ExpoTattoo 2014: Narnia in Colombia

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Colorful thigh piece
One of the many booths selling supplies.
One of the many booths selling supplies.

It was full of some of the strangest, most magnificent creatures I’ve ever seen.

This past weekend from June 6 to 8, the 5th annual tattoo expo filled the Pabellon Rojo at Plaza Mayor with body modification experts from all around the world.

The tattoos were colorful and the artists were amazing, specializing in categories such as watercolor, neoclassical, lettering and shadowing.

The place was packed with tattoo enthusiasts of all ages, the ink was flowing (as well as the beer) and people definitely got their money’s worth. At the end, the judges named the most talented artist and studio in each category.

The prices started at around $120,000 COP ($64) for small pieces, depending on the size and detail.

Sizes and prices of some tattoos
Sizes and prices of some tattoos

While walking around I noticed the amount of foreigners who had traveled to Colombia for the event. I decided to talk to a few of them, including one of my favorite artists here in Medellín.

I had the opportunity to speak with Miguel Prada, a talented, Colombian-born tattoo artist with his own Studio in New Jersey. He expressed how he wasn’t expecting so many people to attend the event, which was full all three days.

This was Prada’s first time at ExpoTattoo. He also mentioned that he was looking forward to meeting other artists who had traveled to Medellín for the event and that he plans on coming back.

Katrina face makeup at the show
Katrina face makeup at the show

Attending the event as well was artist Paul Wolk from Toronto, Canada. He specializes in colorful, old school style tattoos.

This was also Wolk’s first time in Medellín. He heard about the Expo from a friend and decided to tag along. He also mentioned that he would definitely like to attend next year’s event.

Colorful thigh piece
Colorful thigh piece

My first day at the event I saw one of my favorite artists, Niels Solling, or Ysh. It was like seeing a celebrity and yes, I was starstruck. I had seen his work on Facebook but had never seen him in person.

I promised myself I would talk to him the next day. I looked for him almost two hours and just as I was giving up, his name was called from the stage.

They were presenting him with an award for a tattoo he had worked on for about 12 to 13 hours. Needless to say the tattoo was amazing. So as he walked down from the stage I built up the courage to talk to him.

Niels Solling: Do I look as starstruck as I felt?
Niels Solling: Do I look as starstruck as I felt?

Solling, born and raised in Denmark, has been tattooing for twenty years. He moved to Colombia seven years ago with his wife and opened up Real Deal Tattoo Studio in El Poblado.

He has attended ExpoTattoo all five year and says he loves it. He specializes in realistic shadow tattoos.

As I left the event, I noticed a huge graffiti mural. It wasn’t there when I first walked in. I wish I could have met the artist.

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