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Local tattoo convention brings top artists to the Space City


The Space City Tattoo Expo returns to Huntsville for the eighth year, attracting prominent artists throughout the country. The convention spans three days at the Von Braun Center, filled with art booths, food and drinks and live music. Shykeim Rashidah, the owner of The Artifacts Tattoo Gallery in the Space City, organizes the event each year.

The convention takes place from April 19th to the 21st, with events like leadership seminars, new tattoo and piercing products and local vendors. Tattoo artists and piercers attend to display their talents and skill. Rashidah said a large part of the event is the highly competitive tattoo contests.

 “We have so many great tattooers that come to our show. And they have such great work; it's really a feather in your cap to be able to say hey, in this specific category, I was better than many of the greats in our industry.”

The categories divide by style, including black and gray, portrait, dark skin, traditional, etc. The wide variety of contests gives everyone a chance to highlight their specialty, with general categories allowing both fresh and healed tattoos. For tattoo of the day, best in show and collaborative tattoos, all must be fresh from the convention. Someone looking to be tattooed can find their artist of choice on the website and book through their Instagram page.

The competitions’ prestige comes from the high level of tattooers invited to the convention. Rashidah said he enjoyed bringing back an old school approach to the event by only selecting established artists for the show.

“The integrity of tattoo shows weren't as much as it used to be just due to [there being] one tattoo show in some city every week. So they failed to be as exclusive as they used to be.” He continued, “We wanted to make it more exclusive and something that younger artists could look to achieve.”

The reputation of the event has expanded greatly over the last eight years. The convention started at a Westin Hotel in Huntsville and only had a handful of artists and attendees. Now the show has grown to fill the Von Braun Center with around 4,000 expected attendees and a couple hundred artists.

Admission is open to all ages, and tickets can be purchased here. All active military, law enforcement, EMS and firefighters receive free admission for the event.

Rashidah started the convention because of his passion for creating a space for artists to express their talents. His experience comes from attending numerous tattoo shows, and owning his own shop for about 15 years. His Huntsville based shop, Artifacts Tattoo Gallery, rates as North Alabama’s #1 tattoo shop.

For more information on the event, visit their website here.

Grayce Kilkenny is a student intern in the Alabama Public Radio Newsroom. She is a sophomore majoring in Public Relations with a minor in Digital, Professional and Public Writing. Outside of the newsroom, Grayce enjoys photography, running and fashion.
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