THE TATTOO CONVENTION – THEN AND NOW
A guest article by Dirk-Boris Rödel – the former head of the Tattoo Magazine.
A guest article by Dirk-Boris Rödel – the former head of the Tattoo Magazine.In 1995, as far as I can remember, I had about three or four smaller tattoos, which was pretty good at the time. The first two or three issues had just been published by The TätowierMagazin, but if you wanted to find out more about the tattoo scene, you still bought the “Tattoo” magazine from the Paisano-Verlag, where the chopper magazine “Easyriders” was also published. The “Tattoo” was a thin magazine, from front to back was full of really bad tattoos, printed on cheap in black and white paper. For a long time it was the only magazine that provided information about tattoos at all, it appeared onlyquarterly at the beginning and focused on the American scene.
I assume that I found the date for the Munich Tattoo-Convention 1995 from the “Tattoo”, because internet or similar did not exist at that time. At that time, you could easily count the number of tattoo shows in Germany on your fingers. I hadn’t attended any other conventions, even if there were already some in Frankfurt, Karlsruhe or Berlin.
At that time, they advertised with special star tattooists on posters and advertisements, so I learned that Fiona Long from Feline Tattoo from Sheffield, England, among others would come to Munich. Fiona’s work was already known to me through the tattoo magazine, she made (and still does) particularly beautiful colored tattoos, so I wrote her in advance and asked for an appointment at the Munich convention. As a motif, I had chosen a template of the Brazilian flash artist Mauricio, an orc – at that time it was not common for tattooists to make their own designs, most of them resorted to the sheets of flash artists.
I remember how overwhelmed I was when I entered the Mathäser Saal, where the Munich Convention took place in 1995. It was an old ballroom with tattoo stands downstairs as well as upstairs in the gallery, a large, bright and pompous hall filled with all the “stars” of the scene at the time, which until then I only knew from the magazine. The Munich tattoo veteran Tattoo Sohne had used his international contacts with the piercer Randy and had already brought tattooists like Aaron Bell from Seattle or Jack Mosher from Kalamazoo to Munich in the 90s, as well as ThEnigma, the blue puzzle man. Conventions such as the one organized by Sohne in Munich were still real international scene meetings, where you could meet tattooists who had created their own styles, such as the Viennese tattooartists Bernie Luther or Waldi Wahn – not the kind of cheap events of today, where non-scene organizers simply pepper two dozen 08/15 tattooists from the neighboring villages into a town hall to demand admission.
The visitors of the tattoo conventions were, of course, already tattooed above average in the 90s. However completely back tattoos or sleeves were, by no means, as normal a sight as they are today. Tattoos were not always placed in visible places, but since one liked to show what one had at such tradefairs, without wanting to run around half-naked, one often saw visitors at conventions who had cut holes in their pants, shirts and sweaters where they wore tattoos – a bizarre fashion trend that died out again at the end of the 90s, when tattoos on forearms became more common and “peepholes” in clothesbecame obsolete.
One of the most popular booths at the Munich Convention was that of Wildcat from England. Althoughthere was already a German branch of the piercing supplier, the company’s founders from Great Britainstill traveled to many conventions. Since piercing jewelry could not be ordered over the Internet at that time, conventions like Munich were the only way to buy banana bells, ball-closure rings or smooth-segment rings for many tattooists, who also offered piercings in their studios. Long lines formed in front of the Wildcat stand, most of the time, the stand was sold out very quickly.
An integral part of the show program, at that time, was always a freak show and a strip show later in the evening – I can’t remember exactly what was happening in Munich at that time, but I think that was about the standard program. It was also a bit oriented towards the biker scene, from which most tattoo artists came at that time.
You could fortify yourself right next to the Mathäser Festsaal in a traditional Bavarian inn. Not one for tourists, but in a restaurant where the natives of Munich met on Sunday for a white sausage breakfast. During the Munich Tattoo Convention, half-naked tattooed and pierced freaks, punks and rockabillies sat next to Bavarian natives in leather trousers and with shaving brushes on their hats, munching on pork knuckles, sour Lüngerl or half chicken and drank white beer. An incomparable cheerful and cozy atmosphere that I have never experienced anywhere else.
Tattoo Sohne, who unfortunately gave up his wonderful event after a second convention, set the bar very high for the now annual convention, the TattooMea. The TattooMea now aims to use his conventions as a guide for the new Munich convention. Which is set to be hosted by TätowierMagazin for the first time this year from May 8th through the 10th. Top studios such as the legendary Apocalypse Tattoo from Berlin, the Black Rainbow Theatre from Zwickau, the Munich Studio Corpsepainter by Julian Siebert, Andy Engel, Fabrice Koch from FabINKognito, GAX from Wiesbaden, Tara from Into the Light, Dane from Abseits Tattoo and Darby from the Golden Times Atelier etc… Of course, one cannot revive the incomparable atmosphere of Son’s “old” Munich Convention, but at least it is the claim of TattooMea tobuild on the quality of its event and perhaps to let some of the old spirit of the tattoo scene waft throughthe halls.
I will moderate the TattooMea and look forward to Munich getting another convention, worthy of the Bavarian capital, with this tattoo fair!