Jump to content

Tattoo convention contests


Recommended Posts

So since @Cork and I are going to battle it out in the back piece contest in Philly, and neither of us have a clue what to expect, how about some advice so we don't look/act like complete idiots and shame LST's good name?

The rules online are pretty basic - cost and category. Some mention that the tattoo should be completely healed except for Tattoo of the Day; others don't mention healed state. A few sets of rules mention that the tattoo artist has to attend as well. Sure, follow the rules posted for a particular convention, but which are typical?

How big does the field for back pieces range? How close are the judges to the contestants? How formal is all this? What to wear, what to wear ... surely chicks don't go topless for a back piece, right, lol? :rolleyes: Are guys and gals judged separately? I've heard that the winners tend to be tattooed in a style that the judges prefer, so the panel composition can be more important than the actual quality of the tattoo. (Not to imply that this is any different from any other subjective judging event - we'll just complain about judges in collusion like the figure skaters do.)

Any sage advice? Mocking and sarcasm are always welcome, as usual.

And how about you folks who have competed and those who have won - would you share your experiences and your winning tattoos? Pictures of awards being given get extra props.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I noticed on the Ink Master finales (back pieces) that the ladies wore something like tape over their nipples and damn-near thongs. They came out in robes, turned around, and dropped the robes. I would think stick-on bra if you are more modest (or, tasseled pasties if not). Or, have a custom outfit designed and made (or do it yourself). Oh, and high heels for the ladies will probably get points.

Most of these conventions seem to have burlesque reviews and things like human suspension, so I'd think coverage is up to your own personal modesty.

Both you and Cork? Wish I could make that one! We definitely need pictures AND video!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Every show is different.

Depends on the size of the stage, the panel of judges either sit directly behind you or up the front of the crowd.

No. Chicks don't go topless. You'll know what to wear. Like a top piece swimmer or similar.

Most events will have a best back female and a best back male, but I have attended a combined category once before, that was at a typical "convention'" style show. I much preferred the old MC shows.

Panel composition. Let's put it this way, every show has its flavour and dependant on that flavour is how the judging will go. Not necessarily does the best tattoo win the category, but best for that particular style of show could be quite appropriate. You get the feel of this after attending quite a few.

I've taken out best back at some events and haven't made the final judging at others. Anyway, it's all about having some fun and showing the crowd of like minded people. You'll get more "fuck yeah" comments when you're back mixing with the crowd.

No, they're not that formal. Just have fun.

The best 1st place trophy I won was a Viking drinking horn. Filled full of rum by a very nice looking young lady as I made my way back to the table

Link to comment
Share on other sites

best back will likely be one of the last categories. go watch the earlier categories first to see what it's like.

basically, they call your name, you go on stage and show your work to the judges. they look as closely as they need to, might ask you some questions, and they take notes. when they're done with you, you show your work to the crowd, walk off stage and wait for the decision. some folks may want to take photos off stage.

as mentioned before, it's really up to what the judges like. good luck!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hah wow I guess I have to go now, huh? I'm just going fundoshi I guess. I've worn minimal clothing in front of hundreds of people before, so this is nothing new to me. I won't submit my wife to this, so I'll be going solo. Don't know how many pictures I'll be able to snag. I also don't know how many more pictures of my ass I need circulating the internet.

From what I've heard, the judging is completely subjective. It would be nice if you could go and do it anonymously, as I'm sure an artists name alone could sway a judge one way or another.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From what I've heard, the judging is completely subjective. It would be nice if you could go and do it anonymously, as I'm sure an artists name alone could sway a judge one way or another.

if the artist is good enough that their name alone could sway the judges, then their work most likely deserves the sway as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for sharing this stuff - that gives me a better idea what I'm getting myself into. And pasties? Um, no. I think I can rig up a halter top and see what kind of teetering high heels I have shoved in the back of the closet.

I have no expectations - just cracking myself up at the audacity of it all. Just to say I did it - what the hell. No, my husband won't be coming, but I might be able to rope in a friend.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

In the interests of completeness, @Cork and I survived the tattoo contest so I'll answer my original questions here for posterity and other potential contestants.

A couple pictures are attached - the three from @Cork in the http://www.lastsparrowtattoo.com/forum/lst-get-togethers-tattoo-conventions/6245-philadelphia-tattoo-convention-2015-a.html thread. Aside from the awesome photo bomb from Brian O'Halloran from Clerks, you see @Cork waiting for his turn to show while a girl is illustrating one clothing option and showing how to "assume the position." I also included a picture of my contest slips and of what it looks like trying to see the stage from the crowd - I had my camera held up over my head.

Well before the contests start, you head to a table by the stage and enter as many of the contests as you want. Sign up, pay your $10, and you get a slip of paper with the category and your number in the category. You hand/show it to the judge when you get up there - it's supposed to be anonymous.

How big does the field for back pieces range?

There were about 30 of us entered in the backpiece contest. It was on Sunday, which apparently has fewer attendees. For comparison, there were fewer in Extra Large Color (which I was gently ragged-on for also entering). There were about 5 for Overall and around 10ish in categories such as hand and neck. There were many more than 30 for small and medium color and black and grey.

