Tattoo artist Nathan Evans inks an owl onto the back of Sherry Lindow, of Toledo, on Saturday during the Motor City Tattoo Expo at Renaissance Center in Detroit. (Steve Perez / The Detroit News)
Detroit— It was like standing in the center of a bee hive.
A constant buzzing without gaps filled the conference room at the Marriott hotel at the Renaissance Centerdowntown. But the only stings that the visitors were feeling were the rapid stabs of sharp needles pressing ink into their skin.
The Motor City Tattoo Expo brought together dozens of renowned tattoo artists, who spent nearly all day Saturday immortalizing their designs on the body parts of willing ink enthusiasts.
Artists were packed into the small space, each with their own area to work. Many others sold t-shirts, tattooing instruments and accessories and some even did facepaint for younger children accompanying their parents who were getting the real thing.
The designs ranged from a small ankle design, to complex and colorful creations covering an entire back.
For the faithfully inked, the show was a chance to express themselves and their personalities.
“Tattoos for me, they show personality for an individual,” said Jeff Warren, who just finished having an owl tattooed on the top of his right hand, his 18th tattoo. “To me, it symbolizes protection, intuition and a little mystery.”
The 27-year-old Westland resident came to the expo knowing exactly who he wanted to design his tattoo: Baltimore artist Halo who owns Black Lotus Tattoos and has been coming to the event in Detroit for years.
“It gives me an opportunity to learn and see what other people are doing,” said Halo, whose appearance is a striking testament to self expression: blond Mohawk, leopard spots inked onto one side of his shaved head, tiger stripes on the other side and more tattooed patterns around his eyes.
Halo, who charges $150 per hour session, says he draws his designs freehand and then goes back and tattoos, meaning each piece different.
“It’s about being yourself and coming into yourself,” he said. “The good thing about it that as an artist, if you are able to create things on the fly, you are getting something unique.”
Jennifer Kidd was looking for something unique when she had an artist tattoo an intricate figure of a woman she referred to as a “flower goddess” on her upper right arm.
The Brownstown resident has been getting tattoos since she was 17 and considers herself “a walking canvass.”
“I love art to begin with and I love that you can express yourself and be outside the box, not the everyday,” said Kidd. “Not being how society thinks you should be.”
She’d just had some work done on the arm tattoo, including adding some roses to the design, and she’ll need more sessions to finish it. She says when people see her numerous tattoos, they sometimes ask her if she thinks she’ll regret it when she is older.
“I’m going to be wrinkly anyway,” she said. “I might as well enjoy my body now.”