Tattoo Expo: Body Art in Humboldt County

Alex Anderson. Tori Reibel gets a tattoo of her dogs on her forearm from artist Megan Koehler at the Inked Hearts Expo.| Tori Reibel gets a tattoo of her dogs on her forearm from artist Megan Koehler at the Inked Hearts Expo.

Emma Sjostrom

This past weekend saw a slew of tattoo artists, piercers, and enthusiasts gather at the Blue Lake Casino & Hotel for the 13th Annual Inked Hearts Tattoo Expo. Featuring over 30 artists, the three-day event allowed attendees to get tattoos, and piercings and simply witness tattoo artists’ work.

Like artists and planners, many patrons eagerly await the event. Ashley Juarez-Mazariegos, one such patron, attended the event to receive a long-awaited but eagerly awaited tattoo.

“It’s my first time at the expo so it’s exciting,” Juarez-Mazariegos said.

As artists passed by their booths, participants chatted enthusiastically with them while listening to music. Exhibit attendees weren’t the only ones excited. Although the event was initially a rush effort, with $15,000 for the budget in 2009 it has become a highly-anticipated art exhibition that attracts many Humboldt County tattoo artists. Ted Marks (co-host, owner of NorCal Tattoo) and Amy Marks discussed the many benefits an event like this can have for the community.

“Humboldt gets to see the best work they’re ever going to see, and artists get to see Humboldt for the first time,” Ted Marks said.

This heart-to–heart connection is what inspired the convention logo. According to the Marks’, the event allows local artists to work alongside artists who have traveled great distances to get to the event.

Ventura Tattoos made the 600-mile trip from Southern California to Humboldt for the event. Danny Rentevia, an artist, expressed excitement about the convention, despite the stress and jarring nature that he described as leaving his shop to move here.

“It’s a great event, it’s a great time,” Renteria said. “It’s just fun to be here.”

Amy Marks, local spoke out about how the expo became what it is today, and the many benefits this has brought the community.

“I love [this event], especially growing up here there was never anything like this,” Amy Marks said. “Nobody’s done it up here, so it’s fun for us to work together.”

Craig Carroll, a former Eureka high school teacher, shows off his tattoos during the Inked Hearts Expo.| Former Eureka high teacher, 63-year-old Craig Carroll shows off his tattoos at the Inked Hearts Expo.

This is more than just a great place to get tattooed. The featured tattooists say that the event is a way for artists to share their art or have fun. Artists can share their work with clients and other artists, participate in daily contests or get tattooed.

“This cannot be replicated, I guarantee it,” Ted Marks said. “[Large shows] are cool and sometimes there’s a lot of people, but none of the artists talk. And art doesn’t grow in that environment.”

Ted and Amy Mark have been offered small amounts of money to expand their operation, which they declined.

The Marks’ also commented on what Cal Poly Humboldt students have brought for their shop and expo. Ted Marks spoke of his joy at seeing new students visit their shop to make new friends and bond with them.

“It’s amazing, without [the students] we’d be done,” Ted Marks said. “Cal Poly keeps us going.”

Even though the event is over students can still get tattoos. Artists featured at the event can be found on the event’s Instagram page @inkedhearts_tattoo. Students may be eligible for discounts for high grades at NorCal Tattoo. You can reach them by phone at 707 496-7034 or via Instagram @norcaltattoo707.

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