A rockabilly Valentine: Get inked
Tattoos have come a long way from ink on sailors, prisoners and gang members. In the last decade, the tattoo industry has experienced an explosion of growth with now more than 40 percent of 26- to 40-year-olds having at least one tattoo. This growth can be attributed to the increased accessibility of tattoos and transparency of the tattooing process through reality TV shows like “Miami Ink,” “Ink Masters” and “Tattoos After Dark.” These shows gave people an inside look at the world of tattooing and helped the industry go from exotic to mainstream.
People get tattoos for all sorts of reasons: to challenge social values, to rebel against society, to express personal identity, to symbolize love, or because ink is trendy and fashionable. Whatever your motivation to get inked, here are the hottest shops to go to, the most famous conventions to attend, how to find the best artist and more!
Tattoo conventions take place throughout the year, typically in big cities. They’re designed for tattoo artists, tattoo enthusiasts and anyone who wants to see the world of tattooing up close. Conventions programs often include contests, exhibitions, merchandise, workshops, social events and even opportunities to get inked!
The London International Tattoo Convention is one of the most prestigious for tattoo artists to get invited to — it can be likened to a novelist winning the Pulitzer Prize. This convention hosts 200 of the most renowned artists in the world. The event also features art exhibitions, burlesque performers and an anthropological exhibition on the history of tattooing.www.tattoo-convention.de
The Berlin Tattoo Convention is the biggest and most prestigious in Germany. The program includes live music, tattoo and piercing seminars, tattoo contests and the crowning of a Tattoo Queen.
Famous shops in Europe
Europe is home to some of the most famed tattoo shops in the world. Check out one of these shops on your next vacation to get some new ink!
Amsterdam, NL - Tattoo Peter This historic shop focuses on classic tattoos that include tributes to the days when sailors came to the shop looking for designs of ships, anchors and pinup girls.
Berlin, DE - AKA This shop’s main priority is tattooing, but AKA artists are also involved in a collaborative art project with display space for art exhibitions and galleries.
Paris, FR - Tin Tin Tatouages Tin Tin has been tattooing for decades, and opened his famous shop in Montmartre in 1999. His works can be seen in GQ, Elle, ads for Givenchy, and on celebrities. He taught himself how to tattoo during his military service in Berlin and has since traveled the world to study under the best artists.
Sainte-Croix, CH - The Leu Family’s Family Iron This shop boasts a family of bohemian artists who have traveled the world tattooing, now settled in Switzerland. This shop is known for powerful Japanese body suits and back pieces.
Choosing a tattoo shop and artist
If you’re thinking of getting a tattoo in Europe, consider these important factors:
- Make sure the shop is nice and clean in appearance. It’s important that the shop is organized, and all their certifications and licenses are displayed.
- Make sure that the shop has good customer service. You’re getting something permanent; it’s important that you get along with the artists and they understand your vision.
- Ask friends for recommendations on a shop; first-hand experiences are best.
- Research artists who tattoo in the style you’re interested in, and look at artist profiles to find an artist and shop that fits your needs and style.
Chat with a local German tattoo artist
Stripes recently sat down with Graeme, a local tattoo artist at Dave’s Tattoos in Kaiserslautern, to discuss tattoo culture, conventions and his favorite tattooing style.
How would you describe the tattoo culture in Kaiserslautern?
The tattoo culture in Kaiserslautern is a lot more advanced than other local towns and cities because of the high number of Americans living here — it’s definitely influenced by the military population. We have studios in other rural German towns and the customers seem to be a little more behind what’s trending in major U.S. and European cities.
What about Germany in general?
There is still somewhat of a stigma attached to tattoos, but Germans are somewhat advanced in their acceptance of tattoos, although it depends on what part of Germany (city vs small village) and also what circumstances. I would be more hesitant to show my tattoos in an important meeting or to a landlord.
What’s your favorite style to tattoo in?
I am a definite old school new American guy. I love the big bright colors and bold outlines. I think that some people that get the “trendy” tattoos end up getting them covered up when they go out of style. The old school classic designs will never go out of style.
Who is getting tattoos?
I agree that tattoo reality shows have really helped the industry. I have found that more women are getting tattoos — although they typically get something smaller and delicate. In the Kaiserslautern shop, I see half men and half women.
Do you go to tattoo conventions?
I used to go to a lot of the conventions — as they’re a great place to meet and hire new artists and see new products in the industry. Now, I only frequent the tattoo convention in Frankfurt since we have a second shop there and many of our artists are featured.