The sound of buzzing and overlapping genres of music from Rock to Rap are blaring through the air. Rows of tables with heavily tattooed and pierced faces peer up at me from everywhere. I’m at the Body Art Expo at the Phoenix Fairgrounds. Those tattooed faces? They’re smiling and welcoming showing off elaborate art pieces some on paper and some on skin. The tattoo experience is unique. At a normal convention you might meet an artist chat for a bit buy a print and move on. At a tattoo convention buying a piece of art connects you and the artist. You form a bond discuss the art and receive a permanent piece you take with you that’s on display for the world to see. Many people I know will only trust their body to a single artist and form a lasting friendship. I was on a mission to find an artist that did geeky tattoos. I brought my foreign exchange student from Italy and she was looking for a new piercing. What we found was a comradery around a passion that surpassed age, racial, and gender boundaries.
Stopping at a booth that sold body jewelry we asked if there were any piercers the jeweler would recommend. He pointed us down to the end of the row of tables to a piercer he said he trusted. The man we were ushered to was from Puerto Rico his entire family still had no power after last fall’s Hurricanes but here he was at the show chatting and smiling with clients. He was fluent in 3 different languages and remarkably one was Italian and he was able to speak at length to understand what and how my Italian friend wanted her new cartilage piercing.
After the piercing the tattoo competition was starting on a stage in the back. People gathered around and admired the artwork on men and women of all shapes sizes and racial backgrounds. I spotted a man with a full leg of Star Wars art and knew I had to talk to him. That’s when I found out the audience wasn’t just tattoo aficionados but the artist as well hoping their “canvas” and the people wearing them would win their category. “I have about 80 hours into this leg.” I was told by the contestant. When I pointed out the BB8 and the crushed Darth Vader helmet Kylo Ren keeps near he explained “Yeah when the new movies came out I knew it was time to see my artist again. I had to include them!” Just then a man walked up “Oh here’s my artist now.” I’m handed a card featuring the opera singer from the fifth element tattooed onto a leg. I might be in love. The artist David Noggle tells me he only works a couple days a month in Phoenix but he’s full time in Prescott.
I spy another contestant on the stage with a full anime sleeve. Bleach, Naruto, Tokyo Ghoul it all flows together incredibly. I’m awestruck by the talent, but his artist is not in attendance. We walk the floor again and I find some stormtrooper artwork on a table. It’s not a tattoo of a stormtrooper, but rather a “Marine” style tattoo that a stormtrooper himself might get. Emblazoned with “Death Before Dishonor” scrawled across a ribbon below a helmet. “That’s a single sitting piece” A smiling man behind the table explains. “I can do those ones in a single sitting.” Duck Jones from Timeless Art tattoo in Glendale tells me he loves doing star wars tattoos and he’s a huge fan.
By the end of the night I had a stack of cards. My Italian friend had a new earring and I had a new desire to add some geeky art to my skin.
Artist we met:
David Noggle Studio 6 – https://www.facebook.com/studio6phoenix/
Ricardo Miro MiroBodyPiercing – https://www.facebook.com/mirobodypiercing/
Duck Jones Timeless Art Tattoo https://www.instagram.com/duck_trt/