The announcer presented a girl with an underboob tattoo and announced it as "The New Tramp Stamp." <cringe> Sigh. There were mutterings that there should be gender classes for the "chest" category.


How close are the judges to the contestants?

There were two judging tables - one on the stage (which was elevated about 2-3 feet - the same stage that was set on fire by this genius: Caught on Cam: Fire Breather Catches Fire During Tattoo Convention | NBC 10 Philadelphia) and one table on the floor just in front of the stage.

They ran both at the same time with different categories at each (for example, at the start, they ran all black and grey from the left at the lower table, and color from the right at the upper table). We went right up to the table and turned. The three judges sat behind the table and didn't come around. For thigh pieces and the like, the entrants backed up a couple feet to allow good viewing.

How formal is all this?

Not very, other than when they call your category, you had better get in line. And because they were running two tables, the categories got out of sync and didn't go in order - they called XL Black and Grey which is listed AFTER XL Color, and I thought I missed it!

So a category is announced like this, "Backpiece, line up on the right of the stage starting with Number 1, Bob, Number 2, @SeeSea, Number 3, @Cork, through to 30, and you all have numbers so figure out the rest on your own." The line is not behind the stage or behind a curtain - see the pic of me standing in line for XL Color. The first person waits to be called and they go up the steps. You tell your number then turn around and stand there, looking at the crowd, which is somewhat paying attention but often just chatting among themselves. Then you look back a couple times because you have no clue if they are done, and eventually they will nod or say, "Thank you." Most people didn't turn to show the audience - I remembered to for XL Color but forgot to for backpiece. No one is announced - after the person in front of you finishes, wait a short moment then head up and lather/rinse/repeat.

Some time later, when those scores are tallied, the announcer will just announce the results over the loudspeaker while judging of other categories continues. Somewhat controlled chaos. And boring. Because you can't really see anything, everyone is just standing around waiting, wondering if you can get through the line at the bathroom in time.

What to wear, what to wear ... surely chicks don't go topless for a back piece, right, lol? :rolleyes:

I saw all kinds but no pasties. Many girls wore halter tops or bikinis of some sort, and untied them or pulled them aside. This is what I did. My halter covered a bit less than the pictures show - I used those heavy clamp paperclip things to pull back the sides on the bottom so the entire tattoo showed. There were a few girls who had hoodies or jackets turned around and unzipped them. In the picture where @Cork is walking up to the stage, you can see the girl in front of him doing just this. Then there was this girl who was right in front of me in line. She had on a string. Just a string. And she looked great in that string. She had a black and grey astronomy tattoo that went down one cheek so it was a good outfit to show the entire thing.

Obviously for the dudes, shirtless was easy. @Cork dropped trou, weighted down by his belt they slammed down BAM right on the stage, drawing a quick look of surprise from a female judge. Good times. Then he crunched up his boxers to maximize visual impact for the judges and maintained a strong look of decorum, staring straight into the crowd. I don't recall fundoshis for Backpiece, but I saw some for Overall. Wearing a fundoshi and then waiting to drop pants/shorts on stage facing away from the judges would have been just fine for those concerned about public displays of cheekage.

Are guys and gals judged separately?

Nope, not for backpiece or any contest on Sunday. On Saturday, there are gender classes for many but they don't do backs on Saturday.

I've heard that the winners tend to be tattooed in a style that the judges prefer, so the panel composition can be more important than the actual quality of the tattoo.

Apparently this is the case from what I hear. Second place was a black and grey Ben Franklin theme. We were in Philly. Go figure. Although, the three trophies went to a back-to-thighs new school odd evil fish with teeth organic things with extra eyeballs that was pretty cool, black and grey Ben, and then back-to-thighs Japanese. So it clearly wasn't restricted to a particular style.

Overall, it's an experience and you'll see a wide variety of styles and quality wandering around in the crowd that is waiting to be judged. There were some really great tattoos there, and some less fortunate ones.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

@SeeSea would you do it again? and do you consider yourself a competitive tattoo model now?

Haha, a model I am not! I might do it again while the tattoo still has that super newness to it or my artist suggests it, but I certainly won't be a tattoo convention contest roadie. It was fun to try so I certainly don't regret it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I remember I won tattoo of the day for a portrait I got at the NTA Convention in Baltimore many years ago...Back then they didn't even have judges deciding who won,we had to show the tattoos to the audience,and whoever got the loudest applause won.I do think the judges can favor someone if they know the artist who did their work.Its a flawed system,and I personally don't care if an artist won any trophies at a convention.Its more or less something some artists will try to get more business with by putting a trophy in their shop to make customers think their an award winning artist,and must be great.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 10 months later...

Dragging up an old thread. But I'm getting ready to enter my back piece in the Best of the Midwest tattoo convention in February. I'm no skinny thing, mind you. I wonder if the judges take body type in to consideration when judging.

I am also wondering if the experts on here could tell me if it is even worth entering. Pic is in my profile. Thanks

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...