Golden State Tattoo Expo 2023: Where the World’s Top Tattoo Artists Gather


Usually, clients must fly across the globe to get tattooed by the most sought-after artists, but not this weekend. From detailed fine-line portraits to bold abstractions, the Golden State Tattoo Expo has something for every tattoo enthusiast.

The expo returns to the Pasadena Convention Center from Friday, Sept. 15, to Sunday, Sept. 17. It brings some of the most highly in-demand tattoo artists under one roof, including artists like Nikko Hurtado and Carlos Torres, who co-host the event each year.

Hurtado, known for his hyper-realistic portraiture, is a judge on the reality tattoo competition “Ink Master” and has been featured in series such as “LA Ink” and “Tattoo Wars.” His clients include The Rock, Drake, Diddy, The Game, Wale, and Kat Von D. Torres, a nationally recognized tattoo artist specializing in black and gray realism and surrealism.

The duo will be accompanied by special guests from around the world, including Pony Lawson, co-founder of Mayday Tattoo Co., founder of Mayday Tattoo Supply and creator of the Tattoo Stencil and Tattoo Palette apps; Stefano Alcantara, who, after earning a degree from the Peruvian Institute of Advertising in graphic design, opened his first shop in Lima, Peru in 1999, and now owns a studio in New York; and Michael Hussar, who collaborated with rapper Sadistik on the cover art for the musician’s latest album, “Altars.” Artists Jess Yen, Mumia, Tony Mancia, and Andres Cardoza will also attend.

“It is so wonderful to have Golden State Tattoo Expo take over the Pasadena Convention Center once again,” said Michael Ross, CEO of the Pasadena Center Operating Company. “Every year, the best of the best descends on Pasadena to push the boundaries of artistic creativity in the tattoo industry. We proudly provide visitors with a premiere venue, exceptional service, and a world of shopping, dining, and entertainment in our walkable downtown areas.”

The expo began in 2017 after the success of its sister event, the Empire State Tattoo Expo in New York. “I wanted to put on a show with the best artists in the world, concentrating on tattoo art,” explained Marco Ceritelli, Golden State Tattoo Expo founder.

Not just any artist can attend; tattoo artists must submit portfolios during a rigorous selection process to be accepted into the show, Ceritelli said.

The three days of programming will include live tattooing, seminars from ink masters, burlesque performances, a sideshow, and daily competitions, with categories like best sleeve, best coverup, and best color portrait, along with competition categories for tattoos completed on-site like best of day and best of show.

Attendees can also peruse the vendor market for art, body jewelry, tools, fashion, and the latest tattoo equipment and innovations. Featured vendors include Ultimate Tattoo Supply, Cam Supply, Tattoo Zoo, Eternal Ink, and Zombie Sisters. Clothing brand Sullen Angel will conduct a model search; one visitor has the potential to become the brand’s “Sullen Angel of the Year.”

Over 700 artists and thousands looking to get custom and flash permanent wearable art will crowd into the 55,000-square-foot exhibition hall.

“One of the greatest artists in the world might have an open spot, and you can get tattooed by them,” Ceritelli said. Not only do guests come away with unforgettable art, but the gathering allows artists and the tattoo community to “come together and have a good time and share each other’s work and their experiences throughout the year.”

Golden State Tattoo Expo

WHEN: 4 p.m. to midnight Friday, Sept. 15; noon to midnight Saturday, Sept. 16; and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17

WHERE: Pasadena Convention Center, 300 E. Green Street, Pasadena

COST: $30 for the day, $60 for the weekend


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