Stewed, Screwed And Tattooed: Pile O’ Bones Tattoo Convention 2011

Show me a man with a tattoo and I'll show you a man with an interesting past- Jack London

This looks like it hurts and yes, yes it does. Pain is temporary and being badass is forever. This weekends Pile o’ Bones tattoo convention attracted artists, collectors, looky-lous and law enforcement to the Highland curling club. They came to check portfolios, eye the pin-up girls and take-in a weekends worth of ink-tertainment.

As I walked around the show, a favourite Yeats quote echoed in my ears: “There are two kinds of people in the world: people with tattoos and those who fear people with tattoos.” It may be dated, but it still has some truth to it. Why? I’m not sure. I’ve worked in shops for many years and everyday I am amazed by who, what and where ends up inked. A decade ago, having a sleeve could stop traffic and now every teenage bottle-rocket is sporting huge pieces.

The stigma is gone for most but the revolution takes time. What’s the genesis of tattoo-phobia? Call it puritanism, suspicion or just finding it yucky. Cops, border guards and the unenlightened often equate tattoos with criminality. These folks overlook an art-form with a history predating civilization. People have been getting tattoos for thousands of years and the “trend” is showing no sign of slowing. Tattoos are a legitimate billion-dollar industry and conventions like Pile O’ Bones, are where the pros come to show their work and their ink.