New York

Bringing Out the Color of NYC with the Tattoo Convention

This weekend, everyone who was anyone was busy getting a tattoo. Or so it seemed.   The 15th Annual New York Tattoo Convention took place at midtown’s Roseland Ballroom, and it was a site to behold.   They say that people come as far away as Japan and New Zealand to be part of the fun.

But what exactly happens at a tattoo convention? First of all, there are many vendors there, ready to tattoo anyone 18 and over on the spot. Then, once you’ve got your spanking new tattoo, there are tattoo contests where you can show off your new item and try to win prizes.

Michelle Myles, owner of a lower East Side tattoo parlor called Daredevil Tattoo, romantically recounted what she loves about the convention. As she said,

“One of my favorite things about the convention are the people I’ve connected with. One year, I met this guy from Germany named Tattooed Theo who was in his 70s and didn’t speak any English. I had a tattoo book about the history of tattooing and his photo was in it from back in the ’60s.”

She continued, “By then he was an old guy and his whole body was tattooed up, but he had a tiny little inch of space and, even though he didn’t speak a word of English, he let me tattoo him in that spot. Where else would that happen?”

The convention was originally founded by Steven Bonge and Butch Garcia after the ban on tattooing was lifted in the City in 1997.   The convention invites almost 200 tattoo artists each year including some of the biggest names in tattooing like Jack Ruby and Paul Booth.

Those who love the convention are fast to point out, as well, that it’s not a biker’s paradise.   There are families walking around and it’s a serious center for art and entertainment, as Bonge describes it.

Awards were handed out for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place for: black and white tattooing, color tattooing, back or chest tattooing, portrait tattoos, old school tattoos, sleeve tattoos, best overall tattooed person, best tattoo of the day and more.



James Allenby is the editor of Gowanus Lounge, bringing to his position a vast background on New York, and especially Brooklyn history, culture and lifestyle. Born and bred in the heart of "the County of Kings" James Allenby knows what it means to be a Brooklynite, and imparts this meaning at all times to his readers. Contact James at info(at)