Not even halfway through the first day of the first-ever Ink Masters Tattoo Show hosted in Juneau, the organizer said he had already decided to return next year.
“It’s the support here — if people don’t support it, there’s no point in coming,” said Reymond Hernandez on Thursday afternoon. “Everybody that came so far, they’re walking out with their tattoos and are happy, and they’re telling us thanks for bringing the show — it means a lot to us.”
Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall buzzed with the sound of tattoo guns and loud music as hundreds of people walked through rows of the 90 tattoo or piercing artists that set up shop for the three-day expo. The show sold more than 450 tickets in just under six hours.
“We have enjoyed every customer walking out happy — that’s what we’re trying to make sure,” Hernandez said. “We’re trying to make sure that everybody feels happy with a perfect tattoo like that, and they’ll come back or even tell their friends.”
Most of the artists are not from Alaska, traveling from all over the country to come to Juneau. The variety of artists means differing styles of tattooing that, for many, are desired but not available in Alaska.
“There’s not a lot of different variety of styles that y’all have here,” said Lee Soto, an artist from Fort Worth, Texas, who traveled to Juneau for the first time to partake in the event. “It’s very nice to be able to come and give people different styles of tattooing, and it’s great just to show people something new.”
Since its establishment in 2009 by Hernandez and Theresa Bae, dozens of artists have participated in the Ink Masters Tattoo Show, which travels all around the country each year to share the variety of artists’ work with as many clients as possible. Juneau is just one stop out of the 43 expos planned by the show this year.
The show isn’t new to Alaska — Ink Masters expos have been held in Anchorage and Fairbanks for the past seven years, attracting thousands of people looking for ink.
Kiko Valladolid, an artist originally from Kodiak, said he recently participated in the Anchorage expo and was excited to tattoo in Juneau for the first time. Before the show began on Thursday, Valladolid had already booked 12 tattoos and was busy Thursday afternoon giving Juneau resident Tara Hansen a spaceship tattoo on her “galaxy” leg.
Hernandez said many artists were booked full or almost complete before the show began, but there’s still ample opportunity for walk-ins in the coming days. Soleil Lambert, a San Antonio piercer, said she had already given ten walk-in piercings by Thursday afternoon and seemed to be welcoming more clients by the minute.
Hernandez said that’s been the case for many artists. He was happy with Thursday’s turnout. He said he wouldn’t be surprised to see more than 4,000 people attend the expo in total. Even a week before the event started, the Facebook event page for Juneau had about 3,300 responses.
“We’re excited. I think it will be a great show,” he said. “We’re expecting a lot of people, especially on Saturday.”
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