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Tattoo convention tips: What to expect and how to prepare like a pro


Attending a tattoo convention can be an overwhelming experience, especially if it's your first time. The sheer number of artists, the buzz of live tattooing, and the multitude of events can easily leave you feeling lost and unprepared.

Many attendees find themselves struggling with long lines, missed appointments, and navigating the vast array of booths and activities without a clear plan. Moreover, the excitement often leads to neglecting basic health and safety measures, resulting in discomfort or even health issues.

To help you avoid these common pitfalls and ensure a smooth, enjoyable experience, here are some essential tips on what to expect and how to prepare like a pro.

What is the purpose of tattoo conventions?

Tattoo conventions serve as vibrant gatherings for tattoo enthusiasts, artists, and industry professionals to celebrate and promote the art of tattooing. These events gives a platform for artists to showcase their skills, share techniques, and gain exposure to a broader audience.

Attendees can explore various styles and designs, often watching live tattooing sessions and even getting inked on-site by renowned tattooists. Conventions also facilitate networking opportunities, allowing artists to connect with peers, suppliers, and potential clients.

Additionally, these events often feature seminars, contests, and exhibitions, enriching the cultural appreciation and understanding of tattoo artistry.

What to expect at a tattoo convention


seminar during tattoo conventions


Overview of typical activities and events:

  • Live tattooing sessions: Many artists will be tattooing clients live, allowing you to see various techniques and styles in action.
  • Artist booths and galleries: Booths showcasing the work of numerous tattoo artists. You can view their tattoo portfolios, discuss potential designs, and book appointments.
  • Seminars and workshops: Educational sessions where you can learn about the latest tattoo trends, techniques, and best practices in the tattoo industry.
  • Contests and awards: Competitions where artists showcase their best work in various categories, judged by industry experts.

Variety of artists and styles:

A diverse range of tattoo artists, each with their unique styles and specialities, from traditional and neo-traditional to realistic, abstract, and more.

Merchandise and vendor stalls:

Stalls selling tattoo-related merchandise such as inks, machines, aftercare products, apparel, artwork, and accessories.

Networking opportunities with artists and enthusiasts:

A great environment to connect with other tattoo enthusiasts, artists, and industry professionals. It's a perfect place to share experiences, get inspiration, and establish relationships.

How to prepare for the tattoo convention

Tattoo conventions are vibrant festivals of creativity and craftsmanship where artists from around the globe showcase their talent, learn from others, and connect with enthusiasts. If you're a tattoo artist preparing to attend a convention, planning ahead is key to making the most of this opportunity.

1. Refine your portfolio

Your portfolio is your calling card. Prior to the convention, curate a selection of your best work. Make sure to include a variety of styles to appeal to a broad audience. High-quality photographs in a professionally bound book or a digital slideshow can make a significant impact.

For more in-depth advice on taking your portfolio to the next level, don't miss our Ultimate guide to tattoo portfolio development: Tips for artists. Check it out now to enhance your presentation and captivate your audience!

2. Design an eye-catching booth

Your tattoo booth is a physical representation of your brand. Invest in high-quality banners and clear signage. Consider elements that stand out visually, like interesting lighting or interactive displays. Your booth should be welcoming and organised, encouraging attendees to stop by and engage with you.

3. Check equipment and supplies


tattoo supplies


Double-check your inventory well before the event. Ensure you have all the necessary tools: tattoo machines, needles, inks, sterilisation equipment, and safety supplies like gloves and barriers. Always bring extra supplies to avoid running out, and consider the logistics of your setup for efficiency and cleanliness.

4. Comply with health standards

Each convention and location may have different health and safety regulations. Familiarise yourself with these and prepare all necessary documentation, such as health certificates and business licenses, to display at your booth.

5. Schedule appointments in advance

Utilise your social media platforms and client network to pre-book appointments. This helps manage your time at the convention effectively. However, leave some availability for walk-in clients who discover your work at the event.

6. Promote your attendance

Announce your participation in the convention on all your social media channels. Use posts, stories, and even paid ads to inform your followers and drum up interest. You can also give discounts or special promotions exclusive to the event attendees.

