Reflections on the Great British Tattoo Show

When I first discovered the Great British Tattoo Show last year I was eager to see what it was all about. Hold on, that’s not as stupid as it sounds. Was it a place to show off your tats?

When I first discovered the Great British Tattoo Show last year I was eager to see what it was all about. Hold on, that’s not as stupid as it sounds. Was it a place to show off your tats? Was it a place to get them done? Naively presuming the show would be filled with Goths, I went along and my stereotyping was proved wrong.

Sure there may have been a few along the way, but as I entered Olympia I was confronted by a venue submerged in a Rockabilly vibe—the rock n’ roll music, the 50’s attire, the slicked back hair. It was sublime. It reinstated that in London you can be WHOEVER you want to be.

A few weeks back I saw the advert for this year’s show and straight away I was logging on to my emails asking for a press pass. So excited for the show in fact I’ve started writing my opening paragraphs for this blog almost a week early at half one in the morning!

Skip forward a week and it is the day of the convention. I hoped on the train and after a lovely snooze on the way up I arrived at the new venue for this year—Alexandra Palace. Stood there was a grand old building accompanied by a lovely view all across London, made even more pleasant by the very overdue sunshine.

After collecting my pass from reception I went into the main hall. Plenty of artists were already at work, traders had set up their stools and new to this year’s show, the roller derby was in full swing. I’ve watched a little but still have no grasp of the rules or what this sport is all about. Never mind, as long as they are enjoying themselves.

The thing that stands out to me the most here (despite the obvious) is the fashion—I love it. There is a less rockabilly vibe this year, but there are still so many cool outfits. My favourite so far would be the guy I’m looking at right now. He’s rocking a pair of short denim shorts, a baby blue tee, black Vans with white socks and a luminous orange beanie. He looks sick.

From a photographic point of view, my favourite part of these shows are the catwalks. You can get so close to the stage. A few feet away and the lighting is perfect, making it a lot easier to get a good shot. The models are so photogenic. Covered in their ink, sometimes complimented with bright hair dye, they make for a really cool photo. Their bodies are different too. There are some naturally skinny girls, but thankfully these catwalks aren’t size obsessed. Long gone are the size-zero demands as women with a much more ‘real’ figure are welcomed. They seem proud of their curvier figure and so they should! In fact I’m sure today has made a number of women feel a lot more comfortable in their skin seeing plus size models strut down the catwalk (especially the ones who are half naked and in the latex show!)

They’ve also got live music from Jemma Krysa, performances from the Queen of burlesque, Beatrix Von Bourbon, plus some awesome Hot Rods laid out about the place. There really is something for everyone, although, I wouldn’t recommend if you a budding Ben Fogle.

After I went outside for some fresh air, although that plan failed when the courtyard was full of smokers, I went back in and saw a man who I immediately recognised. It was the model Jimmy Q! After I got a cheeky snap of him I went up for a chat. We spoke briefly about him being a model and about his tattoos. He was contemplating getting one that day on his neck. I asked him if he even had room as the front of his neck was covered by what seemed to be owl wings, but he turned around and his nape was bare. I wonder if it still is now.

Despite my nerves and a bit of an awkward silence at one point, I’m so glad I spoke to him. He was such a nice guy and so down to Earth, plus I can now add him to my mini claim to fame list alongside Frank Bruno and The Cheeky Girls! 

Soon after, I decided to call it a day. Just before I left though I wanted to use the telescopes they had outside to look out onto the city. Thankfully a man let me look through the one he was using. You could see so far and the detail was incredible! Plus it meant I saved myself 50p. Cheers mate!        

After taking a quick detour to the shops (I popped to Primark where I managed to get some clothes for my Fresh Prince outfit for a fancy dress party I’m going to soon), I reached Marylebone and was on the train home. Unfortunately due to the crowds on there I ended up sitting ON one of the luggage shelves! Desperate times call for desperate measures folks!

And there you have it ladies and gentlemen, that was The Great British Tattoo Show, or my diary from the 25th of May, 2013. Either way I hope you enjoyed and got a glimpse into the world of tattoo conventions. Hopefully I’ll see you again next year!

What do you think? Did you go to the Great British Tattoo Show? Have your say in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.