Sunday, February 15, 2015

Inked Hearts: A Photo Essay by Mark Larson

Posted By on Sun, Feb 15, 2015 at 2:22 PM

click to enlarge The equivalent of a photo album of multiple generations of family members could be found among the body art on this person (who chose not to share his full name). He was helping staff one of the many tattoo booths at the Inked Hearts Tattoo Expo in the Sapphire Palace at the Blue Lake Casino on Feb. 8. - MARK LARSON
  • Mark Larson
  • The equivalent of a photo album of multiple generations of family members could be found among the body art on this person (who chose not to share his full name). He was helping staff one of the many tattoo booths at the Inked Hearts Tattoo Expo in the Sapphire Palace at the Blue Lake Casino on Feb. 8.
As I entered the Inked Hearts Tattoo Expo, I was immediately struck by buzzing of tattoo guns and the unusual sight of many people lying passively on tables, receiving their latest ink.

I enjoyed my visit to the sixth annual tattoo expo held in the Blue Lake Casino’s Sapphire Palace on Feb. 8, partly because it makes me feel closer to our daughter Hillary, a tattoo artist living in Brooklyn. She’s the product of Arcata High School and an expensive art school education.



But mostly I enjoy the social scene at this event because I get a chance to talk to the tattoo artists — who come from all over the country to attend — as well as to meet those present who choose to get inked. The attendees are a visual overload of wide ranging body types, displaying a mix of standard “flash” to original tattoo designs located on a variety of body parts.


The Expo also includes vendors with mix of products, including ink to original art, t-shirts and other mementos from the tattoo shops.

It always surprises me to see how far some tattoo artists travel to participate in this Expo. Reese Hilburn, who works at Lucky’s Tattoo Parlor in San Diego, has traveled this year from Miami to Amarillo to Blue Lake. Her next tour date is in Argentina.

Seth Hayes, a former trainer at HealthSPORT in Arcata now living in Miami, introduces me to tattoo artists from Miami who he convinced to participate in the Expo. I meet other artists based in Texas; clearly, tattoo artists need to travel to make a living.

The Expo wrapped up late Sunday afternoon with awards for a mix of competitions. And full disclosure — I do not have a tattoo. My mom won’t let me get one.

click to enlarge A close-up view reveals the artist's tattoo gun at work on the the "canvas" of a person's back. - MARK LARSON
  • Mark Larson
  • A close-up view reveals the artist's tattoo gun at work on the the "canvas" of a person's back.
click to enlarge Tattoo artists and the recipients of their work crowded the booths at the Inked Hearts Tattoo Expo. - MARK LARSON
  • Mark Larson
  • Tattoo artists and the recipients of their work crowded the booths at the Inked Hearts Tattoo Expo.
click to enlarge Several booths offered original art, standard "flash" and other products, such as ink, at the Expo. - MARK LARSON
  • Mark Larson
  • Several booths offered original art, standard "flash" and other products, such as ink, at the Expo.
click to enlarge My favorite sight-seeing activity was to review the original art work done by the tattoo artists along with the familiar "flash" designs. - MARK LARSON
  • Mark Larson
  • My favorite sight-seeing activity was to review the original art work done by the tattoo artists along with the familiar "flash" designs.
click to enlarge Alexander Hodge, of Hoopa, patiently waited as  more extensive designs were added to his arm in preparation for additional tattoo work to be done surrounding his stylized turtle-image tattoo. Hodge was at the  A-Town Tattoo (from Glendale, Calif.) booth. Customized designs such as this can take several hours of work to complete. - MARK LARSON
  • Mark Larson
  • Alexander Hodge, of Hoopa, patiently waited as more extensive designs were added to his arm in preparation for additional tattoo work to be done surrounding his stylized turtle-image tattoo. Hodge was at the A-Town Tattoo (from Glendale, Calif.) booth. Customized designs such as this can take several hours of work to complete.
click to enlarge Mike Greenwood, of Fieldbrook, received a "sleeve" of tattoo work from Reese Hilburn,  who works at Lucky’s Tattoo Parlor in San Diego. - MARK LARSON
  • Mark Larson
  • Mike Greenwood, of Fieldbrook, received a "sleeve" of tattoo work from Reese Hilburn, who works at Lucky’s Tattoo Parlor in San Diego.

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Mark Larson

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