Lately, I’ve been searching for more diverse experiences as an artist. I want new things to learn, see, and participate in so that I can increase my knowledge and force myself out of my comfort zone. So, when an opportunity to attend the fifth annual Minneapolis Tattoo Arts Convention at the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis fell into my lap, I realized that this was the kind of opportunity I was looking for.
The Minneapolis Tattoo Arts Convention features a select group of incredibly skilled tattoo artists gathering in one place where thousands of people, over a three-day period (this year, from January 11-13), come to appreciate the artists’ work and maybe get some ink of their own. Everyone was in high spirits and extremely friendly—answering any questions I had and being incredibly sensitive to the fact that I wanted a tattoo but was very nervous to get one.
I’m a bit of a shrinking violet at conventions, so I mostly kept to myself and leafed through beautiful portfolio art. It was a part of the arts community that I didn’t know a lot about, and it was the kind of fun that I didn’t need alcohol to appreciate. The thing about new experiences is that they often present unexpected and unique challenges that, if overcome, equip you with new skills that can benefit you throughout your life journey.
That was sort of the theme of my day after one of the most interesting, insightful, and thought-provoking interviews I’ve ever had: a conversation with NY Ink’s Megan Massacre that accidentally didn’t get recorded. I was just so nervous and it was so cold outside that I guess pressing the record button somehow managed to slip my mind.
Megan was really great about it (despite the fact that I lost about 30 minutes of the best knowledge anyone has ever imparted unto me about tattooing). She was more than happy to start over, and she began by offering advice about something that I’ve been struggling with for a while myself: “I think that the best thing that you can do in a creative career, whether it be tattooing or not, is to just not pigeonhole yourself into any specific style.”
In Megan’s nine years as a tattoo artist, she has acquired a great deal of knowledge and information that has opened her up to other forms of expression including music, modeling, and fine art. She speaks often about a time not too long ago, before the first tattoo show (Miami Ink) aired, when tattoos and the artists that crafted them were shunned and ostracized; especially in regards to women. “I could remember actually holding a door for an old lady who needed a walker to get through and she refused to walk through the door because I was holding it.”
It’s incredible how quickly things can change within the art scene, and Megan finds it funny how easily it is to forget the past now that tattooing is something that so many are passionate about. I spoke with her at great length about why tattooing has inspired such devotion over the years (another part of the interview I forgot to record), and she mentioned the emotional resonance that these images on flesh have. She discussed the concept of “tattoo therapy,” helping the wearer heal from trauma or connect them to memorable moments in their lives. There is an intense spiritual connection between the one giving the tattoo, the one getting it, and the image itself because of the reasons and stories behind them. Megan says she has a hard time holding back tears during moments like these.
I did want to get a tattoo at the convention that day, but it didn’t feel right doing it alone. I wanted my friends there with me giving me confidence, and I wanted a friend holding the needle and reminding me that I can push through the pain. This may happen one day when I decide to stop being such a chicken.
And I missed seeing The Enigma, which will bum me out forever. If you’re interested in listening to my complete interview with Megan Massacre, just scroll down and hit play on each of the seven segments in turn.
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