001COVERThe All American Tattoo Convention will bring incredible tattoo artists from around the nation to the Crown Coliseum April 14-16. This is the first tattoo convention of its kind in Fayetteville, but it is a perfect fit. “Fayetteville, North Carolina, has one of the highest tattoo shops per square mile in the U.S. Ninety percent of infantry soldiers has at least one tattoo. Fayetteville has a lot of shops and there wasn’t a real sense of community, we knew that if we gave only the top shops the opportunity they would jump on the chance to be a part of a convention. That not only brought in amazing seminars but also gave back to the military community,” said Ryan Harrell, president of the All American Tattoo Convention.

Tattooing is an ancient art form, but it isn’t like painting. The tattoo artist isn’t the only one responsible for the outcome of the piece. It is also in the hands of the owner. “A lot of people do not understand that a fresh tattoo is an open wound and should be treated with care. Healing a tattoo correctly at home is a large part of how the tattoo turns out. Because a tattoo artist can only control the environment in the shop, once you leave it is up to you to take care of the tattoo until it has healed fully,” Harrell explained.

The public response has been overwhelmingly positive. “The convention quickly grew to over 300 tattoo artists, double our original projections,” said Harrell. “We sold out of booths and had to figure out alternative ways to satisfy the local health department requirements of a show that large. Having a waiting list of artists who want to come to your show and making a decision to grow into the coliseum was a huge decision for us,” he added. 

A list of artists can be found on the All American Tattoo Convention website. Many of the artists are taking appointments for the convention. There are also a number of artists who will not be taking any appointments; they are instead only doing walk-ups. One such artist is Sarah Miller. She often has a massive waitlist and this is the first convention where she is only taking walk-ups. This is her way of giving back to the military community.

This is truly an opportunity unlike any other. There is no other time during the year where so many incredible artists are under one roof. “The convention is one large tattoo shop, there will be the chance to be tattooed by amazing tattoo artists from all over the world. Some of the artists coming have yearlong waiting lists, but they are coming to our show and taking walk-ins. 

“We have sideshows, contests and a Miss All American contest, so there will be things to do while you wait to be tattooed, or wait on your friends who are getting tattooed. We also have a meet and greet with some amazing tattoo artists who were on Spike TV shows like Ink Master and Tattoo Rescue, and VIP ticket holders get in free to this event,” Harrell said.

While many go to conventions to get tattoos, that is only beginning of what the event has to offer for artists and patrons. For artists it is an exciting opportunity to catch up with friends, show off their work and meet exciting new people. For patrons, there are incredible artists to talk with, competitions to watch, events and many booths to explore. 

Airborne aerial fitness performers will be in attendance as will The All Veteran Parachute Team, New Olde City Sideshow, Fayetteville Roller Derby Rogue Roller Girls, and Half Pint Brawlers. There will also be a Miss All American pinup contest. Emcees include Dr. Carl Blasphemy and Johnny “Awesome” Ivey. Harrell noted that you don’t have to be getting a tattoo in order to have an amazing time.

The convention also includes a group called Operation Tattooing Freedom. “Tattoo therapy is a program created by Operation Tattooing Freedom and one of the doctors from Spike TV’s Ink Shrinks. It helps a veteran who has PTSD or other combat-related injuries, as tattooing releases chemicals in the body that allow them to be able to open up about issues that are affecting them,” Harrell said. 

“Operation Tattooing Freedom is growing by leaps and bounds, and we look forward to working with even more veterans in the near future.”

Benefiting the community is another focus for the convention and many of the artists. “Giving back to the community that has given so much to us (is important). On Sunday when we award a portion of the proceeds to the Fisher House of Fort Bragg and our other charities, it will make it all worth it,” Harrell said.

For more information about the convention, a list of participating artists and a schedule of events, please visit https://allamericantattooconvention.com.

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