7. Network actively

Bring plenty of business cards or other promotional items to hand out. Conventions are not just about attracting clients; they're also about building relationships with other artists and vendors. Engage in conversations, share tattoo experiences, and make connections that could lead to collaborative tattoo projects or opportunities.

8. Take care of yourself

Conventions can be exhilarating but exhausting. Stay hydrated, eat regularly, and wear comfortable clothing. It's important to remain energised and alert throughout the event to ensure you perform your best.

9. Capture the moment

Take photos and videos of your work, booth setup, and interactions with clients and other artists. Post these in real time to engage your social media followers. After the event, use this content for promotional purposes or to share your experiences.

10. Follow up after the event

Gather contacts and leads during the convention. After the event, reach out with thank-you notes, follow-up emails, or offers. This helps to solidify relationships and convert leads into future clients.

Tips for making the most of your experience


tattoo inks and supplies


  • Showcase your best work: Have a portfolio that highlights a variety of your best tattoos.
  • Engage with attendees: Be approachable and ready to discuss your work and book sessions.
  • Network: Connect with other artists and industry professionals to share tips and possibly collaborate.
  • Take notes: Learn new techniques and trends from workshops or other artists.
  • Stay organised: Keep your schedule and booth tidy to manage appointments smoothly.
  • Use social media: Post updates and content live from the event to engage followers.
  • Offer deals: Attract more clients with special promotions exclusive to the convention.
  • Stay energised: Take breaks, hydrate, and eat properly to maintain your best performance.
  • Follow-up: Contact new connections and leads post-convention to maximise opportunities.

Common mistakes to avoid at a tattoo convention

  • Attending a tattoo convention can be an exhilarating experience, but it's easy to run into pitfalls if you're not careful. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:
  • Failing to prepare your portfolio, supplies, or booth design adequately can lead to a less professional appearance and missed opportunities.
  • While it's tempting to fill every slot, overbooking can lead to rushed work and decreased quality, which might harm your reputation.
  • Overlooking local health and safety standards can not only put you and your clients at risk but also lead to fines or being barred from future events.
  • Not allocating enough time for each appointment, including setup and cleanup, can cause delays and dissatisfaction among clients. Ensure you are aware of the opening times for each day of the convention to manage your schedule effectively.
  • Focusing solely on tattooing and not engaging with other artists and attendees can mean missing out on valuable connections and insights.
  • Not utilising promotional opportunities or failing to market your presence at the convention can result in fewer appointments and less exposure.
  • Not keeping track of contacts or failing to reach out post-convention can waste potential future business and networking opportunities.

Some of the best tattoo conventions in the UK

The UK hosts several top-tier tattoo conventions that draw the best artists from around the globe. These events are not only a celebration of tattoo culture but also a great opportunity for networking and inspiration.

Liverpool tattoo convention

Held at the Exhibition Centre Liverpool, this event is a major highlight in the tattoo community. This convention features a vibrant arts expo that showcases a different tattoo styles and techniques by some of the best artists from around the world.

Bristol tattoo convention

Taking place at the Ashton Gate Stadium, this inaugural event quickly earned a reputation as one of the must-visit tattoo conventions in the UK. It's an excellent platform for artists and enthusiasts to explore innovative designs and witness live tattooing by renowned international and local artists.

These conventions are perfect examples of how the UK tattoo scene brings together exceptional talent and artistry, offering attendees a rich experience in both traditional and contemporary tattoo arts.

Whether you are looking to get inked, learn new techniques, or simply admire art, these events provide a comprehensive look into the vibrant world of tattoos.

Final thoughts

Attending a tattoo convention is a fantastic opportunity for growth and exposure in the tattoo industry. Preparing well is crucial—this means having a stellar portfolio, a standout booth, and all necessary supplies and documents in order. At the event, focus on showcasing your skills, networking with peers, and absorbing new trends and techniques.

Remember, your preparation and engagement during the convention can turn into a pivotal moment for your career. With the right approach, you can navigate the event like a pro and truly capitalise on the experience.


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  • Mark Joshua Luz