Once upon a time those inside Manchester Central would have found themselves surrounded by the sights and sounds of steam engines and the hustle and bustle of travellers. However, on August 4th and 5th the venue – formerly known as the GMEX before returning to its original name in more recent years – was instead literally buzzing as tattooists worked their magic on a number of paying attendees at the 11th installment of the Manchester International Tattoo Show.
Standard priced tickets were £20 for a day or £30 for the full weekend, although concessions were also on offer.Value for money was ensured by the fact that artists appearing at the event came from across the UK and far beyond, with a range of styles on offer from traditional to portraits to oriental. The organisers made the most of the space available to them inside the convention centre, with a larger than ever square footage being used.
Of course, many of the attendees will have taken the opportunity to do their research on the artists working over the course of the two days and booked in with them to. Some of the more high profile names in attendance, such as Lou Molloy – famed for his work on David Beckham – or Modern Body Art’s Jo Harrison, will have found themselves with busy schedules therefore making it unlikely that a person could stroll up and get tattooed by them the same day.
This wasn’t too much of an issue as half the fun is in seeing what other people are getting done and browsing through portfolios for a little inspiration. However, for those who found themselves unable to resist getting a permanent memento of the day there were plenty of artists with free slots, something they could make known thanks to handy signs placed on their tables.
Live entertainment also formed part of the show with acts such as Beyond The State and Jemma Krysa offering musical interludes. There was a bar area too, offering a little space to take a break, an especially valuable addition as for those looking to make the most of the convention the action ran from 11am to 11pm on Saturday and from 11am to 7pm the following day. A selection of stalls were also available to browse, offering everything from clothing to hot sauce, with the latter outlet offering a selection of spicy treats that were too good to resist.
So I didn’t end up with any new tattoos but I did end up with a new condiment to take home. However, I also left with some fresh ideas about the kind of work I want done and a few names whose work I will definitely be taking a second look at. Some of the individuals that particularly caught my eye included the Portuguese Paulinho da Butcher and Rachel Baldwin of Modern Body Art in Birmingham, who each showcased portfolios featuring a range of colourful designs with a traditional feel to them.
But as you would expect impressive work was easily found and the organisers offered a range of awards honouring some of the best. Honours were given for categories including Portrait, Oriental, Colour and Black and Grey. Hammersmith Tattoo’s Uldis Paulins would likely have particularly enjoyed his weekend as he picked up the gong for Best of Saturday and Best of Show.
All in all the convention offered plenty to keep even mildly curious punters entertained and is one event that will likely be well worth adding to your diary in 2013.