I recently sat down and spoke to Gabe, owner of TattooNow.com and Off the Map Tattoo, about his latest adventure, Paradise Tattoo Gathering, taking place this weekend (September 17th – 20th.) The gathering is held at the Jiminy Peaks resort in Western Massachusetts, and is an hour drive from the nearest airport. Seriously. On top of the beautiful location and secluded surroundings, Gabe has arranged for a number of the top tattoo artists from around the world to come and participate in this gathering. Truly a unique event, this goes way beyond your typical convention. Gabe provided further details during our interview below.
I think there are a few things that make the gathering different. We have a real focus on responsible tattoo education, a unique setting, and a hand picked high quality artist lineup. The resort is tucked away in the hills of western Massachusetts, very different from the usual convention hotel in a bigger city. The out of the way, quiet nature of the venue makes it ideal for hosting seminars, workshops, discussion panels and such. We are honored to host some of the most talented artists in the world, but because of the small size of the resort and the network we have from our work with TattooNOW and Off the Map Tattoo we have to and can be very selective of the artists tattooing. We work hard to bring the best tattooers to a great location to share with other tattooers responsibly. There are very few distractions… except for the alpine slide and roller coaster.
TS: Overall, what do you expect the attendance to be like?
Full of quality tattooers who want to better themselves, artists who want to be tattooers, dedicated tattoo collectors, and some curious tattoo newbies. There will probably be more people than last year–hopefully! Due to the nature of the show, everyone who attended was pretty serious about tattooing. They also weren’t afraid of the woods and could find places that are out of the way. I expect the same, maybe more!
TS: How many of those are collectors, and how many of those are tattoo artist?
Last year and this year we sold more artists passes than collectors, the ratio was probably 65/45-ish. The show really focuses on attracting tattoo artists, but of course collectors are welcome.
TS: What tattoo artists will be tattooing at the gathering?
We’re very honored to have Stephane Chaudesaigues, Bob Tyrrell, Nick Baxter, Mike Cole, Jeff Gogue, Russ Abbott, Jeff Ensminger, Nikko, Mike Devries… I feel horrible to leave anyone out but I can’t really list all the artists working! It is truly amazing being able to host such a group of tattooers.
The complete list can be found on our website.
I’m pretty excited to see what comes out of the Dan Dos Santos seminar; his vision is quite fantastic and effects very real. Of course Guy Aitchison bringing his two-day intensive workshop has generated a lot of buzz. Through TattooNOW I watched a bunch of artists whose work I had followed for years shift dramatically after they took his workshop last year in Columbus with the Hell City guys. Everyone who took the seminar kicked their tattoos into high gear, really amazing and it’s exciting that Guy is bringing it to the gathering. He is also offering a free one on Saturday morning, with a presentation and a Q&A session. Tom Strom, Russ Abbott, Shawn Barber, Jeff Ensminger, Mario’s photo seminar… they all are registering people every day. The Pulse machine workshop is sold out, and as of September 12th the Bob Tyrrell and Joshua Carlton seminars have closed out pre-registration but will be taking 10-20 more artists at the show. We definitely recommend that artists make plans and pre-register, but last year I think the only seminar to actually turn people away was Joe Capobianco’s. So if artists show up and get there early they can still get into the seminars. Here is the list and any with a PayPal or a “Buy Now” link still have space for pre-registration available.
TS: I noticed that several seminars are opened to everyone. Which seminars can non-tattoo artist attend?
We have two discussion panels that are open to the public, and a few seminars. One panel is about talking clients into getting good tattoos. We figure it is best for clients who are interested to hear what that process is like, so hopefully that can skip right to the educated clients. These ideas are also great for future apprentices to learn prior to screwing anyone up. The other panel is about the apprenticeship process the best ways to learn to tattoo. Best way to get advice about how to learn responsibly is directly from a group of artists who have learned and taught the art of tattooing. Sean Barber and Dan Dos Santos’ workshops are about painting and drawing original art, so apprentices and non-tattooers are welcome to participate.
There is a world of difference between being responsible with the art of tattooing and simply closing doors. Seminars about how to paint better, or imagine things better, or the difference between bad and good tattoos, and even bloodborne pathogens shouldn’t be secrets. Dan Dos Santos and Shawn Barber have been teaching art to non-tattooers for a long time, so it would feel silly to exclude people from their workshops. Now, seminars that involve any technical tattooing details, those are for artists only… I don’t want to help anyone who would tattoo people without someone real sharp looking over their shoulder, and ultimately taking responsibility for the tattoo. For me the apprenticeship has to do with someone ultimately taking responsibility for the apprentices’ tattoos.
TS: I also noticed a handful of the seminars were free. Was this your idea or the host of the seminar? Why did you choose to do that?
It’s up to the host of the seminar. Some of the free ones will ultimately sell things to the attendees to make some dough. The more informative their seminar, the more likely folks are to get involved with the teachers’ businesses. The TattooNOW seminar (I also run TattooNOW, a company that powers over 90 tattoo websites) will walk artists through the internet tattoo landscape, and ultimately explain how TattooNOW can help artists take advantage of it. We have had lots of artists ask questions, this will be a place to answer them for 20-30 people at once. While we will be giving out some great tips and tricks, we can make our money if people choose us as their website developer.
TS: Not related to the gathering, who was the last tattoo artist to tattoo you?
Yang Zhuo from Bejing tattooed my upper arm/half sleeve at Hell City in Columbus last May… (I think!)
TS: Can we get a picture?
It’s not finished, but I try to keep most of my tattoos off the net. Sorry, no photo!
TS: Any last words?
Not for another 40-50 years I hope!
Thanks to Gabe for taking a minute out of his hectic schedule and answering a few questions.