Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tattoos Now Only an Inky Pleasure; with Stigma Gone, Artists and Collectors Flock to Convention

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Tattoos Now Only an Inky Pleasure; with Stigma Gone, Artists and Collectors Flock to Convention

Article excerpt

Byline: Charlie Patton

In the middle of a crowded convention hall at the Renaissance Resort at the World Golf Village, 51-year-old Tom Bryant did something Saturday that he'd been wanting to do for more than three decades.

He got a tattoo.

His first was an elaborate ink portrait of a phoenix, the mythical bird that represented immortality to the ancient Egyptians.

"It's a memorial to my family," said Bryant, who said the tattoo "wasn't as painful as I thought it was going to be."

Bryant got his new tattoo during the second day of the three-day Jacksonville Tattoo Convention.

Bert Simmons, who has been organizing and promoting the convention for seven years, said the purpose is to give people access to top tattoo artists from across the country. Over the three days of the convention, he said as many as 3,000 people will pay $15 to attend and meet 200 artists.

He called that a bargain compared to traveling to San Francisco or Kansas City, where Reese Pursell operates the tattoo shops Double Crossed and Timeless.

Pursell can do tattoos in a variety of styles including Japanese. But he particularly likes doing "shellback" tattoos, which are a symbol that a sailor has crossed the Equator. "I have respect for traditions," said Pursell, who does those tattoos free for anyone who can prove they qualify.

Once mainly the province of outsider subcultures, tattoos have ceased to be taboo in the general culture, said Alex Zarfati, owner of Salvation Tattoo in Miami Beach.

"In this day and age, tattoos have become a fashion statement," he said. "You grow up wanting a tattoo. There are no boundaries anymore. Our children are going to raise their children to get tattoos."

Mike Cann, 22, wasn't exactly raised to get tattoos. But his father is a tattoo enthusiast. Cann got his first tattoo at 15 and began giving them professionally at 18. …

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