Tattoo culture has been on the rise for at least the last two decades. Gone are the days when the art form was strictly associated with sailors, prisoners and the occasional biker, in 2017 tattoo culture is big business. From rock stars to athletes to accountants the world of tattoos has permeated modern culture in a way most would not have predicted.
One of the biggest signs of the popularity of this formerly shunned art form is the increase in the number of tattoo festivals and conventions that seem to pop up everywhere you turn. One of the longest running is the Atlantic City Tattoo Expo which comes to Bally’s Atlantic City Nov. 3 through 5.
The Atlantic City Tattoo Expo is now in its 14th year. Created by Jon Henderson — the head honcho over at Good Time Tricycle Productions — the event showcases some of the most highly respected artists from around the world, as well as live entertainment, contests, novelty vendors, arcade games and more.
One of the fun features of the Expo is the ability for attendees to not only meet some reality TV stars, but to actually get tattooed by them, as a variety of stars from shows like “Tattoo Nightmares” and “Ink Master” will be on hand to do just that.
One of those stars is Sarah Miller, a tattoo artist out of Pittsburgh, PA. who has appeared on several seasons of Spike TV’s “Ink Master,” including being the runner up on season 2.
Miller sees the value in events such as the Atlantic City Tattoo Expo. While it’s true that local tattoo shops may not be hard to find, expos offer more than you might imagine.
“Expos are on another level,” says Miller. “I think of them as a grab bag of some of the best artists from around the world.”
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In addition to having their work on display for all attendees to sneak a peek at, putting this many world renowned artists all in the same space presents a unique opportunity for those who may be interested in getting some ink done. “These artists are normally booked at least a year out — even myself— but when they go to different shows it’s an opportunity for people to collect a piece of art that they might not otherwise have been able to get.” Miller says.
While she currently enjoys semi-celebrity status and is one of the most well-respected tattoo artists in the world, Miller had to pay her dues just like everybody else.
“I’ve been tattooing for 12 years. I did an apprenticeship when I was a sophomore in college. I have always loved art and as soon as I started tattooing it just felt right. But I didn’t seriously start tattooing as a professional until my graphic design job kind of tanked in 2008 with the job market. It went from being able to pay the bills to traveling and competing and being on an international TV show and owning my own shop.”
Scared of the pain? Here are 4 spots that will hurt the most:
1. Feet: Notice how you don’t have much fat on your feet? That means any tattoo you get done here is going to consist of the needle tapping right into the bone. An incredibly unpleasant sensation for most.
2. Back of your knees. While it doesn’t seem like it would be a particularly sensitive area, the back of your knees are covered with nerve endings. More nerve endings = more pain.
3. Your neck. While there are probably a hundred good reasons NOT to get a neck tattoo (as anyone who has entered a job interview with one can probably tell you) one of the biggest downsides is the pain involved in getting it in the first place. Your neck is especially sensitive and the chances of you passing out from the pain are pretty high.
4. Your elbow. While those spider web elbow pieces may look cool on your average prisoner, be forewarned- this spot is both very close to the bone and made of rough, uneven skin. Uneven skin means that the tattoo artist may have to go over each line more than once, doubling or even tripling the pain that you had expected.