Heather is a 20-something cat-lady with a love of knitting, opera, and body modification. She's slowly working on traveling the world.
7 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Got My Tattoo at a Convention
If you're planning on attending a tattoo convention, chances are you're hoping to pick up some new ink as a souvenir. Here are 7 things I wish I knew before getting tattooed at a convention.
- It's Loud!
- Bring Cash
- Wear Comfortable Clothing
- The Adrenaline Wears Off!
- Everyone Will Want to Talk to You
- Bring Snacks
- Book Ahead
1. It's Loud!
I knew that with so many people and so many tattoo machines it wasn't exactly going to be quiet, but I had underestimated just how loud it was going to be. You can't get up to find a quiet corner, and after 3 or 4 hours the noise gets overwhelming. Bring headphones or earplugs so you can get some respite.
2. Bring Cash
Yes, there will be ATMs there. The catch is that these ATMs are privately owned and have exorbitant fees, a small transaction limit, and huge queues. You're also likely to be the unlucky person who has the ATM run out of cash right when you're next in line. Set yourself a budget for the day and get your cash out in advance.
3. Wear Comfortable Clothing
Probably a bit of a no-brainer, but consider where you want to get tattooed and choose your clothing appropriately. You're going to have no privacy at a tattoo convention, so if you're being tattooed somewhere that requires you to remove clothing, make sure you're not going to be accidentally flashing the world! Keep in mind that most tattoo conventions are child-friendly spaces.
4. The Adrenaline Wears Off!
You might feel really great while getting your tattoo done and excited to see the rest of the convention afterward. If you're anything like me, though, about half an hour after your tattoo is done, the pain and tiredness are going to hit, and all you'll want is a nap. Luckily, most conventions run over several days, so plan to see everything else on a day you're not getting inked.
5. Everyone Will Want to Talk to You
When getting inked at a convention, you're basically a public display of art. Strangers are going to want to talk to you. Be prepared for lots of comments on how the tattoo is coming along, but also lots of other conversation. I had at least 4 strangers comment on how I seemed to be the smiliest person getting a tattoo there! Having never been tattooed in public before, I didn't realise that I don't have a typical "tattoo face." If you're self-conscious, you may not enjoy all the extra attention.
6. Bring Snacks
Yes, the convention might have a ton of really great food trucks, but the lines are going to be huge. Make sure you've eaten before you start on your tattoo and have an emergency snack for during or after. Being hungry is no fun in general, but it's less fun when you're being tattooed. If you know you tend to get a little light-headed when getting tattooed, make sure you have something sweet you can eat after—chocolate to the rescue.
7. Book Ahead
If you have an artist you particularly want to be tattooed by, see if you're able to book ahead or get to the convention early. I can't tell you how many people my artist had to turn down because he didn't have time to fit them in. The artist lineup for most conventions is announced a few weeks in advance, and artists will usually reserve you a time if you pay a deposit.
If you're unable to secure a time, get there early and ask. Cancellations happen, so you might just get lucky. Artists usually have a few things drawn up that they're dying to tattoo, so they might also be willing to make time for you if you're willing to give them some artistic freedom.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2017 Heather
Alex on January 05, 2019:
It probably depends on the specific convention, but the one in Baltimore is very hot. The two times I got tattooed there that's all I could concentrate on.
Swerve Phillips on October 19, 2018:
Tattoo conventions totally rock. When walking through a tattoo parlour, I actually listen to see if it reminds me of a tattoo convention. I love the sound of art in action. Yes, get to the convention early. You might be able to get an impulse tattoo free-handed by a master. Laid out on the table, I wasn't sure if I was passing out from the pain or if I was falling asleep. It didn't matter. I was making memories. Permanent memories. Also, think about your impulse tattoo design very carefully, very carefully, then go for it!
John Goner on May 02, 2018:
Thanks! I'm about to get my first. Have design and just found out about convention as I'm starting vacation. Thought it'd be a good place to find an artist i like. Seemed like fate. But i would not want to be public display and noise does get to me. Guess I'll keep looking.