Calgary Tattoo and Arts Festival: Two Decades of Ink and Creativity


The Calgary Tattoo and Arts Festival, an iconic celebration of ink and creativity, has once again made its indelible mark on the city as it returned for its 20th anniversary. From October 13th to 15th, the BMO Centre was transformed into a hub of artistic expression, where local and international tattoo artists converged to showcase their incredible talents.

This remarkable event has been a testament to the ever-growing popularity of tattooing, as its founder, Steve Peace, remarked: “The popularity of tattooing just surprises me. It just gets more popular every year.”

The festival began two decades ago when the first show occurred at The Westin Calgary Hotel. At that time, the event featured fewer than 100 artists, and no one could have predicted the incredible journey it would embark on. After a few years at The Westin Calgary, the festival’s growing popularity necessitated a move to the Stampede grounds to accommodate the expanding crowds.

Tattoo 200hours
Promo poster for 200 Hours: The Paul Jeffries Documentary.

The 20th-anniversary edition of the Calgary Tattoo and Arts Festival was not just about tattoos but an extravaganza of creativity. With multiple vendors and entertainment options, attendees were treated to a spectacular showcase of artistry. One of the festival’s highlights was the premiere of “200 Hours: The Paul Jeffries Documentary,” a film chronicling the remarkable 40-year career of renowned tattoo artist Paul Jeffries.

According to Steve Peace, this festival is a visual feast for tattoo enthusiasts and the best place for those considering getting tattoos. “If you’re thinking about getting a tattoo, that’s the best place because some of the best artists in the city, or most of them, are actually at the show.”

The days when people would walk into a tattoo shop and select a design off the wall are long gone. Today’s tattoo enthusiasts can share their ideas and visions with the artists. They can even explore unique pre-drawn designs, ensuring their chosen method is fantastic.

Steve Peace refers to the Calgary Tattoo and Arts Festival as a source of inspiration for artists and attendees. “We just want the tattoo show to be fun and everyone to have a great experience.”

The festival not only celebrates the art of tattooing but also the creative spirit of the community. It serves as a platform for artists to showcase their talent and for enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the ever-evolving world of ink. Over the past two decades, this event has become integral to Calgary’s cultural landscape, drawing people from all walks of life to experience the magic of tattoos and artistic expression.

As the Calgary Tattoo and Arts Festival looks back on its 20-year journey, it’s evident that this celebration of ink has grown far beyond what anyone could have imagined during its humble beginnings. It stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of tattoos as a form of personal and artistic expression, showcasing the incredible talent of tattoo artists worldwide.

In its 20th year, the festival remains a vibrant, evolving, and exciting event that inspires and unites the tattoo community. Whether you’re an experienced ink enthusiast or someone contemplating your first tattoo, the Calgary Tattoo and Arts Festival is a haven of creativity, artistry, and endless inspiration.

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