By Rebecca Fiedler
This weekend art will be created, and the canvas of choice for many Wacoans will be their own bodies.
The festival will host tattoo artists from across the United States and provide live entertainment.
Patrons of the festival will have the chance to meet and be tattooed by a selection of more than 100 artists, as well as the chance to participate in tattoo contests to show off their ink.
Contest categories range from tattoos of movie images to Oriental style tattoos to black and grey photo realism tattoos, and more.
“Typically you’re into tattoos when you’re going to come to the show, whether you have them or if you’ve been thinking about getting them forever,” said Shane Gutierrez, co-owner of G-Force Productions, which hosts Immersed In Ink.
Cassie Bordner, a Wacoan and tattoo bearer, said she plans on attending the festival.
Bordner attended the festival the last time it was in Waco, before she even had any tattoos, and said she has always been interested in tattoos.
“Everybody who has a tattoo, it’s something that relates to them,” Bordner said. “They don’t just pick a random thing.”
Bordner said she loves traditional tattoos from past eras of tattoo design, such as anchors, pin-up girls and swallows, in styles like that of late tattoo artist Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins. Bordner, herself, bears a large traditional-style tattoo that she is considering entering in a contest at the festival.
“This is my third tattoo,” Bordner said. “I have five tattoos right now. It’s basically the traditional sleeve of Mother Nature, done by Steve Byrne from Rock of Ages in Austin, Texas. I got it because I’m a vegetarian, and I’m close to nature, although I feel like I’m very in-tuned with nature. I love being around nature and respect Mother Earth.”
Tattoos will be judged by how well the tattoo was applied, Gutierrez said, as well as the flow of the placement on the body, how the tattoo healed, and many other criteria.
Gutierrez said the most important criteria is the quality of the tattoo.
Tattoos entered in a contest can be tattoos already inked or those created at the festival by one of the artists. Patrons of the festival will have the chance to view the portfolios of different artists’ works and select an artist to create a tattoo for them.
“We don’t pay TV celebrity artists to come work our show,” Gutierrez said. “We do have quite a slew of great artists that are well known throughout the United States.”
Gutierrez said the artists strive to win awards at these shows. He said there’s fame to be gained within the festival.
“Typically if you’re going to get a tattoo you have to drive all over your city going to 15 shops, trying to figure out who the best one is, and you only have local shops to choose from – you only have the local artists to choose from,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez said festival patrons will have a much bigger variety than they would get locally.
“If you come to the tattoo convention, you have over 100 artists from all over the country, top-of-the-line, best of the business, and you can look at their portfolios right there in front of you, so you literally just walk a couple hundred yards at a time and you’ll have looked at over 100 portfolios and talked to 100 artists, and now it’s really easy for you to just decide who you want to do that permanent work of art that’s going to be on your body forever,” Gutierrez said.
Artists at the festival will include local Waco artists Gutierrez said.
“It’s also a great way for local artists to compare their tattooing to the national scene to see where they stand,” Gutierrez said, “So a lot of the local artists will get all their clients to come in and enter into the tattoo contest.”
Many of the festival’s artists are booked up on Saturday and Sunday, Gutierrez said, so it’s best to come early on Friday and figure out which artist you want, set up an appointment, and come back the appointed day.
Tickets for the entire weekend cost $35 and single day tickets cost $20. The price includes the cost of entertainment.