By Jill Diver
Art on a wall, you can change. Art on your body? Not so much.
It’s permanent. It’s noticeable. And it’s something you will have for a very long time, unless you are willing to spend a lot of money and go through a lot of pain.
Tattoos are serious business, and New Hampshire is about to host a festival that brings that into sharp focus.
Called the Live Free or Die Tattoo Expo 2010, the show will feature 300 different tattoo artists from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, Pennsylvania, New York and Canada.
“Everybody has a favorite tattoo artist and if you don’t, you can look through the portfolios at the artist booths,” said Jon Thomas, one of the organizers of the expo and owner of Spider-Bite in Manchester. “There will be live tattooing and you can just walk around and find (a tattoo artist) who is open.”
For the person who doesn’t know much about tattooing, Thomas explains, “there is old school work, like pinup girls, more cartoonish, and less color and the new school is like realism, with lots more color.”
While tattoos used to be just for men, sailors and rockers, the women of the world have started to embrace tattoos.
“More women are getting tattoos because artists’ artwork is cleaner and nicer today,” said Thomas.
Tattooing has always been around; first, in underground form and then brought to the mainstream by its popularity. According to the Pew Research Center, 38 percent of Millennials, Americans ages 18 to 29, are tattooed and 23 percent are pierced.
“Strictly speaking, in the American vain, the current generation has embraced tattooing as a form of expression,” said Inked magazine Editor Rocky Rakovic in an e-mail interview. “We are in a healthy non-repressed time where the individual is celebrated. Now being different, being individualistic is a strong trait when before in a fear-based climate standing out made a person weird, made them a pariah.”
Even if getting a tattoo is not the plan for the day at the expo, those who visit the tattoo fest can watch live tattooing, check out tattoo contests, military pinup contests, sideshows and live music from Prospect Hill and Believer, an Ozzy tribute band.
“This expo is open to anybody,” said Thomas. “We get a lot of college people and every style of person really.”
Whether you are getting a tattoo or admiring an artists work, the expo is bound to be a unique and even education experience.
“Tattoos are mainstream now, there are more people with tattoos in America than there are blondes in the population,” Rakovic, whose magazine is considered the bible of the tattooing industry.
IF YOU GO
What: Live Free or Die Tattoo Expo 2010
When: July 23 to 25; Friday, July 23, 5 p.m. to midnight; Saturday, July 24, 10 a.m. to midnight; Sunday, July 25, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: Radisson Hotel, 700 Elm St., Manchester.
How: Tickets $15 at the door or online. Under 16 admitted free. For more information call 413-5318 or visit livefreeordietattoo.com.
This story ran in the Eagle-Tribune Newspaper Sunday, July 18, 2010