Currently reading : Montreal Art Tattoo Show 11
For the 11th year in a row, tattoo artists and aficionados have descended upon the Gare Windsor – a former train station and now a national historic site – in downtown Montreal for what has come to be regarded as one of North America’s foremost tattoo conventions. Organized by Pierre and Val of Montreal’s Tattoo Mania, this year’s Art Tattoo Show took place from September 6-8 and brought together an all star cast of artists ranging from local to international tattooers. It is surely these elements – location, organizers, and attending artists, that have been integral in maintaining this convention’s continued success, one that will hopefully continue for many years to come.
With well over 100 artists in attendance it is difficult to mention names without leaving out the vast majority of those who worked endlessly for days on end to apply tattoos to eager collectors. Yet, like all artistic pursuits, there are those whose work (and often times, work ethic) sets them apart from the crowd. By now, many of these artists have become household names in contemporary tattoo discourse – often reoccurring in magazines, various websites and Instagram, and of course, on the convention circuit. Within the same room one could concurrently witness Mike Rubendall apply a baku, Todd Noble working away at a tattoo of a woman, and Chad Koeplinger finish a tattoo at a speed that is rivaled by few. As if that wasn’t enough, it was also possible to see Horishin and Horimasa applying tattoos to unflinching customers, one aisle away from Paris’s Tin-Tin, which was one aisle away from the booth of Montreal’s PSC Tattoo, home of the living legend Tony D’Annessa – and these are just a few examples.
Few would argue, however, that the most impressive feat accomplished at the show was the completion of three back pieces – one per day – at the hand’s of Winnipeg’s Kurt Wiscombe and preeminent Swiss tattooer Filip Leu. Each day the duo worked collaboratively on a back piece from beginning to end, all of which featured different renderings of skull motifs. In front of a constant crowd, Wiscombe and Leu demonstrated a collaborative process that is rarely seen in tattooing. Tattooing, in comparison to many other forms of artistic expression, has been relatively slow to embrace a collaborative model (although it is not entirely without precedent) and this is surely one of the many reasons for such an enthusiastic response. It is this type of work that helps push tattooing as an art form in new directions, while at the same time providing a unique experience to all those in attendance. With the bar being once again pushed to new heights this year, one can only wait and see what the 2014 show has in store.
Special thanks go to Pierre and Val for organizing the event, all tattooers who graciously added to my collection, and Matthew for his photo conributions.