Visions of INK
Artists flock to The Electric City Tattoo Convention, April 27-29
By Tom Graham
The driving forces behind the Third Annual Electric City Tattoo Convention, Scranton’s Electric City Tattoo Gallery, don’t want to stuff a room full of hundreds of tattoo artists, oversell tickets, shuffle in as many people as they can and sit back with their feet up.
Their goals are far different. “Our tattoo shop feels much like a home environment, and that’s what we try to present at the convention as well,” said Woody Wodock from EC Tattoo. That means convention hosts are on-site, helping make all of the 80 plus visiting artists feel at home and ensuring all attendees enjoy a safe, sanitary and family friendly environment.
This year’s convention will be held April 27 through 29 at the Hilton Scranton and Conference Center.
When asked what the tattoo convention was all about, Wodock explained that their main goal is to turn the second floor of the Hilton into a large tattoo shop for the entire weekend. The convention will bring in tattoo professionals from all over the country, some as far away as Utah, Illinois and South Carolina. Most of the vendors (Fanciful Fox, D & D Collectables, Matt Hiller from Revival Letterpress, IKE Design Group) and entertainment (juggler Rob Smith and magicians Dan Kosloski and Phil Crosson) will be from northeastern Pennsylvania, keeping with the theme of showcasing the Scranton area. “I didn’t want to go outside of the area to look for talent because there is just so much of it here,” Wodock said.
The idea for the convention has always been in the back of Wodock’s mind. After taking a course in convention management while attending college, he composed a rough sketch for a tattoo convention. Having never seen or heard of this concept before, his curious professor encouraged the project, but also raised several questions and concerns Wodock had previously never considered. After Electric City Tattoo Gallery’s inaugural year in 2008, and time spent observing other various conventions, Wodock and tattoo artist Elijah Birtel sat down and brainstormed.
“We just ran with the idea. We talked about a lot of the different things we saw at other conventions that we thought we could improve on. We wanted to be personable. We wanted to offer a comfortable environment so tattooers feel relaxed and at home. They get to know who we are as people. During our first convention, I called everyone by their first name. We’ve become friends with everybody who has taken the time to be part of our convention. It’s become much more than just people who come in from out of town.”
Not only are they bringing the artists to the area, the area is having a direct influence on some of their art.
“We named our shop The Electric City Tattoo Gallery because we all love Scranton, we enjoy living here, this is where we started our business and we’re pretty anchored. A lot of the visiting artists love coming to Scranton as well and some of them have even started creating Scranton-themed flash designs. Jemola (Addley from Resurrected Tattoo, Syracuse, N.Y.) came up with flash sheets featuring coal mining designs, a keystone with a mountain laurel inside of it and a canary wearing a miner’s hat. He took the time to create art that relates to our area. It’s about bringing tattooers from all over the country to Scranton and introducing them to the area and its people.”
The convention committee has been very selective when it comes to choosing the featured tattoo artists. Attendees are encouraged to look through the artists’ portfolios and not worry about getting a bad tattoo, but make sure they are comfortable with the style of the tattoo they want. Wodock said, “every tattoo artist is going to do a good tattoo. I’m sure of it.”
They are also striving to keep the convention upscale and family oriented. To promote more of the family vibe, they’ll provide stick-on tattoos for the kids to keep the young ones involved and satisfy their curiosity.
The people behind The Electric Tattoo Convention expect the event to change shape and evolve from year to year, but they are firm in their ways and never want to lose sight of their initial ideas.
“I don’t want the convention to ever get bigger than it should be. We could’ve filled the convention with over a hundred booths this year, but we want to keep the quality right where it is. We don’t want the convention to outgrow itself or turn into something we didn’t intend it to be in the beginning. We’re not trying to make it bigger; we’re just trying little things to make it better.”
The Electric City Tattoo Convention will be held at the Hilton Scranton and Conference Center, 100 Adams Ave., on Friday, April 27, from 3-11 p.m., Saturday, April 28, from 12-11 p.m., and Sunday, April 29, from 12-8 p.m. Single day, two-day and weekend passes will be available. There will also be after parties on Friday, April 27 at The Keys (244 Penn Ave.) featuring music by The Invisible Swordsman, and Saturday, April 28 at The Bog (341 Adams Ave.) with music from The Coal Town Rounders. For tickets, a complete list of participating artists and more information, visit www.electriccitytattooconvention.com.