Monday, June 24, 2013 , Updated 10:00 a.m., June 26, 2013
Photos: Texans show off head tattoos, full back ink at Mesquite tattoo convention
One woman gives her story on "human suspending” -- that's swinging on a rope held only by hooks pierced through her back.
MESQUITE In the spirit of our Best Ink in DFW contest, we set out to the Immersed in Ink tattoo convention in Mesquite June 21-23 to find creative and eye-catching ink. We didn’t have to go far: Many of the artists work in Dallas-Fort Worth studios.
The winner of "best in show" was Jared Jackson, who has a phoenix tattoo created by artist Jason Jones from Missouri. See his tattoo here. We focused on a few of the local tattoo contestants by chronicling their ink stories:
Cole Dirt has tattooed for Dallas-based Artistic Encounter for three years. Dirt isn’t religious, but when his grandfather was dying of cancer, he accompanied him to church one day. His grandfather stood and sang, “It is well with my soul.” Cole immortalized the moment and his grandfather’s legacy with a guitar, notes, and script on his left arm.
Dirt prepared for the convention by sketching a big fish eating a little fish. Before a convention-goer could request the tattoo, Dirt’s girlfriend Courtney Clayton went under the needle for it. Dirt’s sketch reminded Clayton of the fashion industry she’s worked in for a decade. “It’s a dog-eat-dog world,” Clayton said. She currently designs for JC Penney and is a wardrobe stylist on the side. Most of her tattoos are from whims, she said. She describes her style as “erratic.”
“If you think you have too many accessories, you need one more,” she said.
Jeremy Gandy tattoos for Artistic Encounter with Dirt. His favorite tattoo is a black and white depiction on his ribs of his great grandparents’ wedding photo. Gandy describes the moment he showed his great grandma the ink: “She’s Southern Baptist. Of course, she didn’t want her great grandson to get a tattoo, but she enjoyed it,” he said. Gandy’s 5-year-old daughter Irie wanted a tattoo too, so Artistic Encounter drew a Hello Kitty on her back with markers.
For Rachel Salvaggio, tattoos are a way to show the world the rough home life she emerged from. On her arm, the hands of God are lifting a depiction of her. A circus scene covers her back, inspired by a commercial she saw with a costumed ringleader. “You’re the ringleader of your own life,” Salvaggio said. “You decide if you succeed or fail.”
Six years ago in college, J.B. Scott had a vision of a squid fighting a whale. So he saved up the money working as a geology analyst for an oil and gas company, and went to artist Mark Thompson at Obscurities to get Japanese-style sleeves. “I just like Japanese culture ... and dark lines age well,” he said.
Tim Benner’s arms also exhibit Thompson’s talent. Aspen and maple leaves, a salmon, and dogwood flowers tell Benner’s roots from British Columbia, Canada. Benner studied anthropology and specialized in Southeast Asia. He’s now the director of consumer insights at Samsung Telecommunications.
For Shalen “Adrenalen” (a stage name), she saw a sketch of a human heart with octopus tentacles at Immersed in Ink’s Waco convention in February and was intrigued. Artist Jose Gonzalez with Austin Demographics etched the “heart-o-pus” onto her upper thigh for 12 hours. Now, it’s her favorite tattoo. She also began “human suspending,” swinging on a rope held up only by hooks pierced in one’s back tissue. “Of course it hurts, but then you get up there, and you forget the hooks are there and you feel like you’re a ballerina in the air,” Shalen said.
Jimmy Richards, an artist himself, wanted to get a tattoo to spark conversation with strangers. A black and white lion on his right arm represents God, like Aslan in C.S. Lewis’s popular fiction series The Chronicles of Narnia. To complete a black and white half-sleeve, artist Frank Sanchez with Cat Tattoo will add a sparrow with a pocket watch and an old ship in rough waters. The sparrow comes from the Bible verse Matthew 6:26, which talks about the "birds of the air," which seek the kingdom of God without anxiety. The pocketwatch will symbolize Jesus’s returning, and the ship and the sea will symbolize Richards’ safe journey through tough circumstances.
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