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Villain Arts tattoo convention returns to Baltimore

Walking past the booths at this year’s Baltimore Tattoo Convention, the first thing I thought was just how impressive it was to have so many shops and independent artists set up together into hallways that crowds could wander through.

My second thought was, “there is a lot of buzzing.”

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But unlike the sounds of a drill you might hear in your dentist’s waiting room, this was a pleasant buzz—one that people were looking forward to.

I’ve been fascinated by tattoos for a while now but it took me till last year to finally pull the trigger and get one. And then another. And another.

This would be my first time to the city’s annual tattoo convention, and I couldn’t wait to check it out.

Tattoo artist Kegan Hawkins, who traveled from Newcastle, Australia, works on a design for Ashley Hooton. Hawkins' work name is Tater Tatts.
Tattoo artist Kegan Hawkins, who traveled from Newcastle, Australia, works on a design for Ashley Hooton. Hawkins' work name is Tater Tatts. (Ulysses Munoz / Baltimore Sun)

Over the weekend, I met people from all over the world who had come together over a shared love of tattoos. I met cosplayer Lua, who was getting an arm tattoo based on Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle from artist Joe Matisa. A local resident Michael told me he comes back to the convention every single year to get work done from Arizona based artist Mario G.

Gabi came from Illinois to get some work done at the convention. I thought she might have traveled the furthest until I met tattoo artist Tater (real name Kegan) who came all the way from Queensland, Australia.

I left with a much better sense of how important the relationship between artist and client is. Between discussions over designs, number of sessions, sizing and pricing, there’s a lot of trust involved. Like searching for a new barber or hairdresser, when you’ve found the right one that’s not a bond to take lightly.

Oh, and I also left with a new Star Wars tattoo. (Thanks, Buk!)

The 11th annual Villain Arts Baltimore Tattoo Convention was held over the weekend of May 4th at the Baltimore Convention Center.
The 11th annual Villain Arts Baltimore Tattoo Convention was held over the weekend of May 4th at the Baltimore Convention Center. (Ulysses Muñoz / Baltimore Sun)
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