If you’re thinking about attending a tattoo convention this year, check out our complete guide for getting the most out of your experience. by Danny Tress March 11, 2022
If you’re looking to kickstart or maximize your tattooing career, attending a tattoo convention is one of the best ways to do it. Tattoo conventions give you the chance to network, boost your skills, increase revenue, try new supplies, and grow your client list. But there are a few things to consider if you’re new to the convention scene.
Consider this your ultimate guide for making the most out of your next (or first-ever) tattoo convention.
First thing’s first: decide which tattoo convention is right for you. To start, a convention that’s close by gives you a chance to experience what they’re like firsthand without too much travel hassle. World Tattoo Events is an excellent guide for finding upcoming tattoo conventions both locally and overseas.
If you’re just getting started with conventions, don’t feel pressure to overbook yourself.
But if you’d like to attend more than one, be sure to find the best tattoo conventions for you. All conventions feature different opportunities, vendors, contests, and attractions. So, maybe the convention closest to you isn’t the one catching your eye. You might find one farther away that interests you more.
To find out, research which conventions have the supplies and event highlights you most want to experience. Also, check out which big-name artists are attending each upcoming convention. Maybe there’s an artist you really admire on the list. This could be your chance to meet and chat with them.
ProTip: Always reach out to a high-profile tattoo artist before the convention if you’d like to network with them. Their books will no doubt be full, so they’ll have to make time in their schedule to link up and chat.
But artist networking doesn’t strictly have to be high-profile. You can always attend a convention with an artist you know and pencil in a collab with them. Artist collabs are great to have on your calendar (but we’ll touch on that more later).
If this is your first tattoo convention, one booth will probably suffice. But maybe you’re offering merch and need more advertising space. Consider how many booths you’ll need months prior to the event (this is why marking your calendar first is so important). Booths get rented out fast, so you’ll want to claim yours in time.
And while you’re at it, make your travel plans at least three months in advance as well. Most convention Web pages advertise local hotels and transportation. Grab a good room while you can and book your flight if you’ll be flying interstate or overseas.
There are plenty of private and public Facebook groups devoted to tattoo conventions. Joining one of these groups not only gives you quick access to event schedules and booking opportunities — they also network you with other artists.
But it’s not just Facebook that can help you plan for your convention year. Follow event hosts on Instagram, such as Villain Arts, for other convention-related news. You can also use Instagram to your own advantage leading up to a convention date. Advertise your booth and location at the venue using your Instagram story in the days and hours leading up to your event. Tag any artists you’ve met or will be collab-ing with. Taking advantage of social media advertising means more eyes on you and your work… which could mean more clients!
The last thing you want is to show up for a tattoo convention without the equipment you need. Here are a few key things you’ll want to pack:
We touched a little on networking in the last section. Now let’s talk about how networking can boost your revenue, client base, and overall career at the convention.
First, if you take our advice and schedule a collab, advertising it on social media is a sure-fire way to attract new clients. Even without advertising, a good tattoo collaboration can attract a lot of attention.
But you can attract even more attention if you film your collab, take progress pictures, and post them to your Instagram story or TikTok account. Using convention-related hashtags and tags also helps boost your reach on social media. And more reach potentially means more new clients!
Second, it isn’t all about collabs. If you’re not ready to schedule and advertise a collab, conventions are still a great opportunity to meet other artists. Make sure you have free time in your schedule to walk around and talk to artists you haven’t met. You could make new friends or get inspired by a new style; and who knows? You could end up booking a guest spot at a new shop.
Here are a few other ways you can connect with artists at conventions and expand your reach overall:
Third, don’t forget about other vendors. The best tattoo conventions offer a huge variety of unique vendors, selling body jewelry, apparel, and the latest tattoo technology. Usually, tattoo supply vendors offer free samples of their latest tech. So, during your downtime, be sure to browse around, talk to new vendors, ask questions, and try out new technology. You might find a new favorite ink, cartridge needle, or power supply. And you also might find some dope body jewelry either for yourself or your shop’s display case.
Many tattoo conventions offer seminars that can enrich your career and boost your skillset. You’ll find seminars of all varieties, including (but not exclusive to) workshops/lessons in contrast, linework, using Procreate, running a tattoo business, and mental health tips. Most of these seminars are exclusive, meaning they require a fee. So, if you want to take advantage of a seminar at your next convention, be sure to research and sign up when you’re booking your booth and travel accommodations (i.e. months ahead of the game).
Along with seminars, all tattoo conventions feature contests. Contest categories are wide and varied, such as “Best Black and Gray” and “Best Color Work” tattoo contests. Participating in these contests is your chance to flex your skills and connect with other artists. It’s also your chance to potentially win some tattoo technology. Usually, a tattoo convention winner is awarded with brand-name tattoo supplies.
Mark your calendars for 2022 and make sure to use these tips to get the most out of your next (or first) tattoo convention. Be sure to equip yourself with the right gear, including portable tattoo furniture, essential medical supplies, and more. Plus, keep your eyes on your favorite artists throughout the year via Instagram and Facebook.