May 16, 2018
Tattoo enthusiasts, admirers of alternative pastimes and seekers of good times, we have exciting news for you. Not only is The Great British Tattoo Show back, but we will be part of it!
Between the 26th and 27th May you’ll find us at the historic Alexandra Palace joined by not only over 300 world class tattoo artists but also by the most eclectic and eccentric traders around.
Brought to you by the UK’s top tattoo magazine SkinDeep, we decided to have a chat with its editor Sion Smith, one of the people behind the tattoo world’s top events.
At the time, we had two very well established shows (Tattoo Jam and Tattoo Freeze) and felt like we still had 'more' to give. Translating what we had been doing at those shows to London was not as easy as it sounds though. The first show we held was in Earls Court but the venue simply wasn't suitable - good lighting is an absolute must at a tattoo show and it didn't have it. Once we made the move to Alexandra Palace... well, it was practically built for tattooing. It's wonderful and feels very much like home these days. There's nowhere else I would rather host the show, thats for sure. One of the big things for us there is the size of the venue... nobody wants to work in a tiny space and Alexandra Palace is large enough to give tattooers plenty of room to manoeuvre and also let the traffic move freely. After all these years, hopefully there's not much we haven't thought about to make it the best show we possibly can.
I come from a background of rock music so tattoos came with the territory for me. Paul Booth was the name on everybody's lips back then and I still love his work. As luck would have it, I'm also quite handy with a pen so to cut a (very long) story short, he was the first tattoo artist I interviewed back in 2003 and I guess you could say I straddled the two worlds for a while. One day, during a chance conversation about something else, I was asked if I wanted to take over the editor's role at Skin Deep - I snapped that hand off and made a necklace out of it.
Yesterday I signed off on issue 289 which marks my hundredth issue of the magazine across eight and a half years. I've judged at over 50 conventions around the world and without taking anything for granted, I suspect I'm doing OK out there and I still love what I do - who couldn't love running a tattoo magazine?
Our numbers sit at around 3,500 visitors a day so it's always very busy out there and this year we have over 300 artists working which is (I think) the biggest number of artists we have ever had at the show.
If you're not getting tattooed, there are two days of quality entertainment scheduled in. We've had people get married on stage complete with tattooed wedding bands, wrestling, alternative fashion shows, stand-up comics, unplugged/acoustic artists, burlesque dancers and 'special guests' tend to drop by unannounced too. When your friend is being tattooed for five hours, it can be a long old wait so we do our best to make sure everybody is happy.
Mostly however, you're going to see a lot of great tattoos both old and new. It's what we do best. The website is a good place to start to see what's going on - even though we're just weeks away now, the entertainment list is always evolving and while you're there you can also see what tattoo artists will be working.
That's a tough question because no two years have ever been the same. On a personal level, I'll be judging competition entries on both days, getting myself tattooed at some point and getting to Sunday evening without having spilled coffee on myself and still have my brain intact. For the show, we just love seeing everybody busy and everybody happy - you can't ask for more than that but it does take some 'administration' along the way. You have to be equally prepared to answer a question from a visitor, source a different kind of chair for a client or be interviewed by TV crews and press who may/may not show up.
Which is a long way of saying, it 'blurs' but without fail, it's always great fun. Which is after all, the whole point.
Always! Issue 300 is not so far away now, so that's definitely on the radar. I guess I had better start making some plans for it. I'll get back on the road again soon too after grounding myself for a few months. There are so many great tattoo shows around the world right now, it's exhausting getting to as many of them as possible but we try because there's no other way of getting a birds eye view of what's going on - looking at a tattoo on a four inch phone screen is NOT the same as seeing it in the flesh.
I also have some plans to hook the magazine up with a great international charity to see what art projects we can create together to help put the planet back together but that's in the pipeline and probably best not discussed in public just yet.
Company-wise, after the Great British Tattoo Show, we'll take stock of where we go next with our tattoo shows in 2019 - it sounds far away but we're already nearly half way through the year. It will be here soon enough. As I write this, I heard talk of a meeting to be had in the next few weeks to talk about Tattoo Freeze - that puts us squarely in 2019 from that point.
Meanwhile, down at the personal level, I have other things that keep me busy - a dog, books and songs to write, that kind of thing - that said, running a tattoo magazine of this size takes vast amounts of attention... and I don't think I'd have it any other way.
_______________________________________________________________How does two full days of tattoo, music, eccentric shows and tasty food sounds like? Well if you think that's something for you we are holding a special give away of five pairs of weekend tickets for The Great British Tattoo Show! Just keep an eye on our socials over the coming days.We will not come empty handed either, and will be bringing our No. 253 Memento Mori Special Edition watch.
Memento Mori was not only a recurrent theme in Victorian art and jewellery but still is an enduring motif in modern tattoo art. And by no means is this a morose theme, but on the contrary a celebration of life itself, because to remember you must die it’s to remember you must live. So join us for a promising Spring weekend at The Great British Tattoo Show to celebrate not only the beauty of the tattoo world but the beauty of life itself.
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Behind-the-scenes content and design inspiration from the founders of The Camden Watch Company.From Camden with love.