Tattoo artists from across the country and around the world will join local tattoo artists in offering their inking services to Sacramento for the eighth year in a row at the annual All American Tattoo Festival this weekend. The festival begins Friday and will continue through Sunday at the Sacramento Convention Center.
The festival is organized in a joint effort between local promoter Alan Mahon and the owners of Sacramento’s Forever Tattoo. Attendees can view over 100 art pieces, submissions of mainly paintings and drawings from the artists that won’t include tattoo designs, on any of the three days of the festival, in addition to getting tattooed by world-renowned artists.
“Fifty to 60 percent of tattoo artists should not be tattooing anybody,” Mahon said. He explained that the festival provides tattoo-goers the opportunity to get a “better than average tattoo” by expert artists they normally don’t have access to, since many of them are overbooked or live in other parts of the country or the world.
Contests will be held each day for best tattoo pieces, in addition to special appearances by renowned sideshow art performer George the Giant. The festival will also host the worldwide debut of Shige, a book based on the life and work of world-renowned Japanese tattoo artist Shigenorii Wasaki. Both Wasaki and Horitaka, the author, will be tattooing at this year’s festival.
Artists from local tattoo shops like American Graffiti, Modern Body Custom Tattoo, Monster Ink, Legacy and River City Tattoo will be stationed at the festival, in addition to the artists from Forever Tattoo.
Anyone wanting to get inked by unfamiliar or foreign artists can choose from a wide selection of tattooers from the West Coast, Texas, Missouri, Florida, New York, Japan, Germany, Spain and Italy.
Brent Patten, an organizer of the festival and co-owner of Forever Tattoo, pointed out that the festival offers more options than just needles. Attendees can get tattooed with the Japanese hand-painted method Tebori using a brass wand, or with a Tahitian method using a "tapping" stick.
"You get to see all these people from all around the world," Patten said. "You read about them in books, [and to] maybe get tattooed by them is really cool."
For several local artists, participating in this year’s festival will be a first-time experience.
Steve Shippey, who has been tattooing for five years and specializes in horror realism, portrait and cartoon-inspired pieces, will tattoo for the first time at the festival along with Ronnie Grizard, on behalf of Sacramento’s Modern Body.
Ten-year tattoo artist Tuan Tran will also participate for the first time on behalf of Monster Ink, a newer two-and-a-half-year old tattoo shop in Sacramento. Tran specializes in Japanese-style tattoos, along with realism and demon-inspired pieces.
Both Shippey and Tran expressed their excitement about the festival and an opportunity to meet other artists from around the world.
If there’s anything to not look forward to, it’s bargain hunters.
"Sometimes you get people who think that they can walk out with $20 in their pocket and get a three-hour piece for next to nothing," Shippey said.
For more information about tickets, schedule times, the artists and parking, visit this link.
Author’s note: All photos courtesy of All American Tattoo festival.