Where Is Bjork…? Part II
Iceland may be a tiny island-country in an obscure isolated corner of the world, but the hearts and spirits of the Icelandic people are larger and broader than a Viking’s shoulders… Much like this charred volcanic rock of an island, the Icelandic Tattoo convention stands alone in the sea of tattoo conventions. Increasingly, side show gimmicks, music festival atmospheres and sub-par tattooing plague much of tattoo convention circuit today.
You will find none of these things at the Iceland convention… There’s no male strippers, fire-breathers or go-go dancers. You will however find amazing tattooers making some bad-ass tattoos.
I’m not sure why or how tattoo conventions have gotten consistently more ridiculous over the years, especially the American ones. I guess the line of thinking is that people want a “show” or to be entertained… But my understanding is that people wanted immaculate tattoos from top-notch artists at a tattoo convention? In this category the Iceland show wins, hands down!
As an outsider you may not be able to tell the difference between one convention to the next, but for me it is easy tell you that Linda and Ossur (the convention organizers and owners of Reykjavik Ink) actually care about the tattooing aspect of the show and tattooing in general more than anything. Of course they want to make money and have a successful weekend, but they have accomplished this by not compromising their beliefs and ethics concerning tattooing, and that is a rare thing in this community…
I think the reason this show works so well is that it isn’t really run like a show at all. It feels more like a really big street shop… Street shops are fun when they are busy, and this big street shop on this tiny island is busy for almost 72 consecutive hours. The stigma of the convention atmosphere gets completely drowned out by its “walk-in” attitude. It just seems to work.
Perhaps this will start a new trend in conventions? This show seems to be gaining speed, while some of the bigger ones seem to be sputtering and fizzling to stay alive. Maybe “streamlining” is the wave of the tat con future? Or maybe putting the tattooing/tattooers as first priority is a good start…
The main thing I take away from this show is how kind and accommodating everyone is during and after the convention. Ossur and Linda cannot be applauded enough on the awesome work they are doing.
Of course the tattooing was on point, but the dancing, gambling, leg wrestling, drinking and tapas was also on point… Unlike last year, I actually got to go the Blue Lagoon after the show on Monday, the pictures rob you from the experience… there is no way to describe the relaxing beauty of this place with its creamy bright blue water and overlapping prehistoric landscape jutting up from every direction around me. There is no place like this on earth and there is no tattoo convention like this on earth.
Normally, I need a few days before I can write a story… Unfortunately, I do not have this luxury today, as I am writing from Icelandair flight 635 to Boston… I get home to Chicago with almost enough time to dump my suitcase, re-pack and head back to O’Hare International Airport to find myself in Dallas for the beginning of the Friday the 13th festivities less than 12 hours later… Can’t stop-won’t stop!
I also had the great pleasure of meeting a local journalist and film maker, Matthias Magnusson (Matti), who is taking on the task to discover how tattooing started in Iceland. Matti had come into the possession of some Bill Moore flash from the 1930s-40s and started to ask his peers in Iceland if they knew how this art had come to be in Iceland… His search led him to Chicago Tattoo Supply Company, which led him to interview me for his project, since I was from Chicago…
However, I am not widely familiar with Bill Moore, but I was able to help point him in the right direction and I hope to collaborate with Matti soon to help him discover the true origins of tattooing in Iceland. I’m really excited about his project and it is really fascinating what he has already discovered…. So all you tattooers be on the lookout for this documentary film, he is definitely passionate about this project and it wouldn’t surprise me to see this come full circle soon…
I’m not exactly sure when I hopped on the crazy train to travel town, but I will never complain, because all my road weary travel brothers and sisters out there are always here to greet me with a warm smile, a cold beer and a good time… Thank you friends for making every moment in Iceland a memorable one, I love you all!
Oh yeah, The Mountain from Game of Thrones showed up… Turns out he is Icelandic and has a bunch of tattoos… Who knew?
EXTRA SPECIAL thanks to Ossur and Linda for making it all happen… And for making sure I have a place to stay and getting me to the airport on time… (wink-wink) and everyone at Bar 11 and Reykjavik Ink – Takk!
Land of the Midnight Fun, thanks for the 24 hours of sunlight. I can’t wait to see the night…
Follow me on IG for more adventures: @johndotcom (And remember; It’s not the heat… It’s the stupidity…)
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