Baxter's Blog


Posted in Road Trip Stuff, Videos by misterroadtripper on May 15, 2010

Note: To see Video Interviews that we did at the N.T.A. Tattoo Convention in Seattle with Jojo Ackermann, Dana Brunson, Vyvyn, Mr. G, Colin Dale, Tony Edwards, Vancourt Richards, Steve Franklin and Lyle Tuttle… CLICK THE ICON.


Presented every year in a different location, this was the second time this decade that Aaron and Melissa Bell of Slave to the Needle hosted Don and Flo Makofske’s NTA Convention in Seattle, Washington. Held at the sumptuous and enormous Doubletree Hotel a few blocks from the SeaTac (Seattle/Tacoma) Airport, the NTA events are considerably cozier and more focused than your average tattoo gathering. The only true “convention”—in that it is the official yearly meeting of a worldwide membership—the floor plan is a simplified racetrack loop, rather than the usual labyrinth of crowded aisles and separate rooms that are part of the huge mega-events. The attendees, then, are either members or local tattoo enthusiasts who heard about the show through word-of-mouth or minimal advertising (the public is only allowed on the convention floor on Saturday and Sunday). There were maybe sixty booths, as opposed to, for example, Mario Barth’s tattoo extravaganza at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, which boasted seven hundred or so for the thousand-plus vendors and artists.

The NTA event is spread out over four days, to allow for various meetings, get-togethers, seminars (which are the best in the tattoo world, by the way) and contests for members only. There is also a roast on Sunday evening, in which a dais of friends verbally skewer the victim, in this case, popular tattoo artist Shawn Anderson from Elecric Dragonland in Hopkins, Minnesota. One exciting development was the naming of the recipient of this year’s esteemed Terry Wrigley Award (for outstanding service to both the industry and fellow members). The winner and this year’s champions were non other than Mr. G  and Madame Chinchilla from Triangle Tattoo in Ft. Bragg, California.

The Nationals is a relatively conservative and quiet convention (no rock bands or piercing suspensions, for example), but it is always enjoyable, due to the roster of world-class attendees. I can’t recall everyone that I saw, but the names that come to mind, aside from the artists that I interviewed, are Aaron and Melissa Bell, of course, the nattily-dressed Thomas Lockhart, Tony Olivas, Jack “Fuckin” Rudy, Brian Everett, the shadow-of-her-former-self Pat Fish, Deana Lippens, Shane O’Neill, Dennis Dwyer, C.W. Eldridge and Harriet Cohen, Peggy Sucher, Billy Tinney from Tattoo magazine and Bill Funk and his wife, Ms. Anna.

On the downside, tattooist Eric the Red was passing around an event poster for people to sign and send to Patty Kelley of Avalon Tattoo in San Diego, California. Having contracted hepatitis C from being accidentally poked by an errant tattoo needle some time ago, Patty is quite ill and waiting for a liver transplant. The address to send Patty a get-well card is Avalon Tattoo, 1035 Garnet Avenue, San Diego, California 92109. May our well wishes comfort and protect our dear Patty.

It is always good to see old friends at the Nationals. There are several new faces, of course, but mostly there are fellow members who I have enjoyed chatting with over the last decade and a half. Plus, the place isn’t jammed with looky-loos who wouldn’t know a good tattoo if they fell over it. It’s a good group, dedicated to the art form and happy to travel great distances to attend their yearly celebration.

—Bob Baxter

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