Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Throwback! Salem Tattoo Convention: 2014

PLEASE NOTE: I wrote this post shortly after visiting the tattoo convention on May 30th, 2014. Life has gotten hectic since then, and the post slipped my mind...until I opened the Blogger app and saw the post still sitting there, unpublished. Sorry about that! Better late than never....



THE 2014 SALEM 
TATTOO CONVENTION! 


The Male Unit and I love tattoo conventions. He had a rare Friday off work (after being named Employee of the Month!), so yesterday we headed out to Salem, the capital of Oregon, and the first Salem Tattoo Convention.



The convention was held at the Oregon State Fairgrounds building. Parking was close by, and at $3, a fair price. In addition, the convention featured many classic cars which were fun to explore and admire.

It was a pretty good turnout, with artists from Oregon, Washington, California, Arizona, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Manchester, England. The emcee was entertaining, the contests were enjoyable and the company was fantastic. A local roller derby was on hand (and on skates) to help give out prizes to the winners. 

My only complaint was the complete lack of air conditioning...not a good thing for heat-reactive me. I made a rookie mistake by not calling ahead of time. It was made worse by my choosing to take a cane and leaving my wheelchair at home. My feet & legs are so sore...but it was so worth it.


I have a convention tradition: I always get a butterfly tattoo. I'd like someday to be able to count how many conventions I've attended by counting butterflies! And yesterday was no exception. My other butterflies are on my legs, and are blue & purple. This time, I wanted a Monarch in all its orange & black beauty. I also decided on a different body placement: my first chest tattoo. 

After making the rounds and going through many photo books, I happened upon local Portland artist AJ. I love supporting female artists and was glad to come across one with exceptional skill. I was quite surprised to learn she'd only been tattooing for three years. Her level of proficiency usually takes years and years to achieve. And then I saw in her book a tattoo of morning glories. For years, the plan has been to have morning glories on vines on my left leg from foot to hip (I have them on my foot and ankle thus far.) AJ's morning glories were amazing. I was sold. 



was immediately at ease with AJ and truly enjoyed talking with her. She reminds me of Joan Jett: a kickass, take-no-prisoners rawk empress. She has lovely tattoos along her jawline, and an impressive portrait of the late Amy Winehouse on her leg. 

It wasn't just ink talk: AJ's had an eventful life! I enjoyed hearing her talk about her days in the military and life in a post-Katrina Louisiana gulf coast town. I had read how the small towns and cities devastated by the hurricane were ignored in favor of rebuilding New Orleans, but it was interesting (and poignant) to hear it from someone who lived it first-hand. 


While doing the prep work for my butterfly, I talked ink with AJ's assistant. At one point, I mentioned that I intended to get a treble clef on the knuckle of my right ring finger in honor of my orchestra teacher in elementary school, Mrs. Oldham. To my surprise they offered to throw that one in! I had not intended to get that particular design today, but thought, "What the hell. Sounds like fun!" 

So for the first time at a convention, I obtained two tattoos instead of one (not to mention a design that was not a butterfly.) 



Speaking of the Male Unit...while I was getting prepped for my chest butterfly (which kinda sounds like a bad late-70's prog rock band), Jonathan was getting some ink of his own, courtesy of Lance from Aardvark Tattoo (also a local PDX shop.) 




For years, he has wanted to get tattoos in honor of our three kids. He finally began to work towards that goal, with a fiery forearm tattoo to symbolize our firstborn, Phoenix. 



When he finished, he came by AJ's booth and watched as she was putting the finishing touches on my butterfly. Because of its location, this meant Jonathan saw my new tattoo before I did. The look on his face told me all I needed to know: it was fabulous. 

When I got to look at last, I had to agree: it truly is beautiful. I love it, and can't wait to get more ink from AJ! 




A funny realization hit my husband on the drive back to Portland: for the first time in our loooooong relationship, I now have more tattoos than he does! As far as I am concerned, this means he needs a new tattoo for Father's Day...in the spirit of fairness & equality. 

Thanks to everyone who made this convention possible, and a special thanks to AJ and Lance! You both ROCK!


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