Return of the Limestone City Tattoo & Arts Festival

Union Gallery

Body art festival returns for its second year

A tattoo artist at the festival.
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Last weekend, I stepped into the hall of the Four Points by Sheraton to be met with the hum of countless tattoo guns at the Limestone City Tattoo and Arts Festival.

Returning for its second year on the weekend of September 16, the festival expanded considerably since its initial run to include more artists and styles. Ashley Silversides, event co-organizer, explained how she turned her idea into a successful convention that drew artists from all around the globe.

First thought of two years ago by Silversides and her business partner Andrew Ottenhof,  the festival took off quickly after partnering with big-name tattoo supply distributor Eikon — which also happens to have roots in Kingston.

Silversides described her responsibilities as including everything from marketing and media to production and promotion.

After having a successful event with 40 artists, Silversides said they expanded to 50. “We increased the amount of vendors we had as well, and we added a little more entertainment and stuff for everyone. There’s a full art gallery, there’s something for everyone who is interested in art here,” she said about this year.

The lobby of the convention had a temporary tattoo booth for kids, arcade games, a strongman competition, multiple jewelry, art vendors and a booth from Kingston-based escape room company Improbable Escapes. Even those who weren’t interested in tattoos could easily spend a couple hours at the festival.

There were artists of all kinds — in booths specializing in countless different genres of tattooing. There were traditional, neotraditional, watercolour, hyperrealist, sketch, blackwork and other types of tattoo art I’d never even seen before that hung up on the artist’s booths as examples.

 Most booths had sample books of the artist’s past tattoo designs and flash sheets for inspiration splayed out for visitors to peruse. Some artists also brought t-shirts, prints and patches with their designs to sell.

Other artists chose to sell more unconventional merchandise — one booth advertised “whisky and storytelling”, and another was selling taxidermied fox and coyote faces for five dollars.

Booked solid throughout the weekend, the majority of the tattoo artists were busy with a high volume of customers. I noticed some patrons going booth to booth, asking if they had any walk-ins available for flash designs with little success.

One artist tattooing a giant bird with clocks for eyes on someone’s leg mentioned that both of his five hour blocks had been snapped up before he even got to Kingston. The sheer volume of booths and artists packed into the venue blew me away. I didn’t expect such a number and variety of artists to be present.

According to Silversides, “there’s so many phenomenal artists in Kingston. It’s an art-driven community, and we’re really lucky to be here.”

All in all, the experience was unlike any I’d ever had before, and I would definitely recommend spending an afternoon at the festival next time it comes to town. Silversides summed the experience up nicely when she said, “we just want to let people in Kingston know – there’s a really cool thing happening here.”

 

 

 

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