My First Tattoo Convention: A Tattoo Apprentice On The Loose

My First Tattoo Convention

The Chronicles of a Talented Tattoo Apprentice
Taking Her First Steps Outside the Studio Nest In Her First Tattoo Convention;


How long have you been tattooing and how old were you when you started?

I’ve been tattooing since early February this year, so roughly 8 or so months, I was 25 when I started.

When was your first encounter with the world of tattoos and what attracted you to it?

I can’t explain why but I’ve always had a strong connection and attraction to the industry, the fascination has always been there; I went for a big group interview when I was 18 for an apprenticeship which was my first real encounter with the industry.

Shell Tattoo by Kim Davies

Tell us about your artistic background, what did your portfolio include at the time?

I was drawing since before I could remember so a lot of it came form self drive and self teaching. I of course studied it through school, after school I studied Graphic design, with a major in illustration. When I decided it was time to commit to finding an apprenticeship I dedicated a month or two to getting my portfolio in order, I had a lot of pieces already but I worked on trying out different styles so I could have a well rounded and versatile portfolio, with an emphasis on strong line work of course 😉

Rabbit Tattoo by Kim Davies

What do you remember about your training/apprenticeship?

I’ve picked up little golden bits of advice from each different artist in the shop, the more you listen the more you learn. I would love sitting out the back just watching the artists work. I remember seeing the work the artists were doing on my first day and just being absolutely mesmerized and just in awe and I couldn’t have felt luckier!
I attended a convention in Adelaide, Australia earlier in the year, it was a huge event with some of the best artists from around the country, and I got to meet some of my favorite tattooists and chat with them and just see them tattooing was crazy, it was such a welcoming community and I remember that being the moment I knew this was the industry for me, it really cemented it for me.

What’s the social atmosphere at the shop like?

The studio is amazing, to me it feels like one big family, we all get along and work together so well. It’s just laughs and support all day everyday. Feels like home for me.

Fawn Tattoo by Kim Davies

Which conventions did you go to and how was it decided that you were going?

So far I have been to three, my first was two weeks after I had started with the studio, so I really had no clue what I was doing haha, but I was generally there to help the artists. Fast forward to a year later and I attended my third, the Australian Tattoo Expo in Perth (the Adelaide convention was between the two) this time I was tattooing, it was cool to see how far I’d come. The whole shop attends the convention, we’re a team so naturally we all had to go!

What were your fears and/or expectations before arriving at the convention?

I had a vague idea of what I was walking into this year, but its a pretty crazy situation, with so much going on and so many people walking around and talking to you, I was mostly excited, but as I decided to do flash designs for walk-ups for two of the three days, my biggest fear was definitely that maybe no one would want my designs and I wouldn’t get to tattoo, but in the end I got to do a few, so I was stoked.

Rose and Snake Tattoo by Kim Davies

How did you prepare for the convention?

I spent the month or so leading up to the convention designing my flash and organizing business cards and stickers etc, and just generally making mental notes of what I needed to pack etc !

Arriving, taking it in and setting up

Set up was EXHAUSTING! The shop launched a new clothing range so there was A LOT of boxes full of clothes, hats and bags that needed to be carried up stairs and into the convention center, as well as all of the shop equipment. The setup was pretty smooth and the pack down was insanely quick! We work really well as a team so we were out within an hour and across the road to the pub for beers!

Ocelot Tattoo by Kim Davies

Did you choose the pieces you were going to tattoo and the clients, or were they all “walk-up”s?

The first day I booked a full day piece which I worked with my client to come up with a unique design that really showcased my style. The final two days I had flash designs available for walk-ups. I think I did about 13 tattoos in total over the three days.

How would you describe the atmosphere at the convention and how did it make you feel?

I LOVE conventions, it’s great for meeting other artists and seeing a huge variety of work. The atmosphere is great, it feels like a big party and were’s all running off coffee and adrenaline. The conventions are always a highlight of the year for me.

Wolf Tattoo by Kim Davies

Is there any mingling going on? Did you get to watch any big artist work from up close?

I didn’t have as much time at the latest convention to network and chat as I was so busy myself tattooing, but I got to see some of my favourite artists at work, which is always really cool. I got some good feedback from some artists I really admire which is amazing of course and super encouraging.

How did it feel tattooing in convention conditions?

It does feel very hectic and a little bit overwhelming at times, I did feel a bit of pressure, having so many strangers watching me work and chatting with me. But everyone in the team was super helpful and supportive, which took some heat off. It’s hard not being in the shop because I couldn’t find any of the utensils I needed! It’s very cramped in the booths.

How would you sum up the experience and what will you do differently next convention?

Inspiring, tiring and rewarding.
Next time I will definitely not do 13 tattoos! haha
I want to book three big jobs, instead of designing flash for walk ups, just so I can spend the day focusing and doing the best piece I can.

Realistic Color Rose Tattoo by Kim Davies

What’s next?

I’m really working on developing my own personal style and building up a client base at the moment.

The best lesson learned at the convention and a word of advice for apprentices and aspiring artists:

Best lesson for the convention would be to make sure you are well prepared and organized.
My tip would be to stick with it, you need to really commit, work hard and put your whole heart into it, and be prepared to clean A LOT! But it’s so worthwhile.
I think finding the right studio for yourself is super important as well, it helps to feel valued and supported, a mutual respect really helps.


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Love & Ink,


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