Tattoo artists break world records at tattoo expo

Photo by Dara Collins
A client sits for the Exposed Live Tattoo Off and receives a “Pittsburgh Sports Fan” piece by a previous contestant of Ink Master.

Written By Dara Collins, Staff Writer

The sound of needles and the smell of disinfectants bombarded guests as they strolled past the 78 artists and vendors inside the ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel.

The Bleed Black and Gold Tattoo Expo hosted by Exposed Temptation’s Greg Piper, Wyld Chyld’s Sarah Miller and Baller Inc. welcomed tattoo artists from all across the globe to showcase their work and tattoo customers. On Feb. 17-19, tickets for the event could be purchased by the public for $25 a day or $55 for a three-day pass.

“I want [the public] to see a different side to tattoo conventions,” Miller said. “We’ve got world records going on here, we’ve got live tattoo-offs, we’ve got audience participation, we’ve got Ink Masters going head to head, we’ve got side shows and we’ve got amazing artists where you can come get a tattoo. It’s not just a typical tattoo convention, and I want to push it further every single year and make it really memorable.”

Small town tattoo artist Robin H.M. broke two Guinness World Records over the weekend. H.M. broke the first record for the longest tattoo session on one client at 53 hours and 15 minutes. She proceeded to tattoo clients consecutively the last day of the convention to break the other record for the longest tattoo session on multiple people. After 72 hours and 26 minutes, H.M. laid the needle to rest as the crowd applauded her incredible feat.

“You will watch me own it,” H.M. said. “We didn’t come here to break it, we came here to shatter it. I’m doing this for multiple reasons: to motivate, inspire and drive people. This is a male dominated industry, so why the hell not make the toughest tattoo artist a female?”

On Friday night, the expo hosted a live tattoo-off featuring artists from Ink Master. People in attendance could enter a contest to become a human canvas by proving they were a huge Pittsburgh sports fan and their forearm was a good canvas.

Miller designed the tattoo that the artists were to follow, but the Ink Masters could personalize the design to their specific style, according to contestant Erica Wood. After four hours of tattooing, judges decided which Ink Master created the best piece, and Ink Master Jesse Smith won the tattoo-off.

“America’s Favorite Sideshow Couple” Captain and Maybelle entertained the guests and artists throughout the duration of the convention. The couple has appeared on America’s Got Talent and Ripley’s Believe It or Not. They often express their beliefs that the impossible is possible and everyone should do what they love and be happy.

“I told my mom at 12 years old this is what I was going to do,” Captain said. “I ran around the world chasing this silly dream of running away and joining the circus, getting covered in tattoos and living the life that makes me happy.”

“I like to make people laugh,” Maybelle said. “[Captain] is there for the shock and the awe of it maybe, but I am that balance to try and make it happy and get people to laugh. We’re goofing off, but it’s our job.”

Point Park students took advantage of the event’s short walk from campus and enjoyed the tattoo culture.

“I had never really seen a tattoo actually happen, so to see that side of it and how much effort and time is spent on one little tattoo was a really cool experience, and to see all those artists there in one building was crazy,” freshman criminal justice major Joseph Perez said.

The expo will return around the same time next year, according to multiple artists.