiences that stick with you long after you’ve returned home, and it keeps me going back again and again. Don’t miss the next Hell City “Tattoo Vacation”, which is in beautiful Phoenix, AZ, this August 27-29 at the Biltmore Resort & Spa. Let it Burn!

Want to see more pictures from the show? Check out the Hell City Tattoo Gallery.

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