Trendspotting at the 2009 NYC Tattoo Convention


Hi folks.  I’ve selected a tune to accompany today’s Open House.  Just click play on the YouTube box located in the sidebar.

If you read last week’s Friday Roundup, you already know I’ve been contemplating getting a tattoo, so I was both surprised and tickled (p)ink  when my longtime friend (and past Open House star Matt*) invited me to the 2009 NYC Tattoo Convention.  “But why did you have to cover it?” you might be whining.  I’ll tell you why; effectively immediately, I’m making Strange Closets a design blog about people . . . with tattoos.  If I can’t in some way bring either tattoos or superheros into a post, I will not write said post.  ‘Nuff said (as Marvel Comics CEO Stan Lee used to say in his monthly Bullpen Bulletin).

Get back here; I’m kidding!! ‘

OK, OK, ’nuff B.S.*  Actually, I hadn’t intended to cover a tattoo convention, so I was surprised that the un-inked Matt had planned a day at the tatt-show with his gal Jaime (pronounced Jamie, not Hymie).   Jaime has several tatts including a  gorgeous, Nightmare Before Christmas tattoo that covers her entire left arm (I’m pretty sure they call that a sleeve tattoo, but I don’t think New York has Google yet), and she wanted to enter it into the Best Color Tattoo contest.

But what’s this have to do with design?

Continued . . .


Jaime's tattoo is beautifully done, and she was photographed for several tattoo magazines during the convention. Congrats Jaime.

Most obviously, there’s no shortage of Decoratus Absurdum at these kind of shows, but more importantly this is the kind of place designers, marketers and fashionistas go to get ideas and generate new trends.  While the Jeffrey Dahmer aprons I spotted probably won’t show up on the Crate and Barrel registry, skulls, snakes and circus-imagery, which are commonly used in tattoo art, have already cycled through interiors.  And in fashion, the Ed Hardy phenomenon offers a more literal interpretation.

My guess (and hope) is that home design will continue to follow fashion, and we’ll see tattoo-style imagery (preferably the vintage stuff, which I just adore) used in less subtle ways – on pillows, as art or perhaps even upholstery.  Tattoo art has a visceral, almost primitive energy that will work well with many styles.  Imagine the interesting tension created by a flaming heart print hanging above the bed in a slick DWR-style bedroom with clean lines and neutral colors.  But the same image would look sexy, sultry and even a little dangerous hanging in an opulent, bedroom with rich colors, damask bedding and velvet floor-to-ceiling window drapes.

Tattoos force us to actively contemplate our personal aesthetic in ways that even purchasing a sofa cannot.  After all, you can sell the sofa on Craig’s List or drop it off at the Brown Elephant, but no matter how bad that inked thorn armband looks, only the most desperate will lop off the whole limb to be rid of it (although from what I hear that might be less painful than the standard tattoo removal process).  Ultimately, choosing a symbol will sharpen your personal aesthetic and in the long run, make you a better designer or design-o-phile.

So just do it . . . but I probably won’t (I can’t even commit to wallpaper).






When I expressed just a touch of surprise that this couple was lovingly doting on their two small children, Matt said, "I feel bad for them. The mom's a devil and the dad's a devil, so the kids are probably going to be devils."













This magician was AMAZING!!!!!! He made that table float and ended the act by channeling the King



* Don’t worry past Open House stars, Matt and I have been friends since second grade, so I will not be knocking on your door, knapsack in hand, (unless I need a place to stay).

* I love Marvel Comics.  I read Stan Lee.  I actually met Stan Lee once.  And you Mr. Tate, are no Stan Lee.

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8 Responses to “Trendspotting at the 2009 NYC Tattoo Convention”

  1. Hey Tate—-Stop being a wuss & go for it! I don’t love the really bright color tattoos but the old style ones are absolutely beautiful.

  2. That was an experience (to say the least). Ha. That first pic of my sleeve came out gorgeous :) I stole it for facebook. Otherwise you managed to get me making the weirdest faces ever;)
    Thanks for coming with on Saturday!

  3. check out mitch o’connell show that just opened at packer-schopf gallery… 942 west lake….
    incredible way over the top tattoo imagery as art… the gallery always has interesting shows, and this one is among my favorites. you might find an image in one of the paintings that would be just right for you !!!!

  4. But honestly, Tate, all I want for a tattoo is a little galaxy just below my left collarbone where it attaches to my shoulder joint… why is it so hard to find such a thing?

  5. Hi… you should come in and see our current shows…. ? nothing is on the site yet… but worth coming in. Mitch O’Connell is great and So is Steve Seeley….. and i forget if you saw the cut books…. More soon. aron

  6. Do it do it do it! I’ll hold your hand!

  7. Hey Tate, I just met you today at Steven Alan!
    Just wanted to say I love the tat pics, especially your friend with the Nightmare before xmas tat and the “devil couple” Amazing.
    I’m excited to see mine up:) Take care.