I’m very excited to announce that I will be visiting Europe for the first time this March! I will be headed to Corsica, Paris, Rotterdam and Amsterdam before heading home to my bulldog 🙂 Looking forward to the adventures (and booze) we will find along the way! I’ll be posting as I find wifi….stay tuned.
On a personal note, this is a huge deal for me because I deal with anxiety, specifically when I fly. I’m headed to a hypnotist this week, as well as my physician to help me get a handle on my fear of motion sickness and loss of control. Anyone else conquer a similar anxiety? It’s not easy, but it is doable and I’m lucky enough to have a lot of support from my brother as well as my husband and immediate family. We only go around once, don’t waste the trip–not a bad way to start my fortieth year!
Tattoo Conventions are a huge business, and show numbers are growing exponentially worldwide. Promoters compete for the best weekends, and to host the biggest names in tattooing. Larger cities and markets often have the highest regarded shows- Paris and London are long running, premiere events that artists try to plan their schedules around. Serious tattoo collectors often follow favorite artists on social media, and travel hundreds of miles for a sitting with an artist they might not otherwise have access to. Sites like Facebook and Instagram help artists to gain exposure internationally, and connect first hand with potential clients. So, what happens at these things? Why would a tattoo artist go out of their comfort zone and hit the road?
NETWORKING- Conventions are a great place to expand your circle. The best of the best choose only particular shows- if you’re good enough to get in, you’re hanging with the top percentage of artists practicing the craft.
Meeting other artists and connecting on a personal level sets up future growth potential. ‘Guest spots’ are essentially invites to work at another shop for a small amount of time, which enable artists to learn from each other and work in a different space. Give and take to build and grow within the circle.
TATTOOING- YES, tattoo artists tattoo at tattoo conventions. Seems like common sense, right? Artists pay for a booth that has all of the necessities to work,- tables, chairs, electricity, and basic supplies are provided (paper towels, electricity, etc.). Artists vary in setup: some bring a banner and their equipment, others can enjoy more showmanship and decorate the booth with a bit more flare. Convention promoters for high end shows focus on safety, for clients as well as artists. If you want to get tattooed by a particular artist, it’s always a good idea to communicate with them first! Email usually works best, and setting up an appoint will guarantee that you’re not left out of getting tattooed. Saturday is usually the busiest day of any show, so plan accordingly.
EXPOSURE- Getting out there builds a tattoo artist’s name as well as client base. The more people that see you on the road (artists and clients alike), the more familiar you become within the tattoo industry. Magazines and media cover larger shows, and now it’s pretty common to see TV cameras too. Nothing like a good freak show! 🙂
TRAVEL- If you had a job that allowed you to see the world, and it required your dedication and energy and study to continue to improve and grow? Would you? Tattoo artists take advantage of these opportunities, absorbing reference and details from touring like sponges. Artwork is a living process, and the work these artists produce is even more so. Seeing this great big world adds a level of a different consciousness, and a tie to the world history of tattooing.
LOCATIONS- So, where the hell are these tattoo conventions? Damn near everywhere! If it’s a major city, there is at least one major show. If there are no shows near you, chances are you’re not living in a metropolitan area! Want to go to one? TRAVEL!! Drive, fly, however….don’t stagnate and wait for one of these shows to come to you in the stix. Make a weekend of it, spend a day at the show, and then enjoy the area you’re in! That’s where I came up with the BoozyLife–conventions are fun, but unless you’re getting tattooed CONVENTIONS ARE BORING AFTER A FEW HOURS. YOU CAN ONLY WALK SO MANY LAPS AROUND THE FLOOR BEFORE YOUR EYES GLAZE OVER. Head to a city, catch a convention, and see what that particular city has to offer! I focus on mostly wineries and booze, but tattoo artists LOVE to eat at the highest rated gourmet restaurants– also a tradition for Sunday night dinner at the wrap of the show. If you see a gang of heavily tattooed, usually slightly loud men and women headed into your restaurant after eight on a Sunday night? LET THEM IN. They will make it worth your while (servers LOVE these guys!)
Now that you have all that info, where is a show near you? Well, we landed in Ithaca because it’s rural, but about four hours central to several hubs we use a lot. (NYC, Toronto, Montreal). Rochester is now home to the Roc City Tattoo Expo, best upstate NY convention by far– this year May 1st-3rd! http://www.roccitytattooexpo.com
We also use the website http://www.worldtattooevents.com This comprehensive calendar lists conventions in the US, Europe, Canada, and damn near everywhere else in the world. No matter where you are, Waldo….there’s a show (and probably a winery or two) worth checking out. Keep reading BOOZYLIFE to see where we end up next…catch you soon kids!
