The sixth annual Arizona Tattoo Expo will feature more than 150 of the biggest names in the body art and piercing industry when it rolls into Mesa this weekend.
Jack Rudy and Bob Tyrell — two of the top five tattoo portrait artists in the world — and renowned body piercer/body modification artist Steve Haworth are among the artists who will sell on-site tattooing and piercing. Pricing will range from $50 for something small to $1,000 for a full day's work.
Other expo attractions will include music from DJ Fashen and Chino, more than 20 tattoo contests and an art gallery featuring work by tattoo artists.
Club Tattoo owner Sean Dowdell, who took over the expo this year with the help of friend Sage O'Connell, who runs Mesa's Urban Art Tattoo, says the event, which initially started in a smaller Phoenix venue, has expanded over the years.
‘‘We're expecting at least 10,000 to 12,000 people this year, which is a lot larger than it was last year,'' Dowdell says. ‘‘The first year it only had 25 vendor booths with only about 1,500 people through the door. Last year we had approximately 80 vendor booths with close to 6,000 people through the door.''
O'Connell, who is also a tattoo artist, says that he's noticed a couple of trends.
‘‘They're asking for a lot of lower back tattoos for women,'' he says. ‘‘The tribal thing is still very popular, as well as flowers. People are starting to want more stuff that fits the body better. They're really starting to listen to their tattoo artist a lot better. It used to be that people would come in and pick something off the wall and you'd just put that where they wanted.
‘‘They're doing more thinking now — ‘How does this fit my body and how does this work with me?' The difference between a good tattoo and a great tattoo is placement.''
Dowdell says portraits are really popular in his three East Valley shops, as well as custom work.
‘‘People are definitely more open about asking for specific things that they want,'' he says.
O'Connell warns first-time tattooers to do their research before getting a tattoo.
‘‘Look at the tattoo artists' portfolios,'' he says. ‘‘Find somebody that is tattooing a similar style that they're interested in getting tattooed.''
And don't settle, Dowdell adds.
‘‘Go around and look at the shops,'' he says. ‘‘Make sure you feel comfortable before you get it done. Don't trust just anybody.''
>>The Arizona Tattoo Expo runs 3 to 11 p.m. Friday, April 7; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, April 8; and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, April 9 at the Mesa Marriott,
200 N. Centennial Way. $15-$35. (480) 664-2103 or aztattooexpo.com.
CLUB TATTOO ANNIVERSARY PARTY
East Valley tattoo and piercing chain Club Tattoo celebrates its 11th anniversary at 6 p.m. April 22, at Acme Roadhouse, 855 S. Rural Road, Tempe. Pop-punk act Story of the Year will perform along with Linkin' Park's Chester Bennington and Mike Shionoda, b.o.w. (which features Club Tattoo owner Sean Dowdell and Orgy guitarist Ryan Shuck), The Dirtyheads, Wicked Wisdom and DJ Z-Trip. $15. (480) 902-0943 or clubtattoo.com.
ASU TATTOO EXHIBIT
‘‘Skin Deep: A Cultural History of Tattooing'' is on display at ASU's Museum of Anthropology through May 15. The exhibit includes contemporary and historical photographs, rare books, engravings, postcards, tattoo instruments and documentary exploring tattoos dating from 5,000 B.C. to the present and is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Free. (480) 965-6224 or asu.edu/clas/shesc/asuma