Sarnia’s first ever tattoo artist expo intending to leave its mark

Jake Romphf

What started as a dinner table conversation between two friends planning an arm wrestling competition has turned into Sarnia’s first ever tattoo expo, and it’s creating international buzz.

About 100 tattoo artists from around the world are expected to attend Tatts at the Bridge, taking place Aug. 10-12 at Clearwater Arena.

Organizers Jeff Robinson and Shawn Askin say the name stems from the fact the expo was envisioned for the Point Edward Arena but grew so quickly they had to find a larger venue.

“We’re a border city. It’s perfect,” said Robinson, who noted Toronto is the closest centre with anything similar.

Participants are coming from as far away as Greece, Thailand, Colombia and India.

“The minute people started seeing other artists sign, it just blew up,” Askin said.

Among those attending is Malibu Budd, a Sarnia native now working in London and renowned for her custom horror and realism work.

“She’s coming, and that made us pretty excited,” said Robinson.

Artists will take walk-up tattoo appointments or appointments can be booked in advance. Visitors also can watch as artists finish large pieces while competing for 16 awards in categories such as tattoo of the day, best overall tattoo, and most unusual.

Tatts at the Bridge hopes to raise $10,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society through ticket sales. Sarnia Kinsmen will get the bar proceeds and the Optimist Club of Sarnia is holding a “Bail N Jail” event.

Scheduled to do several shows at the event is thrill show performer Chris Campbell, known for pushing body pain to the thresholds. He’ll try to break a world record for most non-surgical staples stapled to a body.

Admission is restricted to 16 and older, and anyone getting a tattoo must be 18 or have parental permission.

Day passes are $20 at the door, $55 for the weekend, and available at Smoke Station, 4 Life Ink, Sacred Expression and Border City Tattoo.

“Nobody at this expo is going to hold you down and say you’re getting one (tattoo). We just want them to come out and see that this is art,” Askin said.