I have been so busy with prepping for all of Eddie’s travels, I haven’t posted about our trip to NIX 2014 in Toronto! We went up just to see friends and socialize, no tattooing (yeah, right!), and it was a lovely weekend of friends and artwork, plus a lot of walking laps. I ran into another tattoo wife extraordinaire, Mrs. Sara Winterbottom, on her way to a gallery show she was featured in! Exciting to see a strong tattoo wife getting some attention too 😉
Sara is the CEO of Citrus City Tattoo and runs the tattoo shop along with her hubby and tattooer Keith Winterbottom. She and her man were on their way to an art gallery show featuring tattooed moms with their children–what a great idea! Sara and her lovely little girl River Jean sat for portraits, and the images are absolutely gorgeous. I’m including a few shots of Sara with her pics hanging in the gallery in Toronto. The love in their eyes is the focal point, and the tattoo work becomes secondary and softened. Tattooed women are fierce, independent, and sometimes loving moms as well. Beautiful, and I hope more photographers take note! Cory Vanderploeg is a photographer based in Toronto, and you can check out his website here: Cory Vanderploeg Photography.
This past weekend, I was lucky enough to visit our tattoo family at Good Point Tattoos in Oakville, Canada for more work! The shop is owned by our good friend and tattooer Cory Ferguson, who specializes in dotwork, blackwork, and a continual assault of puns. I was there as a client this time, for the continuation of my sleeve, and for collaboration background of my phoenix backpiece. Cory’s geometric work on my left arm now extends across my shoulders, and will eventually scatter my chest as well. My husband Eddie Molina is collaborating with him, and added the smoke tendrils that swirl through the geometric pattern in this last session. I had two incredible artists work on me for several hours this weekend, and I’m so excited to show off their progress! Everything is really starting to tie together, and I dare say I look like a heavily tattooed woman…at least, from the back!
After all of that tattooing, I needed a DRINK! The weather screamed for an Ice Wine tour, so after two days of needle poking sessions, I grabbed my purse (NOT over my shoulder….OUCH) and we hit a few wineries on the way home to the States.
First stop, Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery. The beautiful tasting room has high ceilings and an elegant feel, and I’m struck by the views. I really love grape fields, and they are no less stunning in winter. The tasting bar crew was friendly and helpful, even during a slow Monday afternoon. I tasted their Vidal Icewine 2006, as well as the Cabernet Franc Icewine 2011. The Vidal was an Ontario Wine Awards Bronze winner, silky apricot and pineapple, sweet with a bright acidity. It was fresh and crisp, with a finish of honey. The Cabernet Franc 2011 was a very different ice wine. Aged in Stainless and French Oak, the red was much less sweet, and had a lot of smokey character. Oak balances with strawberry, honey, and even a touch of currant and citrus on the end. Paired beautifully with a sample of 70% dark chocolate.
Next, we hit Fielding Estate Winery and their Wine Lodge tasting room, complete with fireplace and furry blankets in the loungers. Recognized as one of Canada’s Top 10 Wineries in 2013 according to their press, owner Curtis Fielding was named 2012 Grape Grower of the Year by the Grape Growers of Ontario Association. The view of their fields includes wind turbines, used to help warm the vines with moving air. The bar was pouring tastings of their 2012 Riesling Ice Wine. Aged in stainless steel and neutral French Oak, the color was a lovely medium gold. A sweet intensity was followed by a much softer light mouthfeel, the lingering finish was quite delicate.
Our last Canadian stop was Rosewood Estates Winery – Home. This is essentially where I dropped the ball and the Ice Wine tour became the Merlot stop. What can I say? I LOVE REDS. I tried to stick with the plan. I did. But then, I saw the 2010 Merlot Reserve on the tasting menu. I asked for a pour. “We’re sold out, but I still have a bottle to taste. Would you still like to…?”
“YES PLEASE,” was my answer. Ohhhh, yes.
Winemakers Notes 2010 Merlot RESERVE: Picked by hand from low yielding vines, sorted first in the vineyard and then at the winery selecting only the very best clusters. The clusters were gently destemmed then separated into small fermentaiton totes. The intact berries were cold macerated for 5 days then were warmed up to allow the natural yeasts to start fermentation, which lasted 3 1⁄2 weeks. Manual punch-downs were perfromed twice daily. Select French oak barrels were chosen for this Merlot, spending 15 months in both new and seasoned barrels, each barrel taking on unique characteristics. Final filtration was completed the day of bottling.
I LOVED it. I was sad there was no more, and it had sold out. I have told countless tasters from behind the bar-“get it while we have it, once it’s gone it’s gone.” Then, something amazing happened. Our taster started pulling tasting boxes apart in the back room, looking for ONE bottle for yours truly. SHE FOUND ONE! I took it home happily, and I ended up with a bottle of Merlot on the Ice Wine tour. Great customer service, on top of a beautifully made wine. We made a break for the US border, it was getting late and I was feeling fine.
