Tattoo Jam: What Really Happened.
Last weekend’s Tattoo Jam convention has really stirred up a lot of talk. Some people liked it, many hated it. There were rumours and criticisms aplenty, to the point where I myself stopped listening to them for want of a peaceful weekend! To put you out of your misery, here is a guest post from our own Loz, who tells you, in all honesty and without prejudice, what really happened at ‘The Jam”…
We arrived at Doncaster Racecourse a little after 12, and could see the long queue to purchase tickets. Fortunately we had already bought ours, so we didn’t have to wait very long to get in. We walked into the convention and wandered around to get our bearings. I must say, I didn’t really think much to the venue, it all seemed a bit higgledy-piggledy, and there were a good selection of shop stalls, with some gorgeous clothes and jewellery for sale.
After walking around the main hall and inspecting the tattooists on show, and getting halfway down an aisle before having to turn around because it was trade only. Honestly half an aisle of trade only. I could have pointed out several other areas of the convention where this would have been better placed. Anyway, after this we went back towards the entrance, the long queue had disappeared and there was hardly anyone walking in at this point, which surprised me as it was only 1.15pm.
We headed upstairs to inspect the gallery on the second floor. I loved the range of art on show, paintings, beaded art. They were all stunning in their own unique way. After spending some time admiring the work on show, we headed up to the third floor, where there were some more artists. We stood and watched as a hand tool tattoo was taking shape. I am always fascinated to watch traditional tattoos being done.
We headed back downstairs to have something to eat. We had brought our own food and despite the security at the door telling everyone that no food was allowed, we still took it through, but I’ll come back to that later. It was a little before 2pm and a loud blaring voice came over the tannoy ordering all tattooists to have their stencils ready and to make sure they were tattooing at 2pm. It was quite apparent that some artists were not very happy with being ordered about in this fashion.
We headed outside for a bit of quiet whilst we ate… well, quiet for about 5 minutes. The battle of the bands started whilst we were outside. The sound system did not sound professionally set up: it was tinny and echoey to say the least! However we ate up and enjoyed the cold air whilst trying to ignore the noise beside us.
We begrudgingly headed back inside- this was not because we had had enough, no. This was because it was too damn hot. The Racecourse appeared to have air conditioning, but it was never used. Some of the artists had taken to opening the doors and I really couldn’t blame them. We actually walked past a young woman who was lying on the floor dripping with sweat with Paramedics seeing to her. The heat was so much more unbearable as the security would not allow any food or drink on the main floor. I actually heard from someone that one tattooist, who was there on his own, was told off for having a biscuit in his booth. I also witnessed an angry woman apologising to a male artist as she had been able to bring his unopened drink down but security would not let her bring his food. He too was on his own and ended up leaving his booth to sort it out.
This was only my second convention; my first was to Tattoo Freeze earlier this year. Now despite the lacking of artists, Tattoo Freeze was a very good show, so many things to turn your attention to. Tattoo Jam did not have this show element; it had the sterile feel of a corporate event. It didn’t help that some big name artists, who I had been looking forward to seeing, were not there. Booths were stretched out I presume to mask the empty spaces. There were also some artists that were quite obviously an afterthought. Their work was not up to a brilliant standard and I feel that this let down so many of the good quality artists there.
I was also dismayed to see Tattoo Freeze being advertised as a two-day event. It was only supposed to be a one-day event, something different to all the other conventions. Now it will be just another convention, I mean it’s not as if we have enough of them is it?
I noticed quite a few artists/studios had Tattoo TV business cards on the table. One even had a Tattoo TV banner up, but I did notice later in the day that it had been taken down. I don’t know if the artist themselves chose to take it down or whether they were told to.
I met some fantastic people over the weekend, the tattoo TV crowd are certainly welcoming, I just felt so let down by the organisers of tattoo jam. The convention had a rushed feeling about it, it wasn’t very well organised and certainly did not live up to expectations. I felt my money would have been better spent elsewhere.
I know my opinion of the event may differ to others, but I do know that a lot of people feel the same way that I do. I need to stress that my views are based on the convention only; I have not used recent events against the convention. Despite everything that had gone on, I still believed that Tattoo Jam could be a fantastic show and that the organisers could redeem themselves.
I have not commented on the evening part of Tattoo Jam as I did not hang around this long, I got bored a long time before the evening entertainment kicked in.
One thing is for sure, next year, I’m going to stay at home.