Whoa hey, so here’s some news! Coming this August is the inaugural Tattoo Hollywood convention, presented by BME. That’s us! Awesome, right? We’ve partnered with Bob Roberts’s World Famous Spotlight Tattoo, rounded up some of the best tattoo artists around and, for three days in August, will be playing host to a back-to-basics tattoo convention that we’re all pretty excited about.
The workhorse here, however, has been BME headmistress Rachel, who has been busting her ass and is far more qualified to speak on the subject than I am. So, on that note, take a look after the jump for a quick interview I did with the boss-lady, which should explain a bit more fully what this is all about.
BME: Whose idea was it to put together Tattoo Hollywood? Who’s been involved in organizing it?
Rachel Larratt: It was actually my idea. I’ve always wondered why there wasn’t a convention right in Los Angeles; there are several in the surrounding areas but nothing downtown and nothing in the Hollywood area ever since InkSlingers stopped hosting their convention. I started scouting out hotels and locations and figuring it out by which convention spaces had the best location, the best hotel associated with it and the right vibe so that the artists and attendees can have a really good time. That’s what a convention is for most artists: First and foremost, it’s a working vacation for them. I wanted to provide a space that allowed artists to be relaxed and comfortable and a safe environment to get an amazing tattoo for attendees.
So, like I said, I’ve been organizing it myself until recently when Norm from Spotlight Tattoo got involved. He’s done a great job helping me put together an impressive line up of some of the world’s best tattooers. We went back to the old school way of putting on a convention. Instead of it being a free for all, it’s an invite only convention for artists so everyone meets a minimum requirement of quality and professionalism with their art.
BME: What are some of your favorite conventions to which you’ve been? Did any inspire you while planning Tattoo Hollywood?
RL: I’ve probably only worked about 15 conventions over the past 11 years. I’ve attended several and have probably been speaking at or hosting a booth at more in the past two years than I have over the past decade. The conventions that I have gone to have been in Chicago, several in Texas, New York, Long Beach, Philadelphia, several in Europe as well as Canada. While I haven’t been able to attend a Hell City convention, I’ve heard they are some of the best out there.
After visiting the Philadelphia convention, I really felt like I wanted something in the town that I live in. Troy puts on a great convention; everyone has a good time and he really knows what he is doing. As far as L.A., it seems like driving an hour to go to a tattoo convention when you live in a major city is out of place. I wanted something right in the heart of L.A., which everyone knows is Hollywood, and I wanted to do it right.
BME: How much larger are you expecting the lineup of artists to get?
RL: We are planning for approximately 120 booths. We currently have the majority of them sold out but there should be about 200-plus artists attending. We wanted to keep it smaller as far as booths are concerned so that everyone is busy. We want the artists to be able to come out here, have a great time and keep occupied, because they can’t attend conventions without being able to work. When you cram too many artists into one space, there sometimes isn’t enough work to go around. As of right now, we have one of the most impressive lineups I have seen in a while, save for the major conventions. For our first year, I’m really happy with where we’re heading. It will only get better!
BME: You’ve mentioned that part of your motivation to put together this convention was to create an event that was focused solely on tattooing—why do you think conventions have become diluted with, as you said, an increasing focus on tangentially related interests (extreme sports, etc.)? Not that a convention necessarily needs a philosophy, but is there a particular one behind Tattoo Hollywood? What makes this convention different?
RL: I don’t feel that this convention is necessarily “different,” I’m just going back to the way things used to be done. While we do have The Lizardman booked to MC the event and handle contests (as well as perform his impressive side shows), I didn’t want to succumb to the ADD mindset where 600 things need to be going on at one time. A tattoo convention doesn’t need to have 45 bands playing to bring people out; half the time you end up seeing people who aren’t even interested in tattooing showing up for the event. I understand that other conventions do that because their convention is a business for them, but I don’t feel that tattooing should be an additional component—it should be the main attraction. Attendees should be coming to see the amazing artists from around the country and the world working. For most people it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get work done by an amazing artist who usually isn’t in their area. We’ll still have fun after-parties for the artists and attendees but, during the convention hours, it’s all about tattooing.
BME: That said, is this strictly a tattoo convention, or are you planning on having other activities (piercing, etc.) on the grounds?
RL: This is definitely something I want to address, as the question of, “Is this is a ‘body modification’ convention?” has been asked because it is BME’s convention. Due to restrictions with California Law, the only body modifications that will happen at the convention are tattooing and piercing. Scarification, implants, etc. are forbidden under California Law.
There will be a very select few piercers as well, because I don’t want to put too many piercers in one room and have it end up like a swap meet with people price shopping; that’s not what I want. At the Philadelphia convention, all of the piercers sat down as a group and agreed on a price list, and it made it so everyone was able to work without being undercut.
BME: Anything else we desperately need to know?
RL: What more could you need! But seriously, I’m thrilled to be working on a project like this, and I’ll do my best to keep everyone in the loop as more information about attending artists and after-parties and whatnot is ready. Here’s hoping we get to see lots of you there!
Passes: $20/day, $40/weekend, $100/VIP (includes access to VIP/artist parties, shorter access lines, etc.)
Where: The Grand BallRoom
Renaissance Hollywood Hotel
1755 N. Highland Ave.
Hollywood, CA 90028
Click on the link to book your discounted room rate online: Marriott.com
Rooms are $159/night. Please call 1-800-769-4774 to book your rooms over the phone. Our discount code is “Tattoo Hollywood”. Reservations by attendees must be received on or before Thursday, August 13, 2009 to guarantee your discounted rate. Please remember that it is important to book your rooms at the host hotel so that we may continue to offer great rates for attendees.
For more information, visit TattooHollywood.com!