Opening day for the Calgary Tattoo and Art festival was lacking in man-power to accommodate the artists as the event returned to full capacity for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to show Director Terra Conners, the venue had over 500 vendors in attendance.

“[There are] logistical issues with supplies, mostly, [like] the supplies they were supposed to source for us, or said they would, aren’t readily available… or ample timing to access the equipment that we’re supposed to be able to access is not there,”  said Hanna “Banana” Gideon, a tattoo artist from Mardon Tattoos in Sherwood Park.

Jeff Burgess tattoos the ankle of Adrian Parcioaga at the Calgary Tattoo Convention on Oct. 14, 2022. Burgess works out of Midnight Oil Tattoos in Regina, Sask., and was in Calgary for the convention. (Photo by Heather Chapin/The Emery Weal)

The convention opened its doors at 4 p.m. Artists with their clients were lined up for 30 minutes at the printing station to print their stencils.

To transfer the artist’s design onto someone’s skin, a printed stencil with transferable ink is predominately used to replace a ‘free-hand’ drawing.

Vicky Miao places a stencil onto the arm of Robin Soulier-Rightchot at the Calgary Tattoo Convention on Oct. 14, 2022. (Photo by Heather Chapin/The Emery Weal)

“It’s very hectic but it’s been a good experience so far,” said Gideon.

“I’ve been here since noon and I have not stopped,” said Amy Rothery, a volunteer working at the printing stations.

“I feel like people are really expectant on the organization and the people who run it.” 

Fiery performances

Kayla Cardona of the Fuel Girls performs at the Calgary Tattoo convention on Oct. 14, 2022. (Photo by Heather Chapin/ The Emery Weal)

The weekend long event featured contests, retail vendors and live entertainment with international headliners such as UK-based Fuel Girls.

Entertainers such as Tea Fannie performed at the convention. Tea Fannie is a local Calgarian rapper who sings about inclusivity and diversity.

According to Sled Island Music Festival, Tea Fannie grew up ‘ingesting an omnivorous musical diet.’ Thus, this created her distinctive hip-hop style based on hits from the 2000’s and Caribbean style music.

Alexa Hébert sits at her booth at the Calgary Tattoo Convention on Oct. 14, 2022. Hébert was one of the many artists offering pre-drawn miniature flash tattoos. (Photo by Heather Chapin/The Emery Weal)

The convention also had a booth selling taxidermy animals. The convention also had vendors selling hand-made jewellery, smoking paraphernalia, and even a massage booth.

To abide by newly implemented health and safety regulations, artists in attendance were asked to leave their supplies at home.

Instead, they were provided an Eikon pack, which included standard tattooing materials such as alcohol wipes, stencil paper, skin markers, absorbent pads and surgical tape.

The event was hosted at the BMO centre on the Stampede Grounds in Calgary, and it had over 15,000 square feet for artists and vendors. Markedly, it has labelled itself the ‘biggest event of its kind’ in Canada.

Furthermore, it claims that 2022 was the largest tattoo convention in Calgary’s history.

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