We made it into the States and off of the Thruway, and I decided to drive down Route 89 along Cayuga Lake for our last stretch of the journey. It was almost closing time, but I made one last stop-Sheldrake Point – Sheldrake Point Vineyards. I love their winery, I love the tasting staff, their wines are delicious…it’s a local jewel. I had also heard fantastic things about their 2013 Late Harvest Ice Wine, and had to make that the grand finale of our trek. I’m SO glad that we DID–that was our favorite Ice Wine of the day! The best description is ‘winter sunshine in a glass’. Fruity, acidic, sweet, balanced…but MORE. Bright. Gorgeous mouthfeel, silky and lasting intensity. It won BEST AMERICAN RIESLING at Canberra International Riesling Challenge 2013, and was awarded Double Gold from the New York Food & Wine Classic 2013…just in case you don’t trust this palate of mine. Nice to know it’s less than 45 minutes from beautiful Ithaca, NY…or as we call it, HOME. It’s so easy to drink Local here…Ithaca really is Gorges. 🙂
This blog is usually about wine, tattoos, travel, and conventions…but not today. I have a freshly razor styled head of hair, and I feel like my funky new cut calls for some blue, maybe a little purple…but am I too adult to be rocking the Tank Girl choptop? Weigh in below, this could happen soon!
Looks like my husband finally had some time to sit on the OTHER side of the machine. I’ll be getting my international tattoo artist man back with new knuckles, courtesy of lettering artist legend Boog Star! The two of them toured Barcelona together, and this tattoo was the wrap up for this leg of the journey. Check out Boog Star’s tattoo site for more if his lettering and tattoo art. Can’t wait to see hubby in a couple of days…roughneck gentlemen with knuckle tattoos are sexy as hell…
Our journey to Halifax started with a nineteen hour drive, putting us at our hotel roughly seven hours before our room would be inhabitable. Glam. Thankfully, tattoo family is a compassionate family, and we crashed for hours at the apartment of another tattooer located in town. (Matt O shout out!! Thank You for taking us in!) Much later, we checked in to our hotel, went to the hall to drop things off, and I went back and collapsed into what looked like a partial coma. Woke up after a few much needed, quality sleep hours and worked on finding local things to keep me well occupied into the weekend ahead. The first thing I noticed was how much more there seemed to DO in Halifax than in the past. Lots of local boutiques and interesting little bistro style eateries now inhabit the area. Neighborhoods that were depressed a few years ago have been rebuilt and showcase trendy coffee shops and boutiques. The artists are taking their space back, and the locals are enjoying the resurgence.
We have a couple of amazing clients & friends, that will always steer is into the perfect location for whatever we want to see or do while in the area. Mary, Ghandy, Bruce & Joseph, thank you for your unbelievable hospitality! Too short of a visit this year, we’ll be back…
Our first morning in town when we could function was Saturday, so we hit the showers earlyish and drove to the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market. Local produce, meats, cheeses, and artisnal vendors are located inside a very modern structure, but maintain a very locavore feel. I tried a few locally produced wines, and even a single malt whiskey, without leaving the second floor! Great place for either a quick bite or to waste away an afternoon while he works. Saturday morning was packed, but that is also when there are the most vendors available. Growing season had just really started, and the early produce selection of asparagus, beets, greens, and garlic scapes were plentiful already.
Back to the second floor! Saturdays feature local wine and spirit tastings, so I was excited to get in there and taste a few things. Blomidon Estate Winery is located on the shore in Annapolis Valley. The scenic oceanside vineyard is committed to growing grapes and producing wines that are 100% Nova Scotia sourced. While I didn’t have time to go tour the vineyard, it looks to be in an absolutely beautiful spot, nestled by the sea. I tried the 2011 Seyval Blanc, a clean, grassy off dry white that would be delicious with local seafood. The 2011 Ridge Reserve is a red blend, utilizing Baco and Sangiovese. Cooler climate grapes I’m very familiar with, to be sure!
Glenora Distillery are the proud makers of Glen Breton Rare Canadian Single Malt Whiskey, the only single malt produced in Canada. Located in Cape Brenton, NS, the distillery recreates traditional Scottish style Scotch production using copper pot stills, then they age the whiskey over ten years in oak barrels. Smooth, silky, and caramel colored, this luxurious mouthfeel lingered long after a sip. Gold medal award winner, 95points, 2011 International Review of Spirits, Chicago. The distillery also features a beautiful inn, award winning menu, and traditional pub on property, so there would be no need to leave the Celtic music and revelry behind!
Closer to the event, Relish Gourmet Burgers was close and a pre show takeout score. Just a few doors down from the Atlantica Hotel, the popular gourmet burger spot uses quality ingredients and cooks your burger to order. Names like L.A. is my Lady (avacado, goat cheese, and roasted peppers) for specialty burgers are corny to order, but we were the envy of the show. Nothing like walking in with fresh burgers while everyone else eats arena food-hot dogs, nachos and beer will only keep you alive for so long, and happy even less of a measure of time.
