Skin Tech - Manchester '06

Published: 25 December, 2009 - Featured in Skin Deep 132, April, 2006

This year’s Skin Tech was my first convention of the year as I had to miss Swansea due to me coming down with Malaria (it’s a long story), so I was really looking forward to meeting up with old friends and seeing some great new ink work appearing on skin. This year’s Skin Tech was due to be held in the Manchester G-mex centre but due to a last minute pull out by a big sponsor Jorge and his team decided to hold the convention back in the Piccadilly hotel. This has proved to be a great venue in subsequent shows and this year was no exception. The one thing that always strikes me is the superb organisation and management of this show. There must be one hundred and one things to think about and keep on top of but The Skin Tech crew do this and more effortlessly and always with a smile.
The doors opened at eleven on the Saturday and a stream of cold but eager tattoo fans came through the doors. It did seem a little quiet compared to previous years but what with the arctic weather that had gripped the country, I’m sure many folk had trouble getting to the venue. I personally had to dig my van out of the snow on the Saturday morning and had a very tretcurous ten mile drive or so before the snow cleared. Still, it was warm and inviting on the third floor of the Piccadilly and it wasn’t long before the first tattoo machine burst into life.    

Jorge and his team had put together an impressive line-up of indigenous and foreign tattoo artists to ply their trade. There really was a good cross-section of styles on offer over the weekend so no matter what your persuasion for ink is, you could guarantee there was someone there to cater to your needs.

Many of the attending artists had just been names and photos in magazines to me so it was great to stand and watch the likes of Louis Malloy, Clive Bilham, Steve Potton, Patrick Huttlinger, Scott Fricke doing what they do best.    

Apart from the large line-up of artists, there was a good selection of trade stalls selling everything from ear stretchers to flash designs to corsets, so nobody had to go home empty handed.

To reduce the wait and backlog that can happen at some shows, the judging was done over two days. This made for an easier time for the judges and kept the front of stage clear so folk could wander quite freely. Not long after the judging and very talented and committed chap by the name of Alex put on his unique suspension show. He went down a storm at last years show and talking to him prior to the display he mentioned that he would be giving a brief insight to the thinking and various suspensions that came from the Native Americans. He was obviously nervous at doing the talk but it was very informative and I found it fascinating. Unfortunately some of the crowd were not so appreciative and just wanted to see Alex hang himself by hooks so many wandered off before he had time to finish his show. To those who walked off, it was your loss as you missed not only a great display of suspension but also an insight to some of the origins of these techniques that Alex feels so passionate about.   

Sunday started with a weak sun in the spring sky and a queue of people waiting to come in for another day of tattooing. Some of the tattooists were stealing themselves for new work and others were fettling their equipment to carry on work that was started on the Saturday. Either way, Sunday got off to a flying start. One brave chap sat in the chair opposite Paul Naylor from Indigo tattoo, ready for a few hours of fun (?) having booked himself in for a quite large portrait smack in the middle of his chest. How you sat there for what was quite a long time is beyond me. My hat goes off to you sir. Still, it was all worthwhile I’m sure as he and Paul walked away with the Best of Sunday trophies. Very well deserved and a superb piece of tattooing. Walking up and down the isles, there were some fantastic looking tattoos being done, and if you couldn’t get to see the artist working due to the crowds gathered around the booths, the was a chap with a hand held camera beaming pictures direct to two massive cinema screens so all could follow the proceedings. This has been tried at quite a few conventions but Skin Tech got it just right so the filmed images were extremely clear and well shot so you could actually see what was going on, not just a dark blur on a screen. Well done for that as it gave the assembled masses plenty to look at all weekend.   

The Skin Deep stand was in the perfect spot to see two traditionalists working close up. We were right next door to the very talented Mr Nu, who was offering his traditional Thai hand poked tattoos and just to my left was the superbly gifted artist, Horimasa hailing from Japan. Both seemed busy all weekend and were definite crowd pullers, giving an insight into the traditions and techniques of other tattooing cultures.   

As Sunday went on and the judging out of the way, Alex gave another superb suspension show with the help of a band of willing ‘susspendees’ This time the crowd were far more appreciative at the sight of Alex and his gang attaching hooks through their flesh and performing a tug of war with other members of the cast. If you get the chance to see these guys in action do, it’s well worth it.   

With the presentations done and the rounds of applause fading away, this was the sound that marked the end of yet another hugely successful Skin Tech International Tattoo Show. Many headed off home content with spending a weekend in the company of some friendly and warm people as well as witnessing some truly superb artists at work and possibly taking home a permanent reminder of their time at Skin Tech.

Roll on next year…


Text & Photography: Neil Dalleywater & Paul Callaby


Skin Deep 132 1 April 2006 132