Inaugural tattoo show makes its mark in Okanagan

Hundreds visited Parkinson Recreation Centre Saturday to check out the work of some of western Canada's top tattoo artists.

Mike Sperling gets ink done on his leg by Nick Matovich of Vernon's Five Fathoms Tattoo at the 2013 Okanagan Tattoo Show held in Parkinson Recreation Centre Saturday.

Mike Sperling gets ink done on his leg by Nick Matovich of Vernon's Five Fathoms Tattoo at the 2013 Okanagan Tattoo Show held in Parkinson Recreation Centre Saturday.

Mike Sperling looked relatively relaxed as Nick Matovich tattooed the back of his right leg Saturday at the 2013 Okanagan Tattoo Show.

Although Sperling’s body already has “about 20” tattoos on it, he admitted his newest ink was causing him a bit of pain.

“It pretty much sucks every time, man,” Sperling responded when asked if he’s gotten used to the feeling yet.

But for Sperling, as well as the hundreds of others who have visited the tattoo convention that began Friday at Parkinson Recreation Centre, the short-term pain is well worth it.

Rich Handford, owner of Kapala Tattoo in Winnipeg, said his body might “have room for one more tattoo.”

Handford got his feet wet in the tattooing industry 14 years ago after realizing a brainless job wasn’t offering him much fulfillment.

“I met some other tattoo artists who liked my work and offered me the opportunity,” said Handford.

Since then he has grown as an artist and created a portfolio of body art that ranges from detailed personal portraits of daughters and mothers to intricate designs of skulls, snakes, hawks and even Frankenstein.

Handford explained while every image he creates may not have a particular meaning for him, it is likely something of great importance for the person he is tattooing.

“Imagery is powerful; the meaning behind it is subjective.

“The most mundane symbol can have a tremendous amount of meaning for someone.”

For Handford, the 2013 Okanagan Tattoo Show has been an opportunity to network, keep up-to-date on current products and techniques and be inspired by some of the artists from other shops, working around him.

Jeff Nowatzki, one of the event’s organizers, said this weekend’s convention features a few of the top 10 tattoo artists in Canada.

Although ink appointments with the top artists are booking up quickly, Nowatzki said visitors have been given the opportunity to approach various booths, share their ideas with the artists and get their tattoos scheduled for some point during the weekend.

But, Nowatzki noted, the inaugural event is about more than just tattoos.

“We decided: Let’s make it about art, let’s make it about culture, let’s make it about more than just ink,” said Nowatzki.

He added the goal is to make the show something families can bring their kids to.

“It’s not about the stigma…tattoos are for bad, criminal people. It’s open for everyone, we really wanted to make it a community event.”

To accommodate the family aspect, the convention is raising money for KidSport Canada. In return, the charity is hosting children’s activities in the field behind Parkinson Recreation Centre Saturday and Sunday.

But along with all the kid-friendly entertainment and games, the event is also squeezing in entertainment geared toward adults on the main stage.

With a burlesque show, a pin up contest and a bikini contest also on the entertainment line-up, Nowatzki admitted it has been a challenge to make the event appeal to all demographics.

“It’s been really good to see lots of families (today).”

Nowatzki and the other organizers are determined to make the Okanagan Tattoo Show an annual event.

“The plan is to expand. We want to get a bit more variety, a bit more international flavour. And we’ll see if we can get a few bigger name artists.”

Twitter: @PatersonWade


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