Tattoo show draws Oregon ink lovers

Special guest Corey Miller to make an appearance, custom “Oregon skull’ tattoo

by Maria Baum | Freelance Reporter

Once considered taboo, tattooing has quickly become a social norm that is widely recognized in Oregon as a means of self‐expression. This weekend in Eugene, hundreds of tattoo artists will flock to the Lane Events Center to share their creative enthusiasm at Oregon’s first‐ever tattoo convention.

The Oregon Ink Tattoo convention is being put on by Northwest Tattoo Magazine and will host nearly 150 tattoo artists from all over Oregon, as well as artists from out‐of‐state. Tattoo artist Corey Miller from TLC’s television show “L.A. Ink” is among several of the highly anticipated guests.

The event will also feature art shows, tattoo contests, seminars, classes, live music and a beer garden sponsored by Ninkasi Brewing. The group of female tattoo models known as the “Suicide Girls” will also be present to sign autographs. Miller describes the occasion as “a three‐day rock concert for art.”

Brandon Ingram, publisher of Northwest Tattoo Magazine, said Eugene is an ideal location for hosting a tattoo convention. “Eugene has a lot of tattoo people here,” Ingram said. “Portland is one of the biggest tattoo cities in the U.S. and the turnout this weekend is going to be big.”

Ingram said there is a commemorative tattoo available to guests for $50 during all three days of the convention. This tattoo is known as the “Oregon skull” and can be done in different variations depending on preference. “Not everyone can afford a $1,000 tattoo. This is cheap and will be a great way for everyone to remember this day,” he said.

Ingram said he invited Miller because Miller has friends in the area and is recognized as one of the world’s most respected tattoo artists. Miller is best known for his black‐and‐grey realist work and will be giving a flesh drawing seminar during the convention; he will also have his own tattoo booth.

“There are excellent artists that come from the Northwest,” Miller said, “and it will be so exciting for new artists to attend this weekend. For me to be a part of this convention is really rewarding and realistically, I’m coming for people to take the time to look at the books and enjoy art. As far as the partying and rock ‘n’ roll goes, I’ll be there for that, too.”

Miller is known for his creations of timeless designs that have brought him countless career highlights. He tattooed James Hetfield of Metallica and designed a dragon for Hetfield’s Gibson Les Paul guitar. Miller was also asked by custom motorcycle artist Jesse James to tattoo the $100 bill on James’ back. Miller attributes much of his success to the involvement in his TV show, “L.A. Ink.”

Miller describes his background in the tattoo industry as working from the ground up. “I never went to art school or anything like that, and I started on my own as a youngster. When I was 16, I would drive to the local shop and hang out. I started out
doing homemade stuff, and I really liked what I was doing,” he said. For Miller, his profession is rewarding because he gets to create something permanent that makes people happy. “For some people it is a right of passage, and for others it’s a source of
rebellion, but it gives someone something that can change their lives.”

“My favorite tattoo on my body often changes, but recently it is the tattoo of my three children’s names on my arm,” Miller said. “It is something that will always be there, when I’m here in my conscious state and when I’m gone.”

Local artists are eagerly awaiting the arrival of Miller and the convention.

Tattoo artist Splat Ter from High Priestess Piercing and Tattoo said he has wanted an event like this to hit Eugene. Ter will be giving a two‐hour seminar, which will provide participants with Red Cross certification. “Its going to be all Oregon artists
and its cool to see artists from all over the area,” Ter said. “Hopefully the artists will have fun and be able to show their stuff as well as support local businesses.”

University senior Renee Abousamra plans to attend the convention and is excited to see the local talent. “I am really excited about the convention, being a tattoo enthusiast and having a couple myself, I think it’s about time Eugene got a large
convention because we have some awesome talent in Eugene,” Abousamra said.

“With so many visiting artists, it is hard not to get excited.”

Junior Viari Lopez thinks the presence of Corey Miller will be the highlight of the weekend. “I was always unsure about the work of tattoo artists in Oregon, simply because I knew little of them, but for a respected artist like Corey Miller to come and make the claim that Oregon artists are very talented says a lot about tattooing here in Oregon.” Lopez said he will attend the convention and Miller’s booth will be a top priority.

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