The Maritime Tattoo Convention is a show we try to do every year. The Halifax tattoo community is a dedicated bunch that treat this weekend as second only to Christmas. These folks are serious about their tattoos, artists book up, tickets sell out. VIP weekend passes include three days of admission plus a ticket for the evening VIP booze cruise around Halifax Harbor-always a guaranteed shitshow. This year, most of our group sat on the outside deck, happily watching the rowdy (and slightly desperate) antics of a TV ‘freakshow’ act. I saw too many parts of the tail wearing Belladonna this weekend to ever want to voluntarily make eye contact; while shooting darts out of your pussy is a trick that will get TONS of attention, flashing titties on a boat and making out with other tattoo fans is a little high school desperate. Maybe she was trying to inspire us, the weather was chilly, and our group was pretty low key. Either way, cell phones took titty pictures, we made it back to dock, and another year if the boat was in the books. One final day of tattooing, and my husband could have what he really wanted-an end of the convention, banging steak dinner.
We chose Cut Steakhouse as our after show celebration spot, called in our reservations, and made it on time; no small feat for a group of roughly twenty five tattoo artists and a couple of friends and spouses.
Once drinks were ordered, the steak carts were introduced to the table, and our server gave us the low down on beef selection-Alberta free range, USDA, locally pastured Nova Scotia, or Austrailian Waygu (similar to Kobe). I went for NS strip loin, trying to stick with the local theme.
Our meal was very good, and although I’ve had comprable steaks for much less money, I’ve also had worse for way more. Our starters were all over-the oysters Rockefeller appetizer was a disappointment, but the beef marrow served in bone was a hit. I was disappointed that the bones were cleared before I could order shots of whiskey…Bourdaine had recently done a segment wherein the finished bone was used as a booze’luge’ server for a liquor shot. I had several volunteers willing to give it a go, too….maybe next time!
The wine list was well rounded, but nothing specifically local was featured. I tasted a Pinot from British Columbia, an Argentinian Malbec, and an Aussie Shiraz. All three were delicious, but we settled on the Barrel Select, Norton 2009 Malbec from Argentina. Something about Argentinian reds, they really make wines built to handle a beautiful piece of beef. Cowboys know. It paired wonderfully with our steaks, just enough pepper and heat. Post-convention steak happiness had been achieved.
Our last day in town, we tried to eat lobster for every meal. Lobster omlettes were followed by lobster rolls for lunch. We filled a cooler with fiddleheads for the freezer, and hit the ground with the wheels spinning. See ya soon, Hali! Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market Maritime Tattoo Festival 2013 Blomidon Winery Glenora Distillery Cut Steakhouse
High end tattoo artists, as a community, are the most well traveled people in the world. Premiere conventions are located world wide, and more appear every year. Milan, London, NYC, Paris, Amsterdam, Montreal…all have an annual tattoo convention, and reputable artists are often extended an invitation to travel. Networking, recognition, and reputation are all created and maintained through working select shows.
Tattoo Conventions are often a three day event, spanning a Friday-Sunday weekend. Artists flood into town, set up at the venue, tattoo for three days, and tear down. The marathon of work often ends with a celebratory Sunday night steak dinner; a chance for artists and their significant others to socialize, imbibe, and talk shop. And now, a view from the table:
*Tattoo artists will wear black tee shirts and cargo shorts to any restaurant. They might get disapproving looks from other guests. They will not care. Three eighteen hour days have all lead up to the meal ahead. Stare if you would like, just feed us.
*We sit late, so be prepared to stay. Some of us only see each other once a year, so this time together is precious and short. If you’re our server, you’re in for the long haul…BUT WE GUARANTEE THE TIP WILL BE WORTH IT. Have fun with us, you can tell the stories to fellow servers for months. There WILL be stories. Promise.
*Tattooers at this level love to enjoy the finer things, especially in food and drink. WE KNOW WHAT WE’RE TALKING ABOUT. Don’t let the body art fool you, most of our crew have pretty refined palates. Most would rather drink an Argentinian Malbec with dinner, than do tequila shots off a party girl at the bar. Not that that doesn’t happen occasionally, but it’s time and place appropriate…of course.
*We’re loud. Not rowdy, flip the table and punch someone in the face loud, but jovial. There will be laughter, calls between tables, and musical chairs so everyone gets a chance for very valuable face time. Sorry again to the servers, if you bring food we’ll figure out where it goes. Again, worth the hassle. Promise.
What I’ve learned in my few short years with my tattooer husband? Don’t judge a book by its cover, artists are comfortable everywhere and anywhere, and the best compliment to fine dining is enjoying the company of those you’re with.