Correction: The original version of this article mentioned there were over 15,000 attendees at the 2015 Knoxville Tattoo Convention. The actual figure was 1,500. Both the editors and journalist regret the mistake.
By Robin McMahon
The third annual Knoxville Tattoo Convention was held Aug. 28–30 at the Holiday Inn convention center located in downtown Knoxville. The event was estimated to have over 15,000 attendees that were able to view over 90 artists and vendors. There was something for every age with the kids tattoo coloring contest, a burlesque show and performance by The Enigma, a full-body jigsaw tattooed man with body modifications and much more. Patrons were able to be tattooed on site by their favorite artists.
Guests were able to meet with multiple tattoo artists to discover their style and view their portfolios. Many of our local artists were in attendance, as well as a few from the neighboring states of Kentucky and Georgia. One business had came as far as California. The artist Joey Hulsey had been raised in Farragut and found this to be the perfect opportunity to return to the area. The artists were just as excited as the patrons to be at the convention, utilizing it as a source of inspiration and opportunity to see old friends and a chance to build their skills.
Logan James Wright, an employee at Southern Draw Skin Art Studio in Pigeon Forge, mentioned, “We gained a larger network and strengthened our skills by growing off of other artists. A convention is always a good way to inspire artists. Also, lots of local artists go each year to meet potential clients and see old friends that travel from out of state.”
Cara Lethco, also an employee at Southern Draw, won third place in the Tattoo of the Day competition for her Tyrannosaurus rex tattoo. Commenting on her award, Lethco said, “With it both being my first convention and so many artists participating in the competition, after hearing them call out my client’s name, I gasped. I was in total shock. My client handed me the trophy and I was filled with joy. I’ve worked hard for so long and hopefully this is just the beginning.”
The Enigma (AKA Paul Lawrence), a performer who has his entire body tattooed as a jigsaw puzzle, made an appearance at the convention this year. His eyes are tattooed black, adding to his long list of body enhancements: piercings, body modifications to represent horns, and puzzle pieces that remove from his ears. He is known for his appearance in multiple TV shows, music festivals and Ripley’s 2013 “Believe it or Not!” publication. He performs throughout the world but mainly works the North American circuit with the Showdevils, a freak show based out of Hollywood, Calif.
Additional events at the festival included tattoo contests in fifteen categories. The categories ranged from best tattoo to worst. Danny Fugate was on site and hosted a seminar on CPR and first aid classes, allowing artists to keep up to date on the state-mandated certification.
The event is expected to be held around the same time next year. More information can be found at KnoxvilleTattooConvention.com.