In the 1980s or ’90s, if you had told your mom you were getting a tattoo, she might have gasped in disbelief. Fast forward to today, and tattoos have become so widely accepted that your mom might accompany you to the tattoo parlor. This shift in perception was evident at the Atlantic City Tattoo Expo, where body art enthusiasts of all ages and backgrounds gathered to celebrate the diverse world of tattoos.
Jennifer Wolf, a second-grade teacher from Jackson, New Jersey, attended the event with her son, Christopher. They explored the rich tapestry of tattoo art and artists on display at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City. For Jennifer, getting tattoos has become a way to express herself, a form of art that doesn’t hinder her professional life. She recently adorned her forearm with an intricate flower tattoo, showcasing the evolution of societal attitudes towards body art.
The Wolfs’ experience reflects a broader trend in the acceptance and appreciation of tattoos. The Atlantic City Tattoo Expo drew approximately 3,500 people, ranging from heavily tattooed individuals to those with discreet ink or none. This annual event, organized by Jon Henderson’s Good Time Tricycle Productions, has been a staple for 19 years, with a brief hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jon Henderson, the event organizer, marveled at the transformation of the tattoo industry over the years. He noted that the tools and techniques artists use have evolved significantly, and people’s motivations for getting tattoos have shifted. Tattoos are now a means of commemorating a significant moment, expressing oneself, or simply embracing the cool factor.
The expo featured nearly 200 tattoo artists from the local area, various parts of the United States, and even international locations like Italy, Japan, and Spain. These artists specialized in multiple tattoo styles, from American Traditional and Black and Grey to the intricate art of hand-poking tattoos using non-mechanical needles.
Attendees like Neil Thompson from Absecon used the expo to explore their tattoo interests. Neil, a 27-year-old aspiring tattoo enthusiast, attended multiple tattoo expos in the region, including Wildwood, Cherry Hill, and Philadelphia. These events helped him clarify his tattoo preferences, with American traditional and Japanese styles topping his list.
Neil discovered what he was looking for and which artists could bring his tattoo ideas to life. He also expressed a willingness to travel to another state for a tattoo he truly desired. Neil found the expos particularly appealing because many artists offered flash tattoos ready to go at reasonable prices.
In addition to showcasing tattoo art, the Atlantic City Tattoo Expo featured vendors selling tattoo supplies, piercings, holistic goods, and other products. Local organizations like Skate AC and Union Hall Arts used the event to raise awareness about their initiatives.
The expo also included engaging activities, such as tattoo contests, beard and mustache contests, and even amusing challenges where participants did silly things for cash rewards. Ken Howland, who came to support his tattoo artist, Daniel Gonzalez of Soul Kraft Ink in Asbury Park, summed up the atmosphere at the event: “It’s like being a part of a family.”
The Atlantic City Tattoo Expo served as a testament to the evolving landscape of tattoo culture, where inked expressions have transitioned from the fringes of society to a celebrated and inclusive art form. As body art continues to break down barriers and find its place in mainstream acceptance, events like this will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in shaping the future of the tattoo industry. Stay tuned for more updates from the world of body art, where creativity knows